How To Write An Obituary

How To Write An Obituary

Maggy Day ·

The obituary is often the first thing people read about someone after they pass away and for many people, it will be the last thing written about their lives. The obituary serves as a notification that an individual has passed away, it will list any information on the funeral services that are scheduled to take place. It is much more than just this though, it is a goodbye to a loved one a short chronological telling of their life.


For the announcement families usually use a full name, date of birth, and date of death. Along with a photo, typically in black and white. 


Most memorial services will contain a funeral program that will have a detailed recount of ones life and family members they are survived by. It is recommended to have a brief version of this for your obituary. Recount, in a concise manner, the significant events in the life of your loved one. This could include schools they attended, major life achievements, places traveled as well as hobbies or other interests. 

Surviving Family Members:

It is considered customary to list family members who have survived the deceased, as well as immediate family members who predeceased him or her, including:

  • Spouse/partner, children, and/or stepchildren (with their spouses’/partners’ names also noted in brackets, if applicable)
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Half and step-siblings
  • Best Friends
  • Surviving In-laws

Only immediate family members typically have their names listed. Grandchildren, nieces, etc are usually listed by number. ( leaves behind 4 grandchildren, 3 nieces, and 1 nephew)

Funeral Services:

  If any part of your loved ones memorial services will be open to the public and or your= will not be sending out invitations it is recommended to put the scheduled services information in the obituary. Sometimes unwanted guests may attend only for lunch and may not be part of the services so be careful with this part.


If you are having a fundraiser or donating to an organization on behalf of your loved one, include the contact information towards the end of your obituary. Many families donate to an organization for health reasons or reasons of interest their loved one had.

Other Things To Consider:

If possible, it is good practice to have another family member look over the obituary with you. Have them double confirm dates, names, spelling, funeral service schedule, etc.

Basic phrase ideas for a funeral service. 

  • “It is with great sadness that the family of _________ announce (his/her) passing….”
  • “____________ will be sadly missed by ….”
  • “Fondly remember"ered by...”
  • “Forever remembered by..”
  • “Lovingly remembered by...”
  • “Wife/husband and best friend of (number) years….”
  • “A Celebration of life for _____ will be held on….”



Full Name_____

Date of Birth – Date of Death

Ideas for the Opening Paragraph

  • On (date), ( name of deceased) of (city of residence) passed away at the age of ____.
  • We are saddened to announce his/her passing on (day, date) at the age of _____ years.
  • Our beloved  "father, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend"
  • (name of deceased) passed away with her family by her side on (day, date) at the age of ____ years. ( optional )
  • Following a lengthy battle with __________, (full name of deceased) of (city of residence) passed away on (day, date) at the age of ____ years. ( optional)
  • It is with deep/ great sorrow and much love that we mourn the passing of _______________, of (city of residence) on (day, Date), at the age of _____ years. ( optional )
  • It is with great / profound sadness that the family of _____________ announce his/her peaceful passing on (day, date) at the age of ____ years. (optional)
  • Peacefully and surrounded by his/her family, mom/dad passed away on (day, date) at the age of ______ years. (optional )

Second Paragraph

     It is typical to list family members in this order: spouse, children eldest first, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brother, sister, and if wanted other relatives and friends.  often to save space people will state the number of grandchildren instead of listing them all.  For example  15 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren... etc 

  • (name) will be lovingly remembered by his/her husband/wife of _____ years, Jim; children: Frank (wife’s name) and Judy (husband’s name); grandchildren: _________, ___________, and ___________; brother, John (spouses name) last name; sister-in-law, Hanna last name; as well as many relatives and friends.
  • She/He will also be dearly missed by her friends at the _____________
  • (name of group or location example: Seniors Center)

Third Paragraph 

She/He was predeceased by her loving spouse of ____ years, (name); son, (name); brother, (name); and her parents: (name and name). 

Fourth Paragraph — Optional 

Some families like to tell a bit of story about their loved one, where they were born, hobbies they enjoyed, an exceptional accomplishment or tale of their loved one. If they were involved in any clubs, organizations, or charities this is a good place to mention them.

 Fifth paragraph

  • A Viewing / Prayer Service will be held at (time), on (day, date), at the location and address of the funeral service home or religious building.
  • A Funeral Mass (Funeral Service, Memorial Service, Celebration of Life, etc) will be held on (date),  (full address).
  • A Funeral Service will be held at a later date.
  • A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
  • A private service will be held at the family’s request.
  • At (name of deceased)‘s request, no service will be held.

If asking for donations include them here in the sixth paragraph. 


Example obituary:

Mariah "Marnie" Anne Marshall, 1991–2021

Today, our hearts are broken as we all mourn the loss of our beloved older sister, Marnie. Her bright light and big heart left us too soon, but we will remember her warmth, love, and generosity. 

Marnie taught us all some fundamental lessons while she made her short journey through life. Of which, the most memorable was to develop a sense of impenetrable gratitude. She would say, “It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.”

We will miss our big sister, as will those she impacted throughout her life, from friends and family to the work she did with Pasado’s Safe Haven. Marnie's passions involved caring for those animals, and they are sure to miss her morning songs through the valley.

Our family will be holding a private ceremony and a public celebration of her life. To join, please contact the Mayer Funeral Home for details. We would like to request if you can a small donation to Pasado's in her name.