The death of a loved one is an unhappy reality which we will all have to face at some point in our lives. At this time it is quite possible that we will be asked to deal with the writing of  a death announcement and obituary notice. Without any previous experience, it can be a daunting task. This article will help you to deal with this difficult task and honor the memory of your loved one in an appropriate manner. You can make it a brief announcement, or a longer and more detailed account.

There are two different types of death notices that are most common. One is a death announcement that is usually more formal and sent out to family, friends and coworkers' of the recently deceased. This is a private announcement and is more commonly seen in other countries than the United States. The other type of death announcement is public and usually published in the local papers and now even on the internet. These are obituaries.  Below, are instructions for both.

How to write a death announcement:

When writing a death announcement, it is most commonly printed on a simple, yet elegant card. A nice choice is a flat, white card that is embossed with a thin black border or background. However, even simple card can become expensive. In these cases, a simple white card will do just fine.

These types of announcements are usually kept simple and to the point. Included should be;

  • The formal name of the person written as: John M. Smith, Smith, John M. or even John Maxwell Smith.
  • To follow will be the date and/or time of death, along with the location.
  • Next write a short paragraph that contains information related to the cause of death and the survivors.
  • The last part is usually a sentence or two about any special programs, church or organizations that the departed belonged to. This is also the site to place any information about donations in the departed's memory.

How to write an obituary:

An obituary can be many things, the notification of a death, information about the funeral service, a thank you to those who have helped, a request for memorial donations.The basic information needs to be included accurately. Also, an obituary can be an interesting story of a life.

The following lists, should help you cover the most relevant details. Start with the facts;

  • Full name of the deceased, including any nickname,
  • Age at death
  • Residence and place (for example, the name of the city) at time of death
  • Day and date of death
  • Cause of death

    Now give some details of their life;

    • Date and place of birth
    • Names of parents
    • Childhood: siblings, stories, friends
    • Marriage(s): date of, name of spouse
    • Education: school, college, university and other
    • Awards, and other recognition
    • Employment
    • Places of residence
    • Hobbies and interests
    • Achievements
    • Unusual qualities, humour, other stories


    If you wish, you can give more details of their family, ones who died before them and also surviving family members.

    • It is important to include the following information relating to the funeral service;
    • Day, date, time, place
    • Place of interment
    • Name of funeral home in charge of arrangements
    • Where to call for more information
    • Reception information if applicable: day, date, time, place


    Other details;

    • Memorial fund if already established
    • Memorial donation suggestions, including addresses if in preference to floral tributes
    • Thank you's to people, groups, or institutions


    A word of caution;

     Thieves are no respecter of a death in the family, do not print house addresses in an obituary as these can be a clue to an empty home at the time of a funeral.  

    Try to make an obituary as interesting as possible, in many cases, their obituary may be just about the only thing that is ever written about a person in their entire life. Their obituary can be the defining statement about that person for the family, friends, and community. An obituary can be read now, and saved for future generations. All very good reasons to make it interesting and significant.