A eulogy is the life story of a loved one delivered at the funeral or memorial service. A eulogy can be in spoken or written form and is a more in-depth depiction of the deceased’s life.
An obituary is more like a resume of your loved one’s life. It is printed in the newspaper as a notification to the general public that a person has died and honoring him or her with a listing of accomplishments and family background. Because it is printed in a newspaper, it is necessarily word efficient in that newspapers usually charge by the word.
There are, essentially, five parts to an obituary. If you will simply follow that five-part formula you will find that writing an obituary is quite easy to do. The five parts are:
1. The Announcement of Death. 2. Biographical Information. 3. Survivor Information. 4. The Schedule of Funeral or Memorial Services. 5. Where (if desired) contributions may be sent.
Cost: Many funeral homes provide obituary insertion into local newspapers as part of the funeral services package the family has chosen. This will include a specified number of print ‘inches’ in the obituary section. If you want it longer than what they provide, there will be an additional charge.
Deadline: Newspapers are, by their very nature, very time sensitive. You MUST get the obituary information to them (or the funeral home must) at the earliest possible date and time so they can proofread it and get it inserted before press time. And since funeral and memorial services take place 3-4 days after the death, timing is critical. Your funeral home will assist in making sure everything gets done properly and on time. The obituary tells people where and when the services will be held, so giving them as much notice as possible is essential.
Other Newspapers: Sometimes families want the obituary published in additional newspapers, such as where the deceased formerly lived or spent much time. The funeral director can make these arrangements as well. There is a national network he or she uses making this much easier than you handling it. There will be an additional charge.
Read Other Obituaries: If you’ve never done so, pick up a local newspaper and read a number of the printed obituaries. This will greatly help you get a feel for how they are put together and what the local ‘style’ is. Sometimes obituaries are quite formal, others may be almost conversational. You will probably want to write in the same style as is typical in your community.
List the Facts
Before you begin writing, lists the facts that you want included:
First and last name
Birth date and Death date
Residence (city and state)
Children’s names and spouses
When and where the funeral, viewing, wake, or memorial service will take place (if you don’t yet know when the funeral will take place, list the funeral home – people can call there to find out the time and day)
List the other information you want to include:
Some information about the person's education.
Information about the person's vocation.
The person's hobbies. If the person loved stamp collecting and spent a lot of time at it, write it down. If he just did it occasionally to pass the time, then it isn't necessary.
The names of any beloved pets of the deceased.
The birthplace of the deceased, or the names of other places where he lived if they were important to him.
Some information or anecdotes that show the person's quirks or personality traits.
Information about how the person died. Use your discretion with this. Sometimes it is better not to share too much information about the cause of death. The public doesn’t need to know everything. Begin Writing
Begin with your announcement of death: (Name),(age), of (residence) died (or “passed away” or “went to be with the Lord” or another death descriptive phrase), (date).
Example: "Samantha Jones, 74, of DesMoines, died Mar. 16, 2018, with her family by her side."
Biographical Information This is the section for educational background, marital status, employment, etc.: (He/she) was born (place, date of birth, parents). (Name) graduated from (high school name) and received (name of degree) from (name of college). (He/she) was married to (spouse's name) (date of marriage optional).
Example: "She was born to the late John and Sally Jones, Apr. 12, 1948, in Springfield, Illinois. Sandra graduated from John Jay High School in 1961 and received a BA in Biology from the University of Michigan in 1965. She married the late Jack Smith in 1966, and they lived together in Welsley for twenty years before relocating to San Antonio."
Additional Information (optional)
Think of two or three adjectives that describe the deceased or his or her life. Then expand on those words to show how they apply. Let’s use “passionate” as our adjective…
Example: All of her life, Linda was passionate about helping the needy. She spent countless Saturday afternoons at the food pantry in New Baltimore. Feeding the hungry was her mission in life and gave her a sense of purpose….
List the names of the persons children, grandchildren and important family members. Tell where they live and give spouses names. Separate each with a semi-colon.
Example: Linda is survived by two children: Jenny Jones and Samuel Smith. She had four grandchildren: Alice Jones; Tommy Jones; Tina Smith and John Smith.
Information about the Funeral Arrangements
In this final section you list the time, date and place for the memorial or funeral service as well as any charity for contributions you might want people to make.
Example: “In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the American Cancer Society, 234 Dublin, New York, NY 47837”
Example: Visitation will be held at the Santi Funeral Home, 123 Main Street, Clare, on Tuesday, March 2 from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. The funeral will be held at the funeral home on Wednesday at 11:00. A procession to Sacred Heart Cemetery will follow the service.
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