How To Write A Memorable Obituary

how to write an obituary - candle notebook and flower

An obituary is a touching way to announce the death of a loved one and celebrate their life’s accomplishments. However, many family members find it difficult to write an obituary, especially if grief is creating writer’s block. Here are some tips that can help make the process smooth and ensure that your loved one’s memory is celebrated.

Set the Tone

There are many things to do when a loved one passes away and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Pre-planning the funeral details can help alleviate some of the stress associated with loss. Grief support resources can help family members understand and process emotions.

Before you sit down to write the obituary, take time to set the tone. Do your best to remove any distractions, light your favorite candle if you’d like, and spend some time in meditation or prayer before you begin. This can help create space for meaningful reflection rather than checking off an item on the to-do list. Typing the obituary helps prevent any mistakes during posting, but many people choose to write the first draft by hand.

Start With the Basics

An obituary typically starts by listing the basic information about the deceased, such as when they were born, the date they passed, and any other relevant biographical information (Where did they live? Where did they go to school? What was their career like?).

Include a list of surviving family members, as well as any notable predeceased family members. You don’t need to include the entire family tree, but these people should be listed by name:

  • Parents
  • Their spouse/partner
  • Any children or step-children—along with their spouse/partner’s names in brackets, if applicable
  • Siblings, including half- and step-siblings
  • Grandchildren and great-grandchildren
  • Surviving in-laws, if relevant

If you’d like to highlight any additional family members, you can group them together by relationship—such as “five nieces, and two nephews.” People with very large families may choose to do this for grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well.

You may also want to include any notable information, such as the date of the service, a memorial donation fund, or anything else you’d like the public to know.

Add Some of Their Personality

Personality quirks are often what make your loved one who they are, so don’t be afraid to showcase that in their obituary. Make it personal by sharing their passions and hobbies. Don’t just focus on what they did in their life, talk about what their life was like, too. Be mindful of the length, however—many newspaper publications charge by the word. You may want to have a formal announcement for the paper and a more personal obituary for the funeral service.

Don’t Forget to Proofread

As with any important writing, don’t forget to proofread! Have someone else look it over, or run it through an online spelling and grammar program such as Grammarly.

At Found and Sons Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services, our goal is to help you navigate the end of your loved one’s life. We strive to make it a time of reflection, appreciation, and celebration, so that we may help you honor and preserve your loved one’s memory. Visit our website to learn more about our services or call (800) 207-3530 today.

Tips for Writing a Meaningful Obituary

American playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder once said, “The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.” Of course, grief is inescapable, and a part of the normal human experience after death occurs. One way we can express our gratitude to our loved ones is by preparing a farewell that captures their essence and communicates what they meant to us and to the world. The team at ­­­­Found and Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service has been honored to do that for our neighbors in Culpeper and Fredericksburg for more than 80 years.


One of the oldest forms of paying tribute to a loved one is the obituary, which can be traced historically back to the time of the ancient Romans. While it has been called a number of different things throughout the centuries, the modern death announcement became known as an “obituary” around the 18th century. Obituaries have undergone a lot of changes throughout the years. For example, 20 years ago we would primarily read obituaries in the local newspaper, whereas now, online memorials are more popular. Publishing online is preferred because loved ones can edit content, including video and photo slideshows, and share easily and widely on social media networks. Families use obituaries to tell their loved one’s unique life story and to communicate key information about the visitation, service, or reception. Friends and family members can also leave online condolences that appear instantly.

The ability to share a loved one’s obituary so widely increases the importance of creating a tribute that is accurate, vivid, and compelling. It’s a significant responsibility, but at ­­­­Found and Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service, our caring staff has the knowledge and experience to help you with this. We realize writing an obituary can seem daunting, especially while dealing with the numerous decisions and tasks that must be made in connection to the funeral service. At a time when grief can overwhelm, we are here to help you find the words you want to say.


As you’re preparing to write an obituary, consider these tips to help you get started:


Keep it simple

An obituary can be many things: a notice of death, a story of life, a family record, a request for memorial donations, a source of information about funeral service, and a thank you to special people, institutions or groups who provided help and comfort. It is also a defining statement about the person who has died, so accuracy is crucial. If you are struggling with what information to include, we can offer step-by-step guidance, so you convey your loved one’s personality and contributions in a meaningful way.

Tips for Writing a Meaningful Obituary



Review the obituary to catch misspellings and verify facts

Too often, errors slip by – names are misspelled, dates are incorrect, specifics are overlooked – which is why it is essential to have a number of people proofread before publication. Our caring team, available at our locations in Culpeper County, will make sure to choose appropriate phrasing and confirm correct information.


Take care when selecting what to highlight

Key points in an obituary include childhood, education, career, military service, hobbies and accomplishments. These details serve as a reflection of your loved one and present an opportunity to let his or her personality shine on paper. In many cases, an obituary is the only article ever written about a person’s life and may be the only record of existence that remains centuries later. We realize how important this is, and that’s why we post obituaries on our website free of charge for families we serve. Our online obituaries also provide links to send sympathy flowers and the ability to light a memory candle.


During this difficult time, please remember that our compassionate staff Found and Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service and is here for you with advice, comfort and expertise. Reach out to us today.