Laying your loved one to rest can be a challenging experience for many reasons. Whether your loss is due to a long illness or a sudden experience, coming to terms with the fact this person has moved on can be an emotional and turbulent experience. Obituaries are used to help notify a wider audience that a person has passed – including distant family or lesser-known friends. They are a wonderful way to celebrate the life of someone you held dear. However, unless you’ve had experience writing one before, the process may be daunting. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about obituaries and how to get started on one today.

What Is an Obituary?

An obituary is a notice that is publicised, either in local or national papers or via the internet, to help advise a wider audience that somebody has passed. It is normally written by a close loved one and describes the life, personality and favourable details about the individual. This notice may also include information about upcoming funeral arrangements, specifically if the celebration has been designed for a wider audience.

Is it a Legal Requirement?

There is no legal requirement in the UK to write or publish an obituary. However, many use them as a source of comfort. They provide a means of bringing back to life the personality and spirit of a loved one and celebrating the life they created during their time on this earth. Obituaries also act as a practical way of telling long-lost friends, distant family or other acquaintances about a person’s passing.

If the person who passed had a large friendship group or requested an open funeral arrangement, obituaries are an easy and quick way to spread the message about dates, times and any charitable donation information. With so many people to contact, it’s easy for information to get confused and jumbled. With an official document, you eliminate this risk.

Where Are They Printed?

Traditionally, obituaries are found in local newspapers. On occasion, a member of a national newspaper’s staff may write an obituary for someone famous. There may be a fee applied to this service, but it still remains a popular way to spread the message, specifically with an older audience. However, as the world continues to move more and more online, memorial pages and obituary websites have increased in popularity. Many memorial pages are free to create and have an easy field-filling layout that makes it easy for you to build on quickly. Social media websites, including Facebook, offer memorial settings that allow you to transform an existing account into a place for friends and family to gather online and celebrate their loved ones. These can be used to post digital obituaries and are particularly helpful when spreading the word about funeral arrangements to a very wide audience.

You may also find obituaries in some local newsletters, specifically those put out by churches, synagogues or other religious organisations. If the deceased was heavily involved in charitable or volunteer work, it is possible that they may wish to pay homage to them through their own papers.

Obituary or Death Notice

Depending on the publication you contact, you may come across the term ‘Death Notice’ and obituary. A death notice is a paid announcement that gives dedicated information – normally just the name of the individual and the date of their funeral or memorial service. An obituary is a longer-form, more detailed biography of an individual, normally written by a loved one who wants to memorialise them for longer.

What to Include?

Much of writing an obituary is down to you and your personal memories. However, without previous experience, it can be a daunting prospect. Below, you’ll see the points we recommend including in order to give a full and celebratory memorial of their life.

Make an Announcement

Open the obituary by announcing the death of the individual. Include their name, their age and information such as the place and date of their death. This information does not have to go into incredible detail – for example, there is no need to include the cause of death. Make sure that everyone in the close family is aware of the information included and given the opportunity to voice their opinions too.

Celebrate Their Life

Take some time to talk about the life your loved one enjoyed. Did they dedicate their life to a specific cause? Did they find meaning in their family and loved ones around them? Did their career bring them unlimited joy and a purpose that seemed to drive them forward? Think about the aspects of their life that made them the unique and well-loved individuals they still are. Here is where you can bring their spirit back to life.

Mention Surviving Loved Ones

As part of the obituary, it is customary to mention the family and loved ones that have been left behind. You may also wish to mention those close in the individual’s lives who passed before them and discuss the ways in which these relationships impacted their lives. If you are not a close member of the family, we recommend checking with these individuals to ensure they are happy with this mention.

Choose a Poem

Some people look for poems or quotes that memorialise their loved one perfectly. If the individual was religious, you may want to select a prayer or message specifically written for the celebration of life. Or, maybe you want to write something yourself that allows you to express all the emotions, love and memories that flood to mind when you think of the one you’ve lost.

Include Funeral Information

At the end of your obituary, it is customary to include information about the funeral, wake or memorial service. Make sure to mention whether this service is open to anyone or if it is being attended only by close family members. If your loved one asked for donations to support a specific charity or organisation, this information can also be included here with any links or contact information needed.

Writing an obituary can be a way of bringing peace to this difficult time and celebrating the life of someone so dearly loved. At Wallace Stuart, we are here to provide a friendly and supportive hand during these periods. For more information on writing an obituary or to discuss funeral plans, please do get in contact with us here today.