How to write an obituary using an obituary template

using an obituary template

  • The obituary template you will use for a loved one may depend on the publication in which it will appear
  • All obituaries follow a general format, which includes basic details about the individual’s life, a brief life story, a description of their personality, a statement about why they will be missed, where services will be held, and information about any charitable donations people may wish to make.
  • Keep it simple, but positive and direct. Consider writing a long reflection, then paring it down for publication.

Sitting down to write an obituary can seem like a daunting task. It’s one of the first things people do following the death of a loved one to notify the wider community of their passing. When you are grieving, putting forth the effort to produce a concise description of their life may feel overwhelming. 

Luckily, many obituaries follow a similar format, which simplifies the process of selecting which details about your loved one’s life to include, and which ones to omit. Within that framework, however, there is still room to give your loved one’s obituary a personal touch. If you ever feel that the writing is too much, take a break. It’s helpful to keep in the back of your mind that the obituary is the way we let the wider world know how special and unique a loved one’s life and presence were. 


Obituary Templates Offer Basic Formatting

There is no right way to write an obituary. However, obituary templates can offer basic formatting that will serve as the springboard for a well-written obituary. It begins with a short sentence about the basics of your loved one’s life. This section typically states their full name, their place of birth, their long-term residence, where they passed away, and on what date they passed away. Writing down this information is a good place to begin if you are having trouble getting the writing wheels turning. 

The next paragraph generally includes their life story. This is the part many people find to be the most difficult. What should be included? How long should it be? Where should it begin? How much detail do I want to go into? These are all valid questions. It’s easy to get hung up on them. Before you let them keep you from moving forward, though, consider writing down everything you might wish to include. This might be pages and pages of material or something just a bit longer than the paragraph that will appear in the final obituary. View this as an opportunity to sit down and deeply reflect and interact with the thoughts and memories you have of your loved one. Let it be a light moment in a dark time. 


Choosing Meaningful Reflections

Once all of the thoughts you might want to include in the obituary are on the page, start to pare them down. It doesn’t need to be overly detailed. Focus on general aspects of their life, like where they worked, if they had any hobbies, or what they prided themselves most on. If you’re having difficulty with this portion, or any other portion of the obituary, do your best to reach out to someone you think may have good insight into the topic at hand. You may be surprised to learn something new. 

Once you have selected important details, include some reflections on your loved one’s personality and characteristics. As with other parts of the obituary, don’t feel pressured to go into too much detail. A few remarks on what made your loved one such a special and unique individual will do. Illustrating these traits with tidbits from their life is a colorful way to add meaning to this portion. If you find yourself stuck on what to select for this section, consider writing down more than you know will fit and then scaling it back. 


Highlighting Important Information

Finally, make sure to mention both their surviving family members, as well as those who may have preceded them in passing. Include the date and location of the memorial service, if one is planned. Often, but not always, people may name one or many charitable organizations to which a donation may be made in their memory. This section is typically found at the bottom of an obituary template, ensuring that community members have access to pertinent information related to services and planned memorials.


Obituary Templates For Newsletters and Other Publications

Most standard newspaper obituaries follow the general format above. It is only a few paragraphs in length and typically only occupies one column of a page. However, if your loved one belonged to any communities, such as an alumni group, a religious organization, or a club, they may publish a newsletter in which obituaries for past members can be featured. They are usually longer, as they would have had a more intimate relationship with the members of the organization than they did with the public. 

If you wish to write an obituary for one of these publications, focus on providing anecdotes about their membership in that specific organization. Reach out to members of that community to source meaningful stories about them. Find out if they received any awards, accolades, or special recognitions from the organization and mention those in the obituary. This obituary can also provide an opportunity to include material that you may have omitted from the newspaper obituary.


If, at any point in the process, you feel overwhelmed, find refuge in your memories of the time you spent with your loved one during their rich and full life. You might be pleasantly surprised at just how much you recollect. With the help of an obituary template, creating an insightful, well-written obituary can be a meaningful way to reflect on the life of your loved one.

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