Preparing Tributes & Obituaries

Preparing Tributes & Obituaries

Obituaries usually come in one of two forms: a short notice; common in local and regional newspapers and the longer style, more common in national newspapers giving a detailed history of the person’s life achievements. You can find samples of obituaries here.

If you decide to write your own obituary before your death you can just leave space for date of death. Here is a useful guide regarding what to include for you or the person writing the obituary.

  • Check with the newspaper you are going to publish in to see if they have any length restrictions and what the cost of insertion will be. Make sure you place the obituary a few days before the funeral.
  • Write the full name of the deceased person.
  • Write the date and place of death.
  • Write down when and where the funeral etc will take place.
  • Detail the main life events beginning with the date and place of birth.
  • Include pertinent information relating to education, universities attended and notable employment.
  • Write down any hobbies and involvement with community, charities or other organisations.
  • Include any major achievements.
  • Write down the names of those surviving including partners, parents and children. You can also mention siblings, grandparents and those who have also died before the deceased.
  • Mention where flowers and contributions should be sent to and give the funeral directors name if relevant.

As a friend or family member you may be asked to give a tribute or eulogy at the funeral. This is your opportunity to say a very personal goodbye and reflect what you and others thought of them. It can be quite difficult to write something that is so emotional, here are some guidelines:

  • As a starting point think about what you loved about that person, how you met them, how your relationship developed and what you will miss about them.
  • Remember this is your personal goodbye and should come from the heart, not everyone may agree with every sentiment but they will appreciate that you have taken the time to write and deliver something at a very hard time.
  • You don’t have to deliver the most amazing piece of perfect prose – it is a tribute to someone you love and you can expect to cry when you speak the words. No one will think badly of you for this.
  • Use the people around you to collect information, anecdotes and stories to include.
  • Be honest. It may be a tribute but make sure you speak of someone you all knew, not an idealised version.
  • However, remember this isn’t the time to voice disagreements or vent anger.
  • Make sure you write down the eulogy or tribute – you won’t remember it on the day.

Writing an obituary or eulogy for someone can be your final gift to them – a way to remember them through your eyes and a gift for everyone else who has suffered the same loss.

You can find helpful information on writing eulogies here.