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How to write an obituary

Posted 8/5/21

Writing on obituary can be a daunting task, particularly if it is done while you are in mourning.  Where do you start?  What is important to say?  Are there any legal …

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How to write an obituary


Writing on obituary can be a daunting task, particularly if it is done while you are in mourning.  Where do you start?  What is important to say?  Are there any legal requirements?

Arizona does not require that an obituary be published.  Most obituaries are run to inform friends and family, either close or distant, to the passing of an individual.  It is a way to celebrate a life and it leaves a record, which is often used in tracing family histories and historical information.

Obituaries should include key details about the person’s life and death. First, you’ll want to include the person’s name, birthplace, age, date of death, location and cause of death (optional). From there, you can include other biographical staples such as “whether they got married, had kids, [details of] their careers and retirement.” You’ll also want to share the names and relationships of who survives the deceased, and finally, include the details of the memorial service, where to send flowers or donations and any other must-know information for mourners. The recitation of these details can feel a bit cold and clinical, but it’s important to have the basics down.

Professional obituary writers (yes there are such people) suggest that the next step is to consider the following:

  • The first words that come to your mind when you think of him/her
  • How would you describe your loved one’s personality? What did people say most often about him/her?
  • What are some of your favorite memories of your loved one?
  • What were your loved one’s proudest accomplishments?
  • What were your loved one’s hobbies/favorite things?
  • What was the thing you loved most about your loved one?
  • Any foibles/quirks or other personality traits that made your loved one extra special?
  • Maybe the most important thing to include in your list is how that person would like to be remembered.

Once you have gathered this information, start writing.  It may take several attempts. You may want to work with another family member or two in this part of the process. Once you are happy with what you’ve written, you’re ready to publish. You can handle that several ways. You can go to our website, yourvalley.net/obituaries and use the self-service option. You can write to azobits@iniusa.org, or you can call our office at 623-972-6101 and ask for the obituary desk.