What is an Obituary?

For some people, part of their early morning routine is checking the daily paper, not just for the latest news in politics, sports, entertainment, and current events, but for the thing, you would least expect: the obituaries.The loss of a loved one is always a difficult time to go through. As a tribute towards the people who mean the most to us, preparing an obituary that represents who they were as an individual is a great way to acknowledge the pain of their passing along with the joy that their presence has brought us. You may also see obituary writing.

Definition

An obituary is a published notice, like that of a funeral notice, of an individual’s passing, which often comes with a short biography of the deceased. It’s a final farewell that also provides service details that certain individuals may want to know about. In most cases, journalists are responsible for writing obituaries on print and digital media, such as newspapers and web articles. However, it’s a journalist’s job to come up with good material, which can become redundant and boring after a while. Although this is merely considered as a job task to them, it is so much more than that to the family and friends of the deceased.

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If you ever have to prepare an obituary, whether it’s a friend, a colleague or a family member, it would be best to start by reading some examples. Sample obituaries help guide you with the right words to say, and the appropriate qualities and characteristics to emphasize. Obituaries may be written in different styles, but all serve the same purpose, which is to remember the deceased in a way that people can look back to.

Like funeral speeches, an obituary must stay personal. You can state positive attributes that make a person who she or he is. This includes hobbies, favorites, and other random traits that stand out. But if you want to keep your obituary short and simple, you can write down a brief background about the person’s immediate family and those who he or she has left behind.

Let’s take a look at the following fictitious examples of an obituary:

Example 1

James Archibald Garrett, 76, of West Yorkshire, former chairman of the Maths Department at Yorkshire College of Music and Drama, died Tuesday, January 15, 2008, in Goole & District Hospital after a long but courageous battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Jessie Alessandra Garrett, his two children, Cathy Jane Garrett-Turner and Jason Blake Garrett, and four grandchildren, Jeremiah, Acacia, Margarette, and Josephine. Adam started a charity program with his wife in 1994 to give underprivileged children the chance to explore the arts. He enjoyed spending his time playing golf, walking his two dogs, and cooking meals for his grandchildren. There will be a memorial service at St. Oswald’s Church, North Yorkshire at 1:30 pm on the 19th of January, 2008. 

Example 2

It is with great sadness that the family of Stephen Reese Maddock announces his passing after a brief illness, on Tuesday, February 17, 2015, at the age of 77 years. Stephen will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 50 years, Franchesca and his children, Michael (Samantha), Bradley (Jenny), Chrissy Anne (Daniel) Garcia, and Luke (Heidi). Stephen will also be remembered by his nine grandchildren, Brock, Makayla, Jackie, Paul, Jonnah, Mackee, Annabelle, Andy, and Austin, by his sisters, Anna (Joe) Stevens, Anna Rudolph and by sister-in-law Hannah Maddock. Stephen was predeceased by his brother Anton Maddock.

A Funeral Service in memory of Stephen will be held on Friday, February 20, 2015, at 3:00 p.m., at the Oliver’s Funeral Home, 10005 – 107 Ave, Grande Prairie, with Rev. Andrei Bartolomeu officiating. Interment will follow in the family plot at Emerson National Cemetery. Those who so desire may make memorial donations in memory of Stephen to the Maddock Foundation of St. Lauderdale.

As you may have noticed, the examples above have the basic elements of an obituary: the announcement of one’s passing, the cause of death, family information, a special message, as well as service details. But keep in mind that some obituaries may lack certain components, as obituaries are written according to the request and preference of family members.

There are other personal obituary examples that are shorter and much more specific than most, such as the one below:

Serena L. Miller, 28, of Baltimore, died Friday, March 25, 2005, at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. A memorial service will be held at a later date in Annapolis, Maryland, where her father resides.

Serena Louisa Miller was born in Maryland. She graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School and Morgan State University. She earned a Master’s degree in Art History from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She worked for Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Baltimore.

She is survived by her parents, Nickolas Miller and Jennifer Louisa-Miller, and siblings, Sasha Grace and Andrew. 

Memorial service: Tuesday at 10:30 am in the General Auditorium, Morgan State University, Baltimore.

However, not all obituaries possess a serious tone. Some people like to request friends and family, or even their lawyer, for an obituary with a touch of humor. It could include expressions of irony, such as “He died, I suppose,” or “She left her candle burning in the bathroom,” just to make it seem unique and different than what one would expect.

Importance of an Obituary

With the presence of technology and social media as a channel for efficient dissemination of information, why do you think newspaper obituaries still exist?

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The answer to this question is quite simple. For one, the obituary serves as a call to the community for support. While we all deal with grief differently, some families require more support both emotionally and financially during these difficult times. Announcing one’s passing publicly for others to see is also a great way to reach out to those who may have known the deceased one way or another, such as former students or colleagues, or maybe old friends who have failed to keep in touch in the recent years. This will give others the opportunity to pay their respect and say their final goodbyes to those who have played a role in their life. You may also see obituary for your business.

Unfortunately, some people fail to recognize the significance of an obituary as a tool for presenting a given person in a meaningful way. When writing an obituary, it’s not enough to just use it as a mere announcement of one’s passing. Although that may be the primary purpose of an obituary, it’s essential to convey the personality and contributions of the deceased in a way that provides comfort and joy to those who care about the individual. The worst thing you could do is to transform the wonderful years a person has spent in this world into a hasty piece that was made for the sake of it. The last thing the grieving family needs is an obituary that drips with insincerity.

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