Memorializing A Loved One
Writing an Effective Obituary
Following the loss of a loved one it may be difficult to distill a life time of experiences into a few paragraphs. Printed Obituaries in your local newspaper can cost several hundred dollars for less than 200 words so expressing your thoughts succinctly is important (note: Archive.Life offers free obituaries).
Here are some tips for a 100-200 word obituary-
Title- Include the Decedents name.
(Example) Remembering Mae Williams
First Paragraph – Include birthday place, birthdate, death date, death location, cause of death (if not too personal), status of in order (spouse/partner, children, grandchild). If the decedent is a child or younger person, include the status of their parents.
Mary Ling was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 13, 1954. On March 17, 2018 Mary was killed in a vehicle accident near Tampa Florida. Mary is survived by her husband John, daughter Flow Richards, son Shawn Clever and two grandchildren.
Second Paragraph- Brief summarize the decedents early family structure. Mention their parents if not mentioned in the first paragraph. Also state number of siblings, position of birth, and city of residence if different than birth city.
Mark was born to Gene and Violet Summers he was the youngest of three children. When Mark was four, he and his family moved to Charlottesville, North Carolina.
Third Paragraph- Capture the major theme of their adult life. If the decedent is a child focus of favorite activities, hobbies or place to visit. This paragraph can be tricky, often people have several very different careers or themes over the course of their lives. If you can't think of one or a few things that a person focused on try to remember their favorite thing to do (read, cook, exercise, repair things, etc.). If nothing comes to mind still, try to describe their personality in three words (energetic, reclusive, inquisitive, social, etc.).
As a young pianist Shawn showed enough potential to be admitted to the prestigious Juilliard academy at the age of 15. In 1985, Shaw became the youngest solo pianist to tour with the renowned Boston Orchestra. Shawn married fellow musician Stacy Clever in 1999. Together they toured the world with the Jazz Orchestral band The Shining Prism.
Final Paragraph- If death is recent and the obituary will be published prior to a memorial service, state the date, time and location of the service. If no service is planned or the service has already occurred wrap up by stating that the decedent will be missed.
(Example) A memorial will be held 10am, January 10, 2016 at Our Holy Names in Fresno, CA.
(Example #2) Noel will be lovingly remembered as a devoted Wife, Mother, Sister, Sister-in-law, Aunt, Cousin, Friend, Servant, Healer, Colleague and Mother-in-law.
Longer Obituaries (Like at Archive.Life)
If you are not constrained by the length of the obituary expand on the decedent’s live journey. You can explain what led up to them choosing the career path they chose. Mention a job transfer that had a meaningful impact or a childhood experience that shaped their perspective. Add this after paragraph three.
(Example) When Beth was growing up in Trenton her family would spend two weeks each summer at the Jersey shore. While walking on the beach one year came across an injured harbor seal. It was at that point the future renowned marine biologist had found her calling.
Achievements and Awards
Space permitting list personal and professional achievements , awards and accolades. Place these after paragraphs detailing their life’s journey. If the list is lengthy feel free to format the list in bullet points.
(Example) In 1984, while in high school Sharon was crowned Fulton County rodeo queen. Fully investing into her children’s education led Sharon to serve as PTA president for three years. Sharon was named top realtor of Clark Country in 1999 and 2003. After surviving breast cancer, in 2008 Sharon hiked the entire Appalachian trail.