Guidelines for writing a loved one's obituary

Writing an obituary is one of the most intimate steps in beginning the grieving process.

How can you sum up a loved one’s life in a few sentences?

How would you sum up your own life in a few sentences?

As you sit down to write your loved one’s obituary, or perhaps even your own, consider a few simple steps to begin with. List the basics first. Write down their name, age, spouse, children, parents, etc. and, if there will be a memorial service, the information can be shared here.

Then consider the things that your loved one was passionate about, what brought them joy. What was unique or inspirational about them? What they would have wanted others to remember about them? 

After you have touched on those areas, consider then writing about their history, where they went to college. Did they work with a company or a charity, or what about a community or church group? Any accomplishments or challenges they overcame could be mentioned as well.

Then last, but not least, consider adding humor to your loved one’s obituary, something that portrays them personally. It is important not to make the entire obituary humorous, but a little dash of humor can often add something of their personality to the obituary.

Writing an obituary can often be a difficult task, but for many also an honor. Summing up an individual’s life in a few short paragraphs is no easy task. Even so, it is encouraged that when you write out an obituary, to really consider the person’s entire life and not only the last few years of it. While many choose to mention the illness that may have taken their loved one, that illness was not all that they were.

For more information, consider visiting for many more examples and helpful hints.

If you or a loved one are living with a life-limiting illness and would like additional support, Hospice of Anchorage is just a phone call away. Hospice of Anchorage seeks to come alongside individuals and their families to best support them in whatever way we can. We do not charge for services, we connect individuals to community resources, provide psychosocial support, registered nursing support and volunteer support. For more information, call our office at 907-561-5322.

Sarah Davidson is the Hospice of Anchorage Clinical Coordinator.

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