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What to include and not include in an Obituary

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An Obituary should at least include the following:

  • Biographical Information
    • Your name as you want it to appear
    • Location of birth. 
    • Space for date of death and age
    • Schools attended
    • City or township of residence
    • Military service
    • Occupation
    • Organization memberships, including professional, charitable and religious.
    • Hobbies
    • Honors or other distinctions
    • Special achievements
    • Choice of photograph
    • Any additional information that you want people to know about you
  • Family
    • Name of spouse or significant other. (Possibly also include names of ex-spouses).
    • Names of living children and of children who predeceased you
    • Brother and sisters, including those who predeceased you.
    • Consider including other family members such as grandparents or grandchildren.
    • Family members who are predeceased.
  • Education
    • Schools
    • Degrees
    • Year Graduated
  • Service
    • Leave space for time, location and type of service, including details of pre-burial activities such as a wake - if any.
    • If services are private, say so. 
  • Donations, Flowers or Gifts
    • The obituary should state your preference. If a donation is preferred, list the name of the organization(s) and contact information needed to make a donation. 
  • An interesting headline. 
    • The more interesting and distinctive the headline, the more likely the local newspaper will run the obituary. For example, instead of "Iraq veteran," a title more likely to attract attention would be something like "Iraq Veteran Medal Winner." "Raised 13 Children" is more interesting than "Beloved Parent."
On Obituary should not include
  • Your residence address. Burglars read obituaries looking for information about empty houses. 
  • Your birth date. This helps prevent identity theft. However, if you are going to ask a professional to write an obituary, the date of birth should be provided to the writer to help determine age at date of death and whether certain milestones have been achieved.
NOTE: It is advisable to have someone stay in your residence the day of the funeral "just in case." The more visible his or her presence, the better.

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