Writing an obituary is a way to announce a person’s death and acknowledge their life's achievements in a newspaper or online. Conventionally, an obituary includes key details about a person including their basic information and lifetime accomplishments.
Publishing an obituary can be a helpful way to share the news of your loved one's passing and the details of the funeral, especially if you're finding it difficult to talk about the death with your friends and family in person.
Writing an obituary for your loved one can also be a way to memorialise them as a lasting reminder of their life.
There are three main places where you might like to consider publishing an obituary when you plan a funeral service.
Publishing an obituary in a newspaper is the traditional way to publicise a person's death and life.
If you would like a newspaper obituary your options include:
There may be a charge associated with having an obituary in the paper.
A more modern approach is writing an obituary online via a dedicated obituary website.
There are also several other places where you can memorialise your loved one online for free.
If your loved one was particularly influential in their career or pastime, the university, publication, organisation, club or company they worked for may also wish to publish an obituary.
The person who plans the funeral usually arranges the obituary as well. However, if you're feeling overwhelmed with the funeral arrangements including writing an obituary, there are alternatives.
Not sure how to write an obituary or where to start? To help inspire the obituary you're writing, read other obituaries to familiarise yourself with them. This will give you an idea of conventions and help to spark inspiration.
These three tips are useful to remember when you start writing.
Gillian "Gill" Smith (née Jones) passed away peacefully in her sleep on 13th October 2023 aged 93. Whilst studying art history at the University of Birmingham, Gill met the late Cecil Smith who was her committed husband of 39 years. Gill was a loving mother to Ben and Sally and a devoted grandmother to her five grandchildren. An avid sculptor, Gill achieved many local prizes, held several well-attended exhibitions and taught art at Lower Farm Primary School. A funeral will be held at Mercia Forest Crematorium, Broad Lane at 11 am on Thursday 26th October. In lieu of funeral flowers, the family has requested charitable donations be made in Gill's name to Age UK.
Depending on space limitations, these are some of the details you might like to include when writing an obituary for your loved one.
You don't have to include any information you, other family members or your loved one would prefer to keep private.
Whether or not to include these details depends on what feels right for your loved one and what they were most proud of or passionate about.
The personal relationships mentioned in an obituary are usually kept to immediate family. Thanks to carers or hospital staff are not usually included. You may like to send a card and thoughtful gift to these people instead.
If you are arranging a direct cremation, you can share the details of any celebration of life events instead.
Choosing words that remind you of your loved one or represent the way you would like them to be remembered can bring you comfort.
Some obituaries have space for a photo which can be:
An obituary photo is usually a solo head and shoulders photo of the person who has died.
Whether you were already aware of their passing or not, reading the obituary of a lost loved one can be upsetting.
Overall, instead of focusing on death and sadness when writing an obituary, acknowledge and celebrate a person’s life and the positive impact they had instead.
Cemetery & Crematorium Officer, New Southgate Crematorium
"Having worked at New Southgate Crematorium for over 22 years, I have met many families as they say their last farewell to their loved ones. Every single funeral service is different but love and warmth are the emotions that consistently shine through as the family is united together in grief and remembrance.
“An obituary is by no means essential, but like the funeral service itself, it may bring comfort to those mourning. Having an obituary offers the opportunity to remember and celebrate a loved one and the lasting impact they have had on those around them.”
An obituary, as described above, shares the news of someone’s death usually with some additional details about their life and what was important to them. Death notices and eulogies are sometimes mixed up with obituaries but have key differences.
Like an obituary, a death notice is published either in a newspaper or online when someone has died to notify friends, family or the general public of that person’s passing. Death notices are shorter and more factual though, whereas obituaries tend to go into greater detail and focus more on the person.
You may find that writing an obituary for your loved one has you thinking about your own life and how you would like to be remembered.
Setting up a funeral plan lets you take control of planning and paying for your funeral in advance.
We offer affordable funeral plans for attended cremation funerals as well as unattended cremations for those who would prefer to avoid fuss or have their life celebrated in a less conventional way.Get your FREE funeral guide
Whilst you are considering how to write an obituary, you can lean on your funeral provider to support you with the funeral itself.
At Distinct Cremations, we can arrange a no fuss cremation for your loved one and provide guidance about planning other aspects of the funeral service too.
Let us support you with your funeral arrangements. We collect your loved one, help you with the paperwork, facilitate a respectful cremation and personally return the ashes.Arrange a funeral
Whilst writing your loved one's obituary, you may like to think about what to include in their funeral service too. Find out more about popular order of service ideas to consider.Funeral order of service guidance
If you have chosen a cremation for your loved one, you will need to decide what you would like to do with their ashes. Different types of funeral urn are suited to different choices.Funeral urns
Below are a selection of reviews from those who have arranged a funeral or purchased a funeral plan through Distinct Cremations.
"Smooth and straightforward purchase with plenty of contact and feedback."
“Easy to use and very helpful. Very easy to use their services and always called with updates. Sorry to say I've had to use their services twice now and I've already booked my own service. On both times I've used this service I've been kept informed by calls to everything going on. All my requests were made to feel like no trouble whatsoever, happy to help attitude made what was a very emotional time pass with no problems. Ty to all the teams involved"
"Quick and easy to arrange. Very good value. The information pack arrived days after I made my enquiry. It was so easy to arrange the plan that I wanted. The follow up call was very reassuring. I am very happy with the service provided."
"Already recommended to other family members. Easy to access and apply for a plan at a good price, and even better, in 20 years time there will be no additional cost. It's not a subject that anyone wants to think about but now I have it sorted it has given me peace of mind knowing my family won't have the worry or cost when that time comes, now I can forget it and enjoy many more years, highly recommended. Hassle free application that was completed in minutes but I'm not planning on using this plan anytime soon!!"
"I was very pleased with the prompt efficient service that I got, everything was explained to me, and the paperwork was easy to understand, and there was no pressure put on me for a decision. I would most certainly recommended this company for price and efficiency."
“Happy with everything. We were well pleased with the consultant Sarah Mills she was very helpful and made us feel very confident that we were doing the right thing about our funeral plan."
"Positive without being pushy. Easy to understand the scheme, helpful brochure and a realistic price. The staff I contacted were polite and professional. Great value. An ideal alternative for those of us who don't want a lot of fuss."