How To Write An Obituary

A simple checklist for making sure your obituary honors and informs.

When a loved one has passed away, writing an obituary that honors their life can seem overwhelming. Don’t worry - your obituary will honor their life simply by the act of you writing it. You want to celebrate your loved one’s life and offer happy or enjoyable memories. You are helping to ease the pain of others simply by telling a story about your loved one.

We hope that this checklist will take the stress and pressure off of you and allow you to honor your loved one simply. Remember, your funeral arranger is an experienced professional, and he/she is a valuable resource for writing the obituary.

1. Include all the basic details about the person’s life.

You don’t have to include all of this information, but here are the basics that are often included in an obituary. Choose the elements that are most relevant to your loved one:

  • Age
  • Any familial survivors
  • Education
  • Vocation
  • When the person retired, if relevant
  • Any military affiliations
  • Any volunteer affiliations

2. Include funeral information.

Family and friends often rely on an obituary for information on when and where a person’s life will be celebrated, so your obituary will make it very simple for them to get that information (and will save you the hassle of having to answer lots of questions at a time when you would prefer not to be bothered with small details). You can include:

  • Date and time of the funeral
  • Place the funeral is being held
  • Any viewing details
  • Requests for donations in lieu of flowers

3. Add a few details about the person’s loves and interests.

Need a prompt on what to include? Just think about some of the following:

  • Career or job

  • Personal accomplishments, awards, or recognition they received

  • Hobbies & special interests such as sports, outdoor activities, crafts or projects, leisure activities
  • Volunteer projects, organizations or groups that meant a great deal to your loved one

An obituary is your chance to tell a story about your loved one and bring color to all the wonderful details of their life. This person was so special to you and it’s great for the world to hear about the life that they led and the honorable person they were. An obituary lives on for a long time, so celebrate your loved one here.

Order of Christian Funerals

Roman Catholic Diocese of AlbanyGuidelines for the Reflection on the Life of the Deceased

To the Family Member or Friend who will be giving a reflection on the life of the deceased:

Please accept the condolences and prayers of the people of the Diocese of Albany as you mark the passing from this life to the next of someone with whom you have been close as you mourn their absence. The family has entrusted you with a sacred task in asking you to speak on their behalf These guidelines are offered to assist you in your preparation and the delivery of your remarks.

  • The purpose of the reflection is to draw attention to the deceased as his or her life bore witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • A question for you to consider is how did he or she most resemble Christ 1. in their relationship with others, 2. their perspective on right and wrong, 3. their suffering, 4. their faith in our Heavenly Father's concern for all people?
  • Christians believe that in death life is changed, not ended. Wherever possible consider not only the past and significant events in the person's life but also look forward to the time when all the faithful will be together again.
  • A story or example is a helpful means to illustrate a point.
  • Only one person may speak at a funeral Mass. This may be done following the Prayer after Communion or before the funeral liturgy begins. Reflections on the life of the deceased may also be given at the Vigil for the Deceased (wake service) and / or the committal. More than one person may speak at these times.
  • Your remarks are limited to no more than two to three minutes in duration.
  • It is appropriate and recommended that you review beforehand what you intend to say with the priest or pastoral minister who is assisting the family in preparing for the funeral liturgy. Additionally, the diocesan Office of Prayer and Worship is also available to help you, if needed, at (518) 453-6645.
  • Rehearsing your remarks aloud will help you to prepare and feel more self-assured when speaking during the funeral service.
  • At no time is it acceptable to use coarse or profane language or to engage in actions that would not ordinarily take place during a sacred ritual.

Approved by Howard J. Hubbard, DD, Bishop of Albany, January 31, 2006