What is an obituary and how to write one

Published: 6/4/2023

In the days and weeks following a loved one's passing, you may need to take care of a few things, including arranging a funeral, dealing with legal matters and notifying family and friends. Another might include writing an obituary.

What is an obituary?

An obituary is a tribute to a person's life, personality and accomplishments and is a lovely opportunity to share their story while also informing the community of their passing.

They are often published in the newspaper or online, sometimes a family member might even choose to publish it themselves on social media. Famous people on the other hand, will have obituaries published in national newspapers as a matter of course.

An obituary typically includes the person's full name, date of birth, date of death and a summary about their life, including their achievements, interests and hobbies.

Obituary | David Bowie
Obituary | David Bowie

Why are obituaries important? Honouring your loved one's memory

Writing an obituary, although a challenging prospect, can support the grieving process, for it provides you with an opportunity to honour your loved one's memory and their story. It's also a nice opportunity to be able to share their story with other people who also want to celebrate their life. For many people, reading an obituary can provide a feeling of comfort and closure during a sad time.

Obituaries also serve a practical purpose for they inform the community of the person's passing and provide important details about any funeral or celebration of life services taking place. This can be especially important for friends and family members who may be located in different parts of the country or world.

How to write an obituary: Capturing your loved one's story

Although starting to write an obituary may seem intimidating, the importance of honouring your loved one far outways.

To help you write an obituary, here are some helpful tips that we hope support you in capturing your loved one's story:  

  • Start with the basics. Begin the obituary by stating the person's name, date of birth and date of death.
  • Share their story. Write a brief biography of their life. This might include sharing their accomplishments, interests and hobbies. Try your best to capture their personality along the way and use specific examples to make their story come to life.
  • Include family information. List the names of immediate family members, including spouses, children, grandchildren, parents and siblings - other family members and friends too if you like, there's no hard and fast rule.
  • Provide details about the funeral. Share information about the funeral or celebration of life, the date, time and location, as well as any memorial services or visitations details.  
  • Consider the tone of the obituary. Think about your loved one's personality and style, what they brought to the world and try to capture all this in the obituary. You may like to include one of their favourite quotes or sayings or share a personal story.
  • Proofread and edit. Once you've written the obituary, it's good practice to take some time to review it and make edits. Ask a friend or family member to read over it as well and be open to their suggestions too, for it will help ensure the obituary accurately reflects your loved one's story and spirit.
What is an obituary? | My Tributes
What is an obituary? | My Tributes

Obituary examples 

To help you further understand what an obituary is and how it can be used to honor a loved one, here are two examples of obituaries, you will of course have a lot more amazing things to add to yours.

Example 1:

John Doe, 75, passed away on 1 April 1 2023, surrounded by his loving family. John was born on 10 October 1947 in Melbourne, Victoria and spent most of his life in the bustling city he so dearly loved. He was a proud father of two children, Sarah and David and a very proud grandfather of three, Rachel, Max and Ivy.

John was a skilled carpenter who took great pride in anything and everything he worked on. He spent many years building and restoring homes throughout Melbourne and his craftsmanship was admired by many. In his spare time, John loved fishing and spending time with his family.

John will be deeply missed by his family and friends, but his legacy will live on through his children and grandchildren. A private funeral service will be held on 7 April 2023, at St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Example 2:

Sarah Smith, 62, passed away on 28 March 2023, after a long battle with cancer. Sarah was born on 3 January 1961, in Sydney, New South Wales and spent most of her life on her beautiful 9 acre property in Mount Victoria. She was a devoted wife to her husband, Michael and a loving mother to her daughter Olivia.

An accomplished artist who had a deep appreciation for beauty and nature, Sarah enjoyed spending many hours painting landscapes and portraits, and her work exhibited in galleries throughout Sydney. Sarah was also an avid gardener and took great pleasure in tending to her beloved rose garden.

Sarah will be deeply missed by her family, friends and the art community, but her spirit will live on through her art. A celebration of Sarah's life will be held on 10 April 2023, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Cancer Council of Australia.

Celebrate the life of your loved one and preserve their memory for generations to come with our professional obituary service. Please click below.

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