Writing an obituary is a great way to honor and remember the life of someone who was close to you. Getting thoughts down on paper can help give some sense of closure. Many times, this is the first step towards accepting the death, and people find it valuable in the early stages of grieving.
The actual content of the obituary needs to be well thought out for two reasons. First, you want to honor the person’s life. This is the first public statement to who they were and the legacy they created. It’s important to organize your thoughts well so they are memorialized properly. Second, knowing what to write (and what not to write) will pay off later, where writing the obituary correctly may help to avoid issues down the road.
Step 1: Research your local newspaper
Prices and procedure vary from newspaper to newspaper. Consider which newspaper(s) you want to submit your obituary to and how much want to pay. There may be several local newspapers with very different audiences and circulations. Spend some time researching which publications you feel are most appropriate.
Step 2: Beware of the Risks
A tragic mistake many people make is disclosing unnecessary information in the obituary coupled with forgetting to close the deceased’s accounts. Committing both mistakes is a recipe for disaster. By publicizing personal or sensitive information, you run the risk of encountering issues with decedent identity theft. Remember to close bank accounts, credit cards, deactivate social security number before and do not include address, date of birth, maiden name, or other unnecessary personal information.
Step 3: Think about Organization
There are many ways to frame, format, and formulate your obituary. You can use obituaryguide.com for a template if you are unsure where to start and to a general idea of what to include. Don’t limit yourself to a template though. Feel free to include anything you find important, such as your loved one’s hobbies or achievements, interesting stories, or their impact on the community.
Step 4: Revise and Edit
Remember to give the obituary the respectful time and care it deserves. Revise the obituary at least a few times and let your family members read over it or contribute their opinion.
Step 5: Submit to a local newspaper
When you’re ready and satisfied with what you’ve written, submit it to your newspaper or talk to your funeral counselor about posting it online. Depending on the newspaper and the time it is submitted, it should typically it should be published for the following week or earlier.
Even if you decide not to submit your obituary to your local newspaper, writing an obituary is a great way to reflect on the life of your loved one. An obituary can help you stay busy during the grieving process, while also addressing your feelings. Writing something that comes from your heart can help to make you feel better, and can be something you can look back on at a later date to help you remember.