Writing an obituary for a friend or family member can be accomplished using an outline divided into four parts. The first part of an obituary is called the introduction. On a sheet of paper, write the word “introduction.” Under this header, list the person’s name, age (optional), date of death, and place of death. If you are comfortable with it, you may choose to include the cause of death, but this piece of information is rarely added today. You are only preparing the basic structure at this point. You’ll fill in the obituary once you’ve completed the outline.
Moving further down the sheet of paper, write “Background/Bio.” Under this header, list the highlights of the subject’s life. You should include date and place of birth, name of parents, any causes or organizations in which the deceased was passionate or active. Name two or three things your family member or friend truly enjoyed doing. For example, my grandmother’s favorite hymn was “Mary,” and I included this in her obituary. Highlight any significant challenges this person overcame during their lifetime.
It is customary to include a list of surviving relatives in an obituary. Begin with spouse, children (and their spouses), and siblings. Next, list the number of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins. You may also choose to mention friends and co-workers, without giving names or quantity.
For the final part of the obituary, write the title, “Additional information.” Under this header, write the name and address of where wake and funeral services will be held. Also, optionally, write the address of where donations, condolences, and gifts can be sent.
In each of the above sections, link the ideas listed into sentences and paragraphs, and edit for grammar and syntax. In four simple steps, you’ve completed the obituary. This is an emotional task, one which many people never want to have to do. It’s my sincere hope that this simple four step outline helps simplify obituary writing for you as it has for me.