What Is an Obituary

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When a loved one passes away, you may be asked to write their obituary. You might also decide you’d like to write one for yourself, for when the time comes. An obituary is not a necessity, but it is a good way to tell the wider community about a person’s death and to celebrate their life.

In this article, you’ll find out why you might need an obituary, why it’s different to a death notice, and how to write one. We’ll also share some examples, so you’ve got a better idea of what to write.

Why do you need an obituary?

An obituary is not essential when someone dies, but it can be useful in a few different ways, for example:

  • To let the wider community know about someone’s death
  • To make sure people know about the funeral arrangements
  • It creates a public record of a loved one’s life
  • To honour an individual who has passed away.

Difference between an obituary and a death notice

Death notices typically include key facts about the person who has died. This might include their name, age, date of birth, and date of death. An obituary, on the other hand, contains these facts but also more details about the person’s life and their achievements.

How to write an obituary?

Whether you’re writing an obituary for yourself, for a father, mother, child, sibling, or someone else that was important to you, there are a few common steps you should take.

Step 1: Decide where to publish it

Obituaries were traditionally published in local newspapers or national newspapers if the individual was well known. However, death and social media have also become bedfellows and you can have an obituary published online.

Step 2: Do some research ( to make the obituary more personal)

The best obituary is one that captures the personality of the person who has passed away. For inspiration, you should do some research.

Ask yourself and others who knew your loved one for facts about their life. You’ll want to know about their favourite things, hobbies, interests, and their personality. Someone might also have an idea about how they’d want to be remembered.

Step 3: Include the most important details

There are a few standard things you should include in an obituary, for example:

  • An announcement of the death: Include some basic information such as their full name, age, place of birth, date and place of death.
  • Recount some biographical details about their life: You might want to set yourself a word limit, depending on where the obituary is being published. Include details of some significant events and achievements, their education, hobbies, or contributions to the community.
  • Include surviving family members: It’s customary to include details of surviving family members and loved ones, as well as immediate family members who predeceased your loved one.
  • Special message or poem: Sometimes, people choose to add a special message, funeral poem or short prayer at the end of an obituary.
  • Choose an obituary photo: If the publication allows photos make sure your image is a clear headshot of the person and one they would have been happy with.

The cost of publishing an obituary

Newspapers usually charge a fee for publishing an obituary and often, it will be based on the number of words included. The cost also depends on the number of days you want to notice to be published and which days of the week you want it to appear.

In general, you can expect to pay between £50 to £300, depending on the pricing policy. An obituary in a national newspaper, on the other hand, will typically cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Obituary examples

Let’s share a few examples, so you get an idea of what one looks like.

Short obituary example

Daniel Moody, 63, passed away on July 6, 2022 from an unexpected heart attack. Even though a failing heart took him away from this world, his loving heart left a beacon of light for all in the community.

Daniel is survived by his beautiful wife, Jade. He was a proud dad to two daughters: Alexa and Beverly. His cheerful attitude and bright smile will be missed at the local hospital where he worked as a hospital porter.

A short graveside ceremony will be held on Friday, July 10, 2022 at the town cemetery, followed by a reception and BBQ in the garden of his home.

Funny obituary example

Fred Sanders was one of life’s comedians. He never made it to the stage but was always making people laugh in his regular life. He kept people rolling in laughter because he could find humour in the most mundane life circumstances. His recent hobbies included flirting with his hospice nurses and buying random stuff from late-night infomercials.

Anyone else battling colon cancer would have passed quietly with family by their side. Fred, on the other hand, went out with a bang: wearing nothing but his cricket shorts, while drinking whisky on the couch and watching the England cricket reruns.

Fred had a passionate love affair with ice cream, lasagne, and anything dipped in chocolate. He is survived by his long-suffering wife, Carol; three children who inherited his quick wit (Jeff, Barb, and Joe), and a yappy dog named Bruno.

Obituary example for mother

Sarah Patterson (Pattie) nee Hurley was a caring wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. She left this world suddenly on July 6, 2022 at age 65.

She was born in Taunton, Somerset on June 3, 1963. After graduating from college, Debbie chased her dreams to serve in the Navy where she met her husband, Philip Patterson. Together, they had 3 children: Chloe, Brad, and Emmy.

Debbie loved spending time in the kitchen, creating delicious meals for her family. Neighbourhood children would gather around the kitchen table for after-school snacks and loved listening to Debbie’s stories about her travels. She was a skilled seamstress as well and filled her home with plenty of her creations. Most weekends were spent as a volunteer at the local animal sanctuary.

A funeral service is scheduled for 11 am on July 9, 2022 at the local Crematorium. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Pattie’s favourite charity the RSPCA.

Obituary example for father

Richard “Dick”; passed away on July 6, 2022 at the age of 74, in his hometown of Bristol, Somerset. His battle with cancer in recent years showed his courage in facing life’s challenges with a smile. Despite the pain, Richard came out a hero and stayed strong until the end.

As a child, Dick proclaimed that his goal was to become a “premier footballer” when he grew up. He never quite made it, but spent many years coaching the local team and helped bring them success.

Dick met the love of his life, Maria, while standing in line at a Rolling Stones concert. It was love at first sight, and she supported him in everything he did. Together, they had one child: Matthew.

Dick will be honoured in a local celebration of life on July 15, 2022 at his favourite watering hole, The Prince of Wales. Guests are welcome to attend from 6 – 9 pm, with a short ash scattering ceremony at sunset.

Say more during the funeral service

If you want to say more about a loved one who has passed away, you can always write a eulogy. A eulogy offers the opportunity to share special memories of a loved one and mention notable relationships in a much longer and publicly spoken format than an obituary.