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Helpful Tips for Writing an Obituary

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Writing an obituary can feel like its own art form at times. It’s something we’re typically not used to doing, which is why even the thought of writing one can seem challenging at first. When grieving the loss of a loved one, we understand how hard it can be to sit down and write about their passing, especially when dealing with all the other details of the funeral. But it doesn’t have to be viewed that way, and we’re ready to assist by giving you some tips on writing an obituary that honors your loved one’s memory.

At Horan & McConaty, we feel the best obituaries are written by family members rather than a funeral director. When a family member writes about their loved one, they’re able to bring their story to life and describe them in ways a stranger cannot. It’s a beautiful way to honor their memory as friends and family read about their personality and the impacts they made on your life and others. Writing an obituary can also be a step toward personal and familial healing, as writing can be a healthy and calming release.

If you don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a list of five tips to help you craft a meaningful obituary:

  1. Tell their story. Humans connect best through storytelling. You’ll notice obituaries commonly follow certain guidelines, and that’s perfectly okay to do, but if you feel inclined, break free from the mold. Telling an engaging and unique story pays tribute to your loved one and share how they touched the lives of others. Stories are an unforgettable way to honor a loved one – they become the stories told over holiday dinners, passed down through generations, and live in your memories forever.

  2. Highlight their personality, hobbies, and interests. While obituaries include a loved one’s birthdate, date of passing, and other personal information such as marriage, family, and careers, it’s perfectly okay to dive deeper and share the traits that defined them. Try to paint a vivid picture of the time they spent on earth and who they were. Were they passionate about painting? The life of the party? The World’s Most Athletic Grandmother? Share it: everything that defines us as individuals makes for the best memorializations.

  3. Use a non-linear timeline. Obituaries don’t have to stick to a chronological timeline if you wish. You’re free to link stories and memories to certain themes, milestones, or accomplishments to spotlight their character and unique traits.

  4. Invite others to share their memories. You don’t have to carry the weight of writing an obituary on your own. Invite family and close friends to share their stories to include in the piece. Asking others to be a part of the process is a productive way to share favorite memories and bring fresh voices and perspectives to your writing.

  5. Do some research. Take a few minutes to look online or in past copies of newspapers to get a feel for how you want to write the obituary. There are many resources available today with templates, writing prompts, and general support to spark your creativity. Your funeral director is also a wealth of knowledge. At Horan & McConaty, we’ll give you an obituary template to work from or support you in writing with a start-from-scratch method, and we’re always here to provide advice or to proofread for you.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to writing an obituary. There are no set rules you must follow, and you have the freedom to make it as personalized and engaging as you wish. One of the simplest starting points is asking yourself how you want others to know your loved one. Remember, an obituary is tribute to a unique life, and whether you want a simple obituary or a detailed story, let your love for them shine through. Their obituary will let the light of their life last far into the future.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about our funeral services, please give us a call at any of our seven Denver Metro locations at (303) 745-4418. We are available 24/7.

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