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Writing an Obituary

What is an obituary?

More than merely a "good-bye" to the deceased, this is a farewell which can, in chronological order, detail the life of the deceased. An obituary also serves as notification that an individual has passed away and details of the services that are to take place. An obituary's length may be somewhat dictated by the space available in the newspaper it is to appear in. Therefore it's best to check how much room you have before you begin your composition. Remember that the obituary needs to appear in print a few days prior to the memorial service. There are some cases where this may not be possible, therefore give some consideration to the guidelines below when composing the obituary.

What to include?

Naturally, it is vital that the full name, along with the location and date of passing is included so that there is no confusion over whom has died. You may wish to consider placing a photograph (which can appear as black & white or in color depending on the newspaper's layout) with the text. There are usually extra charges applied if you are thinking of using a photograph. If you wish, mention where the deceased resided. This will normally only include the street, city and region/state/province/county. The street number is not normally included for reasons of security.

In a concise manner, write about the significant events in the life of the deceased. This may include the schools he or she attended and any degrees attained; you may also include any vocations or interests that the deceased was involved with.

Survivors

It is common to include a list of those who have survived the deceased. The list should include (where applicable):

  • Parents
  • Spouse and children
  • Adopted children
  • Half & step children
  • Siblings
  • Half- & step-siblings
  • Grandparents

The surviving relatives listed above may be listed by name. Other relatives will not be mentioned by name but may be included in terms of their relationship to the deceased. In other words, the obituary may mention that the deceased had 5 grandchildren; 7 nieces etc. However, exceptions to the above rule can be made if, for example, the deceased only had one grandchild or a nephew who was the only person living in the newspaper's distribution area. These exceptions are obviously made based on each individual case.

Also, anyone listed as a special friend or companion is not normally included amongst the list of survivors unless the deceased's blood relatives request that it be so. The obituary's traditional purpose is to list survivors either related through the bloodline or marriage.

Additional information such as where the body will be laid to rest and any pallbearer's names or names of honorary pallbearers may be mentioned.

At this point list the details of the time and location of any services for the deceased: these may include the funeral, burial, wake and memorial service where appropriate.

Do's & Don'ts

If you don't know where to start, do read other obituaries to gain an idea of how personal and touching an obituary may be.

Do use such terms as "visitation will be from" or "friends may call from". Do not utilize the phrase "lie in state" as that only applies to a head of state such as the prime minister or president.

Do consider if you wish to send the obituary to newspapers in other cities e.g. to a town where the deceased may have resided previously. Obtain copies of the obituary to send to distant relatives and friends.

Final Considerations

Any and all information to be included in the obituary should be verified with another family member. A newspaper will have to verify with the funeral home being utilized that the deceased is in fact being taken care of by that funeral home.

Seeing as most newspapers charge by the word when placing an obituary, it may not always be feasible to mention everything that we have stated in our guidelines. Use your own discretion and do not put yourself under any financial hardship. Your loved one would understand.

Daily Grief Support by Email

Grieving doesn't always end with the funeral: subscribe to our free daily grief support email program, designed to help you a little bit every day, by filling out the form below.

Weekly Email Tips to Support a Grieving Friend

It's hard to know what to say when someone experiences loss. Our free weekly newsletter provides insights, quotes and messages on how to help during the first year.

Helping You Plan

Are you looking to add a personal touch to your loved one's funeral service?  Maybe you want to learn more about planning your own funeral.  We've made all of this information — and more — available for you to explore in the comfort and privacy of your home.

Helping You Grieve

It's not unusual to feel lost and alone after losing a loved one. Our grief support programs can help you through this difficult time. Visit our Online Grief Resource Center here. or call us at 631-269-6421.

Our Services

We understand that it is not always possible to pay respects in person, & hope that this small token will help. You can search for your loved one using the form below.

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Book of Memories

The pinnacle of memorialization, any family member or friends can take advantage of this free services by creating an account and a book to memorialize their loved one.

Pre-Arrangement

Dying is one of the few events in life that's certain to occur, yet one we rarely plan for. Should we spend more time preparing for a two week vacation than we do our last days on Earth?

Proudly Serving the Communities of Kings Park, Commack, Fort Salonga, Northport, Smithtown, Huntington, St. James, Suffolk County, 11754, 11768, 11725, and 11787
631-269-6421 Clayton Funeral Home
25 Meadow Road
Kings Park, NY 11754
Email: claytonfhkp@gmail.com
631-269-6421 Clayton Funeral Home
25 Meadow Road
Kings Park, NY 11754
Email: claytonfhkp@gmail.com
631-269-6421 Clayton Funeral Home
25 Meadow Road
Kings Park, NY 11754
Email: claytonfhkp@gmail.com
631-269-6421 Clayton Funeral Home
25 Meadow Road
Kings Park, NY 11754
Email: claytonfhkp@gmail.com
631-269-6421 Clayton Funeral Home
25 Meadow Road
Kings Park, NY 11754
Email: claytonfhkp@gmail.com