How to Write an Obituary

July 21, 2021

How do I write an obituary?

What information should be in the obituary?

How much family do we need to list in the obituary?

Questions pertaining to obituaries are frequently brought up by the families we serve in our funeral home. The importance of the obituary varies by family, but many families want a tribute that captures the spirit of their loved one on paper.

Most often, the obituary will begin with a death announcement. In many cases the date, place of birth and parentage are listed as well. (ex. John Frederick Doe was born May 2, 1942 in Sapulpa, Oklahoma to parents Joe and Jane Doe. John was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He passed away, surrounded by his devoted family, August 28, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.)

A section may be dedicated to sharing information about the deceased captures who they were as an individual and/or how they lived their life.  This may include information about career, faith, hobbies, family or a combination of these topics as well as many more.  As an example, I have included part of my dad’s obituary. You may notice that his death is announced in this part of the obituary, rather than the first paragraph. It “felt” right here when it was being put together. Remember, there are no hard and fast rules. (Charlie was a good-natured man and he loved people.  He enjoyed talking and visiting with everyone.  He never met a stranger.  He enjoyed hunting and fishing and working on cars when he was younger and was always ready to lend a helping hand.  He was a hard-working man, both professionally and personally.  When not working he enjoyed keeping his 5 acres mowed and trimmed until there was not a tree, fence or other obstacle left ungroomed, often accomplishing his mowing with a grandchild on his lap.  Charlie worked in the shop at Sooner Tire for many years and later worked with his son, Doug, at Bennett Steel.  He was a member of Old Path Baptist Church and when he was able helped with a bus route bringing children to church.  He began driving a church bus as a ministry with his wife Beth in the 70s at Baptist Temple in Bartlesville, had a bus route for many years at Bible Baptist in Sapulpa and later at SouthWest Baptist in Tulsa.  He spent many years in service to the Lord bringing children to church.  Charlie had Alzheimer’s disease for many years and was unable to do many of the things he once enjoyed.  One thing that remained until the very end was his love for his family. He liked to tease and play with his grandkids, and they loved playing with “Pa Pa.”  Charlie made his journey to Heaven on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 with his family at his side.  His failing sight and clouded mind have been restored and he is probably talking, visiting and telling stories in Heaven right now.  His quick smile, corny jokes and big heart will be missed by everyone who knew him.)

Another part of the obituary includes family. This usually includes family that preceded the individual in death and who survived them. Should you mention every niece and nephew? What about spouses of family members? Again, remember, there are no hard and fast rules. Every family should do what they believe is best for them. Sometimes, the easiest way to include extended family without missing someone, is to add general statements. (ex. He is survived by numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family and friends.)

One way to get started is to write a list of what you wish to include. Refer to the list as you begin writing. Another suggestion is to read other obituaries. They can help with ideas of what to include and how to begin. Going to a funeral home website is a great resource to read obituaries to help start the process.

At Green Hill, as well as most funeral homes, there is staff that can help you with the obituary. Remember, there are no hard and fast rules. It is the privilege of each family to determine the best way to honor the life of their loved one.

Written by:

Brenda Smith, Operations Manager

Green Hill Funeral Services, Inc.