What to Write After the Loss of a Loved One
When a loved one passes on, the last thing someone wants to do is to sit down and write an obituary, having to remember all the aspects of their life to do so. Following such a loss, one is usually overcome with immense shock and grief, making the writing process that much more difficult. But because of the importance of the obituary, it’s necessary to set aside such feelings, and to concentrate on the task at hand.
An obituary can take many forms. Some choose to be quick and concise, giving some information about the cause and conditions of death, along with details regarding the funeral arrangements. For others, an obituary is much more. They turn it into a loving eulogy for their lost loved one, where they can account for family history, warm memories, a detailed life story, or even request for donations and aid to the family.
But squeezing all of this into a short newspaper notice can be difficult, and many families choose to publicize their obituary online. This has become common practice with the rise of social networking sites, and can be an excellent way to speak more dearly of a lost loved one. Copies of this longer obituary can be sent out electronically to friends and family, and will act as an excellent notice of passing, as well as a memorial.
Whether a family chooses to keep the obituary short, or it become significantly longer, there are guiding principles that a good obituary should follow, and can be helpful in writing it.
An obituary is one of the most important things a person may write, perhaps even more so than any school assignment. Typos and mistakes should be avoided throughout the content body, such misspelling names or incorrect dates. It’s important to proofread the obituary to notice these errors, and to ensure that all important and relevant information is included. A great idea is to have another family member or friend proofread the article as well, and to decide on an acceptable length for it.
Many families fail to handle their lost loved ones financial affairs properly following their passing, and this leads them to omit information from the obituary, for fear of identity theft or fraud. It’s a great idea to notify the bank and credit card companies of the deceased immediately, but this information shouldn’t make its way to obituaries nonetheless. Details such as birth dates, maiden names, and past places of residence can be helpful for families looking to trace their ideology, and can act as an alert for old friends and acquaintances of the deceased. By dealing with these details immediately, there’s no fear of including details in the obituary.
An obituary is an opportunity to memorialize and honor the deceased, and great care should be put into writing it. Their life had a story, and this story deserves to be told. It should discuss more than the love and adoration that their family had for them, but also qualities that they held which made it so. A good rule of thumb is to use descriptive adjectives that describe the person well, as well as important details from their life. Discussing what made them so memorable is a great way to celebrate their life, and to grieve their passing.
Obituaries are not the kind of thing that people write on a regular basis, so it’s understandable that writing one can be a new and challenging experience. There are many templates available online, as well as informative resources with writing tips. Formatting is usually the most difficult aspect of writing an obituary, as this can depend on the format and newspaper in which one chooses to publish it. Referring to the obituary section of newspapers is an excellent way to get a grasp of how they’re written, how long they should be, and what information is important to include. One can even go so far as to contact the newspaper or website to inquire about rates and formatting requirements.
The obituary is not meant for the family, but rather for the deceased person. Discussing how the family feels or how it will move on is not relevant to a discussion of the lost one’s life, and will not help readers looking for information in this obituary. Many families become disillusioned when writing an obituary, and forget who it’s meant to be for. They refer to the deceased as ‘grandfather’ or ‘uncle’ rather than using their full name, making it confusing for readers to identify them. The obituary should discuss the deceased person and what kind of life they lived, only then switching to how the family is reacting, or what role the deceased played in their lives.
Writing an obituary doesn’t have to be a traumatic or difficult experience. For those dealing with it for the first time, this process can be very daunting, but with a little help from online resources, and those that have already done it, it can become more of a grieving process than a stressful one. By memorializing the deceased, one is able to remember the best moments of their life, and to put in writing why the deceased was so important to their life, and the life of their family.