Writing the Last Word
If you read the New York Times’s obituary page, you will find row on row of testimonies to people who recently died. Each obituary seems to detail everything about this person’s life on earth. It is more than just the birth and death dates; we are talking about hobbies, high schools, marriages, and a lot of trivia. Reading some of those obituaries can be exhausting.
It might appear tedious to us, but the obituary has special meaning for loved ones left behind. A well-written obituary honors the life of somebody very special. It tells the world who this person was and what mattered to him or her as they progressed through life. The obituary is the final statement, the final notice of someone who was once a living person.
Writing an obituary is not as easy as it looks. The wrong selection of words and sentences can produce a very dry account, and too much verbiage makes it challenging to understand. We believe that in the interests of the survivors and the respect owned for somebody who has died, the obituary should be well-crafted and convey dignity and respect. It is not impossible to do, but the obituary should take more than just 15 minutes to write. It is more than just a freshman English essay and the family will treasure a good one.
It is an announcement of death. An obituary tells the public that a person has died. The dates of life are given and the time and place where the individual died are noted. Obituaries will also let people know if there is a funeral service, where it will be held, and on what date and at what time. Requests for donations to favorite charities, instead of flowers, will also be part of the obituary announcement.
Those are the brass tacks of an obituary and the communication does not have to go any further than those fundamentals. However, the family of the deceased may want more than essential information.
The deceased lived a life and did not necessarily spend it all in a dark room. There were schools attended, marriages, and activities such as serving in the armed forces that created a kaleidoscope of life. The grieving survivors might want to have such events mentioned in the final words about their dead friend or relative.
Obituary: The Administrative Work
This notice is not a Letter to The Editor correspondence dropped in the mailbox and it is not free. Newspapers will have specific requirements for obituary notices, and they will charge for the placement using the line rate to determine the final cost. You must get in touch with the newspaper to not only find out how much is the cost, but also the format the editors expect. This applies only to the print media. If you are posting on social media, then you can be a little more expressive and creative.
We are not trying to sell a Creative Writing course here, but we do know that many people have no idea how to write a proper obituary. It is not something they do regularly. We want to give you some suggestions and advice on how to write an appropriate obituary that honors your deceased loved one.
- The Announcement
This informs people that a person has died. It reveals person’s name and when this individual died. That is simple, but the tone is going to be essential. You do not want to write something like this:
Fred Smith Died Yesterday
Yessss, that does cover the bases, but the style is almost too abrupt. While you do not have to be overly sentimental, you should pay attention to how the wording is going to impact somebody else. Here is a better way.
Fred Smith passed away on February 1, 2019
You could also say
Fred Smith departed this life on February 1, 2019
Fred Smith Left This World to be with His Savior on February 1, 2019
The idea is to bring a little humanity into the message. The original announcement mentioned above is more like a business notice. A little bit of empathy in the wording is going to help whenever you draft an obituary.
- The Summation
This is not the end of the obituary. It is a summary of the deceased’s life. You want to cover the main themes and not be tempted by the trivia. The small things may not only be dull, but they also can be expensive if you are charged by every line in the text.
What was important? Here are some common ideas put into the summation words.
- Where the person was born and grew up
- The schools he or she attended. If college was included, mention the degrees received
- Any military service and where the deceased was stationed
- Employment history and any significant titles
- Organization memberships and religious affiliation
- Particular interests or those hobbies which the deceased enjoyed.
There is some editing work that is required here. You need to focus on significant themes in this person’s life. Everything else can easily be edited out to allow you to include other things in the obituary.
- Family Information
Words about family members are essential to those loved ones who are left behind. They will want to be mentioned. Additionally, those family members who are now deceased, such as parents or grandparents, may add a special meaning to the obituary. The spouse and children must be in the text. If a child is married, then the first name of the spouse is included in parentheses. The surname is included outside of the parentheses. Partners and significant others can also be included in the obituary. You should double-check with family members on any names mentioned and be sure that those names are all spelled correctly.
- Memorial Service and Funeral Information
The words of this part of the obituary are more procedural than sentimental. People outside of the immediate family will want to have an opportunity to pay their last respects to somebody whom they have known for years and worked with. They will want to know if there is a memorial service and the mortuary where the visitation hours will be permitted. When and where the funeral itself occurs is an extremely important piece of information to include in this part of the obituary. Always check for accuracy. It is more than embarrassing if people show up at the wrong place!
The most common message in obituary involves donations. The family may ask that donations to select charities be given in lieu of flowers. Make sure to name the charity and provide any information as far as sending money to that group.
- The Photo
A family may have one or more people with the same name. It gets confusing because other people do not know which one died. It is a reason why photographs are used to identify the recently departed person. This can add to the cost of the obituary, but it is a minor expense.
The photograph you choose to use ought to be in good taste because it is a final representation of an individual. The newspaper may have its own requirements as far as formatting is concerned. The funeral home can also give some suggestions on how to format the photo and might even be willing to do that for the image sent to the newspapers.
An online obituary permits you to expand a little bit more on imagery. You can include other photos that show the deceased enjoying life or participating in favorite activities. It is also possible to have a video of this individual that adds a little bit more to the personality and humanity of someone who is no longer with us.
- Editing the Final Draft
Family members will not forget and might not forgive mistakes made in the obituary. No matter how long it takes to write the text, you must be sure to edit and make any revisions necessary. A good idea is to read the draft out loud and then check it for punctuation mistakes. It is smart to have the obituary draft on your computer to email copies to other people for their input.
Seeking the opinion of other family members allows them to participate in the final writing. That is appreciated. These people knew the deceased intimately and can point out any mistakes made in the original summation. They might also have some additional information that will add to the quality of the final obituary. Keeping an open mind to this possibility is an excellent idea.
- The Submission
The final copy needs to be presented to the newspaper. The funeral homes can do this for you, and the funeral director will check to be sure all is in good order. The obituary needs to be submitted ordinarily several days before the funeral itself.
You should ask the newspaper what the cost will be and how the price is determined. Find out the deadline of submission so that it can be printed on the appropriate day. The newspaper might have international circulation. If your loved one was well-known elsewhere, you might want to have the obituary published in another paper or even another country.
During all this work do not hesitate to ask for advice from other people. The funeral home is perhaps the best source because they deal with obituaries on a routine basis. You could look at the newspaper’s obituary page to find out what style is the most prevalent. You can look at the obituary page of the paper to find out the prevailing style. That way, you have a better chance of submitting something within the newspaper’s guidelines.
Writing an obituary is an important assignment. Fortunately, it is the cheapest funeral activity. Other things that are related to a funeral are much more expensive.
Caskets, funeral services, headstones, and other bereavement expenses may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. A conservative estimate places the cost of a funeral at $10,000, and those invoices must be paid immediately. Burying a loved one might take a big chunk out of the estate. The burial insurance policy is a prudent means of covering those costs. Buying a policy does present a new set of challenges.
A person can buy either a term or a whole life insurance policy to cover burials. Each is a different form of life insurance and it is vital to know the differences. A buyer needs to understand the significance of term limits, health questionnaires, guaranteed acceptance, and waiting periods, among other bits of terminology.
Insurance companies will use sizable marketing campaigns to promote their burial insurance products. Celebrities will encourage people to buy policies that might not fit individual needs. The process gets confusing for someone who is not too familiar with life insurance.
Please let us assist you. We have the expertise you can use to buy an excellent burial insurance policy.
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A funeral has many components that a person may not have anyMandy1989 knowledge of all. We answer questions. We will make suggestions based on our experience, but we will not force the issue. You are the one who decides, and we will make the final purchase as convenient as possible.
An obituary is the last farewell of the deceased. That person now belongs to the past and time. The effort made to write a good obituary is more than worth it. It is something that family members and friends look back on as the years go by, remembering that special person who was once with them.