How To Write A Good Obituary

How To Write A Good Obituary

An obituary can be a deeply personal and meaningful way to honor a loved one who has passed away. But it’s also tough for many people.

To make it easier, think of this as one last chance to say everything that should be said about your loved one. It is a page in the history of your family. This writing will be looked upon by future generations who will be seeking a connection.

It is an important document that should not be ignored. It's probably as crucial as picking out the right urn or deciding where to display the urn

Why Write The Obituary Yourself?

Some families choose to have a professional obituary writer or funeral director write an obituary for them. But there are several reasons why it may be better for the family to write the obituary themselves.

  • Writing an obituary yourself allows you to personalize it and include details that are important to you and your family. You can include personal anecdotes, memories, and stories that may not be included in a generic obituary.
  • Writing the obituary yourself can save money that can be used for other funeral expenses.
  • No one knows your loved one better than you and your family. Writing the obituary yourselves ensures that all details are accurate and true to your loved one's life and legacy.

Why Hire Someone To Write The Obituary

There are also many reasons why a family would hire someone else to write a loved one’s obituary.

  • When grieving, it can be difficult to remain objective and clear-headed when writing an obituary. Hiring a professional writer can provide an outside perspective and ensure that the obituary is well-written and accurate.
  • Professional obituary writers are skilled at crafting well-written, engaging obituaries that capture the essence of a person's life and legacy. They know how to structure an obituary, choose appropriate language, and highlight the most important aspects of a person's life.
  • Writing an obituary can be time-consuming. Many families may not have the time or energy to dedicate to writing a comprehensive obituary while also dealing with grief and other funeral arrangements.
  • For families whose first language is not English or who may struggle with writing in general, hiring a professional obituary writer can ensure that the obituary is well-written and accurately reflects the deceased person's life and legacy.
  • Some families may simply prefer to have a professional take care of the obituary writing process so that they can focus on grieving and honoring their loved ones in other ways.

This Is A Historical Document

Whichever way you choose, the writing of an obituary should not be ignored. It is the last chapter in your friend or loved one’s life. It is their life story.

In a few decades or a few hundred years, the obituary could be the only document that still exists in reference to your loved one. What the obituary says will be the only truth they have. Future generations who want to know more about your loved one will look back fondly and feel a connection based on the words you write.

Think about the last time you went online to search your genealogy. What about the last time you asked your parent about their parents or grandparents? This is your chance to tell the story people will hear a hundred years from now.

Make it a good story.

A Free Outline

On my Etsy page, I actually charge for this outline. I also offer to write obituaries for a small charge. I have been reading and writing obituaries for many years. My obituary first was written in a Journalism class in college in 1983. I don't remember the grade I received but I did pass the class.

So here is a quick outline of what should go in an obituary. It could be short or it could be long. But it should at least have these basic parts.


[Full Name], [Age], [Date of Birth] - [Date of Death]

[Paragraph 1 - Early Life]

Begin by introducing the deceased and providing some background information about their early life. This can include their birthplace, family, education, and any significant life events.

[Paragraph 2 - Career/Professional Life]

Include information about the deceased's career or professional life, including any notable accomplishments, awards, or recognition.

[Paragraph 3 - Personal Life]

Discuss the deceased's personal life, including their family, hobbies, interests, and passions. You can also include any community involvement, volunteer work, or other notable activities outside of work.

[Paragraph 4 - Legacy]

Discuss the deceased's legacy, including the impact they had on their community, family, friends, and the world. You can also mention any charitable contributions or causes that were important to them.


End with a brief summary and a final statement. You can say something like "he/she will be deeply missed by all who knew him/her". O "her/his memory will live on in the hearts of those who loved her/him".

[Funeral Arrangements]

Include details about any funeral or memorial services. Make sure you give the date, time, and location. Don't forget any requests from the family for donations or contributions in lieu of flowers.


Include a photo of the deceased to accompany the obituary.


Write What You Know

Writing an obituary is hard. I totally agree. Just the emotional part is hard to overcome. But when you think about grammar and spelling and syntax it becomes a daunting task.

My best advice is to relax. Just write what you know. Don’t try to win the Pulitzer Prize with your obituary. Instead, use it to document the life of someone that you loved and knew very well. Future generations will thank you for this.

Don't Ask AI To Do It For You

Just for kicks and giggles, I asked Chat GPT to write an obituary for Stan Reese. To be fair, I didn't give the Artificial Intelligence tool any more information. It is, after all, intelligent. Right? 

An AI generated obituary for Eternal Alaska President Stan Reese. He is still alive and he is not a golfer.

When I pressed enter, the tool quickly spit out an elegant memorial notice for me - Stan Reese. But it assigned me a wife and two more children. Worse yet, it accused me of being a golfer! An avid golfer! 

For crying out loud, I don't play golf. I don't need an excuse to cheat and drink beer and cuss. 

Stan Reese is President of Eternal Alaska


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.