7 Things to Remember When Writing an Obituary

Tips to remember when writing an obituary

Grief and forgetfulness go hand in hand. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you put your keys in the fridge or can’t remember why you walked into a room in the days after losing a loved one — it’s natural. It’s also natural to forget certain elements when writing an obituary. Use this guide as a reminder when creating a Life Story on theMemories.com, so you truly tell their whole story.

List dates of minor milestones

Reliving happy moments like a wedding anniversary or retirement travels as you write an obituary can be extremely cathartic. It’s usually easy to remember the dates of major milestones like these. But what about some of the other memorable moments in your loved one’s life? The purchase of a dream car. Bowling a perfect game. Moving across the country. Receiving a prestigious award. It’s not always as easy to remember the dates of these life-shaping events. Looking at social media accounts of your lost loved one, as well as those belonging to friends and family, can often help you fill in the gaps. You may also find inspiration in journals. And don’t worry about trying to put everything in chronological order. Use the timeline feature when creating a Life Story on theMemories.com to automate the process.

Gather photos

People are often so focused on finding the right words that they forget about using photos to complement the narrative. Unlike the newspaper obituary format which limits you to one or two photos, you can include as many pictures as you want with your Life Story on theMemories.com. And it’s perfectly fine to include candid shots from social media or formal photos that were professionally taken. You may also choose to allow friends and family members to add photos to the interactive timeline.

Include a nickname

Many people think that obituaries can only include the full name and omit a common nickname. Be sure to include any popular monikers you’re loved one was known by, past or present. Even if he hasn’t been called “Sarge” since he served in the army or “James” only started going by “Jimmy” when he played cards at the senior center, there are people out there who will remember the nickname but not the given name. Including different monikers your loved one has gone by over the years makes it easier for others to find the obituary.

Thank caregivers

Publicly thanking those who went out of their way to make your loved one’s life more enjoyable — whether it was a medical professional, a next-door neighbor or a special friend  — can bring solace in times of sadness. Be sure to talk to others when making a list of people to thank.

Provide a link to a charity or memorial fund

Funeral flowers are both symbolic and sympathetic. But there may be a different way to honor your loved one and make a positive impact on the community they were a part of at the same time. Think about what your loved one was passionate about and discuss donation options with other family members. Contributions to a scholarship fund, medical research, animal rights group or another cause-based charity are frequently requested in lieu of flowers. Including a link to the organization’s donation page in the Life Story makes it easy for others to contribute, ensures the money goes to the right place and eliminates the need for you to keep track of donation envelopes at the service.

Take precautions to prevent theft

Unfortunately, there are scammers who read obituaries in an attempt to steal your lost loved one’s identity or burglarize an empty residence. Don’t forget to notify credit agencies immediately to prevent post-mortem fraud. Make sure addresses aren’t listed in the text and house numbers aren’t visible in the gallery photos you upload and ask someone you trust who isn’t attending the memorial service to keep an eye on family homes during that time.


There is no right or wrong way to write an obituary for your loved one. A Life Story allows you to use as many words as you want to tell their whole story. Still, it’s important to make sure the words you use are spelled correctly and the anecdotes are accurate. It’s easy to inadvertently misspell a survivor’s name or mix up an important date. Share a private link to your Life Story with a few close relatives or friends to proofread the online tribute. The Life Story remains private until you make changes and publish it. If anyone notices an error or recalls something after publication, you can go back and edit or add to the Life Story at any time.

Keep these things in mind as you create an online tribute on theMemories.com that honors the life of your lost loved one.


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