How to Write an Obituary

The death care industry is slow to change. But the world of consumer desires is quickly changing around them, so change they must and change they will. The DIY mindset is second nature to people who tackle their own creative projects using Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and more. When DIY meets the Very Traditional Funeral Industry, there’s likely to be a culture clash. At least on the obituary, Epilogg has your back with a free platform that lets you tell unlimited stories. Let’s keep what serves us from tradition, throw out the rest, and create something beautiful. Together.

If you search “how to write an obituary,” you’ll encounter oceans of articles about how you’ll need a few key dates, a listing of schools and jobs, and a listing of family members. The way it’s always been done. At Epilogg we ask, but where’s the LIFE? Where’s the joy, the heartbreak, the quirks, the legends, the jokes, the drama?

So here’s some things to keep in mind if you’re the one that has the honor of writing an obituary:

  1. Ok we do need the dates and names and service info. Get those. How about we ease into that first paragraph with the key facts?
  2. Next, start at the beginning. Give us an idea about who they were as a child. Some prompts for this:
    1. As a child, Pete loved…..
    2. Paula’s favorite family vacations were…
    3. Dad’s beloved dog was….
    4. Some memorable family traits were…
    5. We wish we could’ve seen…
  3. A school section is great, but add some color about what they studied, whether they stuck with that, how they felt about their schools, sports teams etc. Any legendary college pranks or road trips? Let’s hear it! If there’s nothing to tell about schools, just skip it. This is YOUR original piece, don’t worry about templates and what you see in the newspapers and on funeral websites. 
  4. And now the life stuff. Just think, what are the things that will make people smile? Nod in recognition? Spit out their drink with laughter? Of course not every life is hilarious, and death feels pretty tragic. But an obituary can be the place you come back to again and again, and the stories of life really do make the best obituaries.
    1. What did family mean to them?
    2. What was the greatest adventure?
    3. What were their passions, big and small?
    4. Tell the love story/stories!
    5. What were their values and how did they pass those on to those around them?
    6. Favorite foods and drinks? Games? Movies? Halloween costumes?
  5. Conclusion. Is there a quote that was special to them? Do you want to share some advice that your person gave you? Anything you’ll do in memory of your person?

Just remember: an obituary can be long, short, funny, serious, whatever you want. Don’t be constrained by the obituaries you see online or in the paper. Bring life to it in whatever way makes sense to you. 

Write all that you want, then if you want to publish it in a newspaper you can take little bits of it out to put in the paper. Then post the full tale on an online obituary site (there are many out there! Of course we’re partial to Epilogg.)

If you can share photos, that’s even better (at Epilogg, you can upload as many photos as you want — for free!). How about a recipe or two?

The DIY approach to the end of life is growing, and Epilogg is so proud to be a part of it. We keep our eyes on other game changing companies too (try Welkin Memorials for urns that actually truly look gorgeous, try Songfinch for a super unique way to commemorate your person, try Beyond Words for an artisanal way to support people, try TGBeyond or Lighten for unique virtual services. And there’s So.Much.More out there!).

Below are some Epiloggs to inspire you when writing an obituary, and you can always reach out to us at [email protected] for assistance!

Meet Alfeo:

Meet JJ:

Meet Larry:

Meet Deb:–flint-mi-usa-4661