How to Write an Obituary

Writing an obituary can be one of the most difficult tasks for a grieving employee. How can you help?

Offer to proofread the obit.

If this isn’t your wheelhouse, ask someone in your department or in another department such as marketing/communications or HR to check for grammatical mistakes or typos.

Want to help your employee write the obituary?

Questions to ask:

  • Name of deceased love one – confirm spelling.
  • Date of birth/date of death
  • No one wants to be remembered for only how they died, but for the life they lived. What were some of the endearing and memorable personality traits/characteristics? What’s something they stood for that can inspire others? What were their hobbies/interests? What were some of the personal and/or professional accomplishments that their loved one was proud of?
  • In addition to the family, who were people their loved one was especially close to over the course of their lifetime? Did they have a special partner, companion or friend? Consider including the names of anyone who may have helped with caretaking toward the end of life.
  • Memorial service/funeral information

Other considerations.

  • Do you wish to state how the loved one died?
  • Will donations be accepted? If so, offer instructions or a link for donors.
  • If the family doesn’t want donations, consider asking those honoring the loved one’s legacy by doing something kind, paying it forward, or writing down a memory about the loved one on the tribute page.

Avoid common pitfalls.

Make the obituary about the person who died rather than the family left behind. For example, recommends avoiding language like “The family regrets to announce” or using terms like “Mom” or “Dad,” which refer back to the author instead of focusing on the loved one.

Be aware of Obituary Scams.

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