New York State Funeral Directors Association

Writing Your Own Obituary

It's a really good idea to write your own obituary for a variety of reasons -- you can give it your own personal touch and you can usually avoid the mistakes that sometimes occur when obituaries are hurriedly written at the time of death.

The best time to prepare your obituary is when you preplan your funeral. You can leave the obituary copy with your family funeral director and give other copies to immediate family members.

Writing a personal obituaryIt can be updated as your life circumstances change.

Doing this will help your family enormously at a stressful time when it might be difficult to remember all the details of your life.

The Lippert Olson Funeral Home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin shared some excellent suggestions for writing an obituary:

  • The first paragraph should give basic information such as name, age, residence city, date and place of death, and cause of death.
  • The second paragraph should include date of birth and birth place, parents' names, educational accomplishments, military service, marriages and residential history.
  • The third paragraph should list post high school education and degrees earned, work history and affiliations.
  • The fourth paragraph mentions affiliations with a church, synagogue or other place of worship, and membership in clubs, civic and fraternal organizations.
  • The next paragraph should name survivors including the spouse and children, other relatives, pets, friends and where the survivors live. Family members who preceded the decedent in death should also be mentioned.
  • The obituary should conclude with all the particulars of the funeral service: day, date, time and place of service, place of burial, visitation information, memorial services and any prayer or vigil services that are scheduled. List any memorial funds here that have been established.
  • It is a gracious gesture to give thanks to any people or groups for care given to the deceased.

Remember that these suggestions are only guidelines.

When writing your obituary or the obituary of a loved one, you may wish to use your own style. Just be sure to include all the important information.

Check out the obituaries in your local newspaper for ideas, or ask your family funeral director for assistance.

He or she is experienced in writing obituaries, and can be an excellent source of guidance and advice for putting your thoughts together.

Give consideration to the newspapers where the obituary should be printed.

With today's mobile society, many people make sure that their hometown newspaper also receives the obituary.

Nowadays, most newspapers will charge a fee for obituaries unless you're a newsworthy celebrity.