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Obituary Writing  

Obituary Examples: The Ultimate Guide to Writing an Obituary

Written By Lastly.com

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write an Obituary that Touches the Soul


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The Purpose of an Obituary

The main purpose of writing an obituary is to create a loving, written memory of your loved one. In addition, an obituary is used as a public way of informing family and friends of the person’s death. Obituaries are a great way to celebrate both our commonness and our uncommonness.


It is difficult to inform everyone and to find the time to make a multitude of phone calls to a vast circle of people. In addition, there are probably many friends, former co-workers, and acquaintances whom you may not know to inform. So, writing and publishing an obituary in local newspapers is often the best way to inform everyone of a loved one’s passing. Newspapers are still widely read and circulated, so all will come to know of his/her passing.


You may also want to consider electronic media as a way of publishing your loved one’s obituary. Funeral homes will typically publish your obituary notice on their website. Depending on your comfort level and that of the deceased, you can also publicize the obituary across various social media channels.


Click here to download ebook: How to Write an Obituary


What Information Is Included in an Obituary?

The first step in your obituary guide is determining what to include in your loved one’s obituary. Most newspapers and funeral homes can provide a form that you can complete for the obituary. You’ll mostly need to fill in the blanks and provide some personal details about your loved one’s life.


Most obituaries will include the person’s full and complete name (including any nicknames), date and place of birth, date and place of death, the names of surviving family members (spouse, siblings, parents, children, grandchildren, etc.), education, their last place of employment, volunteer experience, information on any upcoming funeral or memorial services, and where flowers and/or donations can be sent. You may want to temper the information you provide in the obituary with both what the deceased would be comfortable in telling and any space requirements of your publication.


However, you may wish to craft your own obituary or put a different spin on it. More people today are getting away from the old, boring regurgitation of facts and getting creative with writing an obituary. By including personality traits, oft-repeated phrases and advice, habits, hobbies, and more, you can make your loved one’s obituary much more personal, memorable, and fun to read. Whether you are using a template to write an obituary or crafting it yourself, there are still plenty of ways to get creative with a limited space availability. And don’t forget to include a photo!


Standard Obituary Templates

The second step in your obituary guide is creating an obituary. The information you can include in your loved one’s obituary can be nearly limitless. So, you may want to choose which details you want to provide and which details you can make brief or leave out altogether.


Whether you’re creating an obituary for someone else or you are writing your own obituary in advance, it’s worth it to review some templates as you get started. We’ve included a few templates here to get you started. Feel free to customize these to your own needs.


Sample Obituary Template #1

Name of Deceased Person

Year of Birth

Place of Birth

Date of Death

Parents' Names

Spouse's or Significant Other's Name

Children's Names

Grandchildren's Names

Brothers and Sisters



Organizations and Memberships

Awards, Honors, Achievements

Date, Time, Location of Funeral Service and Visitation

Additional Information

Flower Request

Charitable Request

A closing quotation, song lyric, scripture, etc.


Sample Obituary Template #2

Full Name of Deceased (include nicknames, AKA, aliases)

Age of Deceased

Residence (city and state)

Military Service

Employment, Clubs, Memberships, and Affiliations

Hobbies and Interests

Surviving Relatives


Surviving Spouse or Partner

Children (including surviving spouses/partners)

Grandchildren (including surviving spouses/partners, if not too many to list)

Great-Grandchildren (number or list of full names)

Siblings (including surviving spouses/partners)

Predeceased Relatives (preceded in death by)

Memorial Contributions (in lieu of flowers)

Funeral Service Details (visitation, church, chapel or graveside services)

Cemetery for Burial

Include a photo and/or emblem (such as military logo, etc.)


If you search online, you’ll also find a wide variety of obituary templates for special situations or deaths with special circumstances:

  • Unexpected death
  • Death after an accident
  • Child’s death
  • Veteran’s or soldier’s death
  • Cremation
  • Religious/spiritual persons
  • Death due to addiction
  • Body donated to science
  • No services being held
  • Suicide obituary
  • Newborn baby obituary
  • Death due to cancer
  • Obituary with adopted children
  • Obituary with ex-spouse
  • Obituary with stepchildren
  • Pet obituary


Obituary Examples

The third step in your obituary guide is the opportunity to make your loved one’s obituary both personal and memorable. You may choose to create a serious obituary, a personal obituary or a funny obituary. We understand that the creative process can be challenging for some, especially during a time of stress, loss, and mourning. So, we’re providing three examples of some creative, and very personal, obituaries to get you started.


William Freddie McCullough

The man. The myth. The legend. Men wanted to be him and women wanted to be with him. William Freddie McCullough died on September 11, 2013. Freddie loved deep fried Southern food smothered in Cane Syrup, fishing at Santee Cooper Lake, Little Debbie Cakes, Two and a Half Men, beautiful women, Reese’s Cups and Jim Beam. Not necessarily in that order. He hated vegetables and hypocrites. Not necessarily in that order. He was a master craftsman who single -handedly built his beautiful house from the ground up. Freddie was also great at growing fruit trees, grilling chicken and ribs, popping wheelies on his Harley at 50 mph, making everyone feel appreciated and hitting Coke bottles at thirty yards with his 45. When it came to floor covering, Freddie was one of the best in the business. And he loved doing it. Freddie loved to tell stories. And you could be sure 50% of every story was true. You just never knew which 50%. Marshall Matt Dillon, Ben Cartwright and Charlie Harper were his TV heroes. And he was the hero for his six children: Mark, Shain, Clint, Brandice, Ashley and Thomas. Freddie adored the ladies. And they adored him. There isn't enough space here to list all of the women from Freddie's past. There isn't enough space in the Bloomingdale phone book. A few of the more colorful ones were Momma Margie, Crazy Pam, Big Tittie Wanda, Spacy Stacy and Sweet Melissa (he explained that nickname had nothing to do with her attitude). He attracted more women than a shoe sale at Macy's. He got married when he was 18, but it didn't last. Freddie was no quitter, however, so he gave it a shot two more times. It didn't work out with any of the wives, but he managed to stay friends with them and their parents. In between his many adventures, Freddie appeared in several films including The Ordeal of Dr. Mudd, A Time for Miracles, The Conspirator, Double Wide Blues and Pretty Fishes. When Freddie took off for that pool party in the sky, he left behind his sons Mark McCullough, Shain McCullough and his wife Amy, Clint McCullough and his wife Desiree, and Thomas McCullough and his wife Candice; and his daughters Brandice Chambers and her husband Michael, Ashley Cooler and her husband Justin; his brothers Jimmie and Eddie McCullough; and his girlfriend Lisa Hopkins; and seven delightful grandkids. Freddie was killed when he rushed into a burning orphanage to save a group of adorable children. Or maybe not. We all know how he liked to tell stories.

From Legacy.com


Nevena Ann Topic

Ann would like to let you know that her work here is done. She received a call, a sort of an offer you can’t refuse, for an appointment from which she will not be returning. This assignment comes with a huge sign-on bonus, a reunion with family and friends she has not seen in a long time. Job security is exactly 110 percent. Her new mission takes her to a wonderful place where she will be socializing, dancing, gardening and reading to her heart’s content. Music, laughter and love are guaranteed. Food is delicious, and you never gain an ounce. She left detailed instructions for her husband and children to celebrate her mission here, which has now been completed. Low adherence to this instruction will not be tolerated.

We want to let her know that she did a great job and wish her a safe journey. We will remember her smile, her warmth, her energy, her love for life, family and friends, but also students, colleagues and clients, many of whom over time also became friends. She worked very hard all her life, up until the very end. She made a difference in the lives of many. We invite you to join us and celebrate together.

From https://www.calebwilde.com/2014/06/a-hopeful-obituary/


Ida Mae Russel Sills

IDA MAE RUSSELL SILLS began this world as Betty Jean Cherry, the daughter of Howard Cherry and Betty Thompson of Middle Tennessee. In the 1930's it was unthinkable for a child to be born to a single mother. The Thompsons contracted Georgia Tann at the Tennessee Children's Home. Georgia, now famous for selling babies, found a couple who was willing to purchase the child. Everett and Elsie Russell were chosen, who had already adopted one high profile Memphis baby. The Russells renamed their new baby Ida Mae. Ida Mae had a rich but strict childhood. Ida graduated from Messick High School in 1950 and attended Memphis State University. Ida married High School friend, Karl Hadaway. On January 31, 1953, a child was born named Mary Denise. The marriage decayed, and the couple divorced in 1954. Ida's marriage to Karl was a three-ring circus, engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering. Ida met and married Albert Sills in 1960. Ida said, "I never knew what real happiness was until I got remarried, then it was too late". Ida Mae and Albert settled down in Fox Meadows area of Memphis. Albert wanted a son, Ida wanted a dog. Ida quoted "with my way we just ruin the carpet". But on March 6, 1966 a son was happily born named Lee. Albert and Ida owned several dry cleaners and restaurants. Owning your own business with your spouse in the best of times is challenging. Ida worked all day as a Supervisor at the phone company, she would come home and prepare a home cooked meal for the entire family. She managed to pay all the bills, balance the books of the family business and at the end of a long day still be a supporting mother and loving wife. Ida said "Children grow up so fast they're like sand held in your hand. Held loosely, with an open hand, the sand remains where it is. The minute you close your hand and squeeze tightly to hold on, the sand trickles through your fingers". Ida grimaced daily with anticipation of what her gifted children would bring home and ask, "Mom can I keep it?" for Lee it was stray animals but Ida's daughter Denise, well she brought home a steady stream of poor hungry musician friends (are there any other kind). No one was ever turned away or left hungry. It is still a mystery how Ida fed, supported and influenced so many individuals on her budget. At Ida's house gravy was a beverage. Albert retired in 1985, Ida said "great I now get twice the husband and only half the income". Lee went off to college and Denise got married and had a son named Josh. Ida retired from Ma Bell in 1989. After a long illness, Albert passed away from Lung cancer. In Ida's spare time she became an assistant coach to the University of Memphis Tigers, The Memphis Grizzlies, The LA Lakers and The Miami Heat, if not in reality in her mind. As a professional armchair consultant to the NBA, Ida was nick named Hoop Mama Two. Ball handling and dribbling was Ida Mae biggest weakness. If Albert was the frog prince, Ida was certainly the frog queen. Ida loved and collected frogs from all over the world. Ida moved to Waverly Gardens with her dog raven where she made a lot of new friends. Ida developed a cold that progressed into pneumonia. Now Ida was a smoker. She said "to quit smoking well that's easy. I ought to know. I have done it a thousand times" but the years of smoking left Ida's lungs damaged and beyond repair. On this Good Friday March 21, 2008 Ida Mae Russell Sills slipped away and joined her beloved daughter in Heaven. Fortunately, her husband Albert preceded her and joined his mother in a much warmer climate. Ida leaves behind a best friend Betty Brown of Memphis. Few people in this world are privileged to have such a beloved sister. They had many adventures, loves and tragedies over their 70 years of friendship and sisterhood. Ida also leaves one of her greatest joys her grandson Josh. Josh has been the light of her life since his birth. Ida regrets not being here to influence his future children, but she will be watching. Ida lost her daughter Denise Sills Barnes 2 years ago. Denise was a successful local Memphis singer and musician and was a manager with Nike for 15 years. Ida also leaves her son in law Roland Barnes an engineer with Federal Express. Roland has been devoted when many would have moved on after their wife's death. And finally, she leaves her son, her baby Lee. Lee lives in Orange County California and is President of Kredit Banque. Ida influenced so many people, too many to list. Ida is now a falling star who has finally found her place next to her daughter in a lovely constellation, where she will sparkle in the heavens forever. In Lieu of flowers please give the gift of life to Saint Jude Children's Hospital in Ida's name. There will be a celebration of life, Saturday April 19 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Waverly Gardens on Knight Arnold Road.

            From Legacy.com


When to Publish an Obituary

During the days and weeks that follow the death of a loved one, there are a myriad of tasks to manage. One of them is writing an obituary and/or death notice to be published by a local newspaper as well as online. You won’t want to delay in taking care of this task.


The obituary or death notice published in a newspaper is one of the best ways to provide information about the death and any upcoming services. So, you’ll want to be sure to have your obituary published at least a few days prior to any services. In addition, be mindful of any deadlines that the publication may have.


Making Sure Your Loved One Is Remembered

Aside from the initial flurry of activity surrounding the death of a loved one—funeral/memorial service planning, writing the obituary and a eulogy, notifying family, and other tasks—it’s important to ensure that your loved one is remembered. A funeral director can help ensure that you haven’t forgotten any details, and they can help provide some creative ways to help remember your loved one.


Aside from special things you may plan for the funeral and other memorial services, you can assure that your loved one is remembered in any of a variety of ways. You may want to provide a take-home keepsake at any services or send something special to family members and close friends so to remind them of your loved one. You can organize a memorial each year, either on or close to the date of their passing, or on their birthday. If your loved one died in a car accident, you may want to place a memorial at the site of the accident. (Please check with local authorities first.)


How you choose to remember your loved one will be both unique and personal. And the options are unlimited. Here are some other ways to memorialize your loved one:

  • Mount a special item in a shadowbox or frame
  • Create a photo or video album with memories of your time with your loved one
  • Write the story of their life (from your memory and by interviewing others)
  • Plant a tree
  • Build a memorial garden
  • Make a memorial donation in their name
  • Scatter their ashes in a special spot
  • Commission a piece of art
  • Light a candle
  • Dedicate a religious service in their name
  • Fill a glass container (jar, dish, Christmas ornament, etc.) with memories of your loved one
  • Establish an online memorial
  • Create a display in your home
  • Get a tattoo
  • Transfer a treasured recipe onto a dish
  • Publish a recipe book with all of their favorite recipes
  • Preserve their voice
  • Carry on a holiday or family tradition
  • And so much more!


How Does Lastly Help Memorialize Your Loved One?

Lastly.comTM is your partner in memorializing your loved one in the online world. By creating an account, you will have access to create memories of your loved one to be preserved forever online. And you can provide your loved one’s profile to be viewed by anyone you want. Through Lastly.comTM, you can create a family tree, a timeline, upload photos and videos, add stories, and more. We look forward to helping you memorialize your loved one.  If you are still struggling with writing on obituary, use this free obituary writing tool to help get you started.


How to Write an Obituary


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