Announcing the Death of a Loved One
Worried about how to announce the death of a loved one?
Are you trying to write an obituary?
Getting prepared for an upcoming death in your family?
What Is a Death Announcement?
During a time of mourning and grief, it can be difficult deciding how to announce the death of a loved one. There’s a lot happening all at once, and most tasks that occur after a person’s death need to be managed in a matter of days.
Simply put, a death announcement is a paid announcement that is typically published in a newspaper or another local publication that is used to inform the public of one's passing. A announcement of death can also be referred to as a death notice. A death announcement is typically brief, and it includes basic information about the deceased.
In contrast, an obituary is a more detailed biographical account of the person who has passed. Some newspapers will opt to write the obituary themselves. However, more people today are writing the obituary for their family member or even writing their own obituary before their passing.
What to Include in a Death Announcement
When writing a death announcement, you’ll want to include some basic information. You should provide the name of the person who died and details regarding the funeral or memorial service. You may also want to include designated organizations where donations can be made in the deceased's name as well as a small amount of biographical information.
Truly, how much information you include in a death announcement or an obituary is up to you. You may or may not be limited by time, budget or word limit/publication space.
At minimum, you’ll want to include some basic information in your loved one’s death notice.
- Full name of the deceased, including a maiden name, former married names, and any nicknames
- Date and location of death
- Cause of death (optional)
- Survived by (names of surviving family members - optional)
- Funeral details/memorial service (public or private); if public, provide date, time and location
- Name of organization/charity for donations
If you are preparing a longer death announcement, you may also want to include some biographical information.
- Date and place of birth
- Date and place of marriage
- Spouse and children
- Education, including schools attended and any degrees/honors
- Military service, including any honors/awards
- Employment history, including positions held and awards/achievements
- Memberships in organizations, including religious, civic, cultural, and fraternal
- Special accomplishments
- Hobbies and interests
- Personal details: personality, humor, likes/dislikes, etc.
- Information from research or a genealogical society
Your funeral director can also be a source of information and will hep with announcement wording that might be more common in your area.
How to Write a Death Announcement
Depending on your emotional state and time available, you may want to write a short, simple death announcement. However, if you have the time you may want to provide a few more details. You may choose to publish a basic announcement in the newspaper, while providing a more detailed and personal announcement to family and friends.
Here is some sample wording for a death announcement to get you started. As you can see, there are several ways to provide the same information.
- The Walter family announces with great sadness the loss of their beloved father, George, age 91, on March 14, 2017.
- The Walter family announces the passing of their father, George Herbert, who died peacefully on March 14, 2017.
- George Herbert Walter. 91. Our beloved father passed away on March 14, 2017.
You can continue by providing information regarding funeral details or memorial service arrangements as well as where donations can be sent in honor of the deceased.
What Is a Funeral Service or Memorial Announcement Card?
A funeral service or memorial service announcement card is another way to memorialize your loved one. Cards can be given to those who call on the family at home as well as those who attend a wake or viewing, the memorial or funeral service. The family and friends of your loved one will have the card to keep as a memory of the deceased.
With today’s technology, you can create a tasteful funeral announcement card using online websites, by ordering them online, using a death notice template or having them printed by a local printer.
You may want to include some or all of the following information on a funeral service card.
- Name and photo of loved one
- Birth date and death date (or just the years)
- Quote, poem or scripture
- Brief overview of their life
- Information regarding final arrangements
Alternatives to Publishing an Obituary
Not everyone enjoys writing. If writing is not something you enjoy, you may want to enlist some help to write your family member’s obituary or your own obituary/autobiography. Try asking a family member or a friend to help, use obituary templates online or seek a professional writer to help craft the obituary. It is also becoming much more common for loved one's to share sad news online and to post death notices and obituaries on their social media accounts. This allows them to grieve with their friends on social platforms and to receive condolences and messages of concern and support.
Whichever way you choose to leave a legacy is up to you. In addition to a written obituary, you may want to consider other options to memorialize your loved one. You can create a collage or booklet of photos that represent different periods of his/her life. You can put together a CD or playlist of their favorite songs, incorporating some audio recordings of their voice (if available). You can also create a video using still photos or other shorter videos taken throughout his/her life.
Another newer option is to create a lasting, permanent obituary online. Lastly.com gives you the ability to upload photos, videos, newspaper clippings, and more as part of a visual history for your loved one. You can add important dates to a timeline of your loved one’s life, then match any photos or video to each event. In addition, you can add any general stories as well as pertinent information and details for events on your loved one’s timeline.
An online obituary or life story is then accessible to anyone you’d like. Family members and friends can go online anytime to view your creation and reminisce about the deceased.
How to Write a Condolence Letter
Lastly, perhaps you are not the one who needs to be consoled. Instead, you may be the one who needs to console. In that case, writing a condolence letter can be a comforting thing—both for the writer and the recipient. Writing a condolence letter can also be a bit uncomfortable. But to the recipient, each small gesture can help them on their way to peace and healing from their loss.
It’s perfectly Okay to say that you are at a loss for words, you don’t know what to say or something of the like. No one will fault you for being honest. After all, you are only human. Keep in mind that the recipient may be at a loss for words, too. And your words can be of comfort during their time of grief.
When writing a condolence letter, start by saying you’re sorry for the person’s loss. Be sure to mention the deceased’s name as well as your connection to the person or the family. Then take the time to reminisce about what that person meant to you. Include some memories or funny stories that can bring a smile to the recipient of your letter. What about that person was unique or memorable? Don’t hesitate to share those thoughts.
Then be sure to close the condolence letter properly. You’ll want to let the recipient know that he or she, as well as their family, continues to be in your thoughts and prayers, that you wish them peace and healing or that you know the memory of their loved one will live on.
When you prepare your letter for mailing, be sure to address it clearly. Include your return address along with a pretty, uplifting stamp.
Writing a condolence letter is a small act that can mean a lot to the recipient of your letter. When you take the time to give this small gift, you are taking the time to provide healing to the other person. Don’t underestimate the power of kindness.
If you are needing to do more to secure the legacy of your loved one, you might want to document their life story. Sadly, the story of most people's lives dies along with them.
Lastly.com enables you to easily capture the stories and special moments throughout one's life so that they will be remembered and cherished by future generations.