How to Write an Obituary October 28, 2020


What is an Obituary?

An obituary acts as a notice of death to friends and family of the deceased. At its core, writing an obituary is an act of love and a declaration of loss, acknowledgment of grief, and an expression of joy all in one. It celebrates the life of a loved one in a very public way and serves as a historic document that’ll live on forever.

Historically, the announcement of death would happen via newspaper, where a family member would pay a newspaper several hundred dollars to publish an obituary where it would be found in the obituary section.

However, at Bateman-Allen Funeral Home, you can write and publish online an obituary for free! Just contact us below!


How to Find an Obituary

If you’re trying to find an obituary, even if it’s one written over 20 years ago, there are multiple ways you can go about it. First, you can search the local newspapers’ websites. However, sometimes they only keep obituaries for six months or less so this may only work for recent deaths. If you’re unsure of the newspaper of the decease’s hometown, check obituaries.com that provides direct links to the obituary page of hundreds of newspapers.

Ancestory.com is another searchable database of dozens of different documents from obituaries to census records to ship manifests. Tributes.com offers a free obituary search with as little as just the last name! It provides information from the Social Security Administration including birth date, death date, and city of residence upon death. Legacy.com is another option including more than 200 million obituaries from more than 900 newspapers from all over the world.

Finally, a simple internet search can do the trick! If you have the full name of the person, type in “[Full Name] obituary” into the search engine to find your results!

How to Make an Obituary

You can write and publish an obituary DIY-style by using the below template and sending it to a local newspaper. However, it might be helpful to get help from a funeral director when writing an obituary. Funeral directors are trained to help express what’s at times hard to say, especially while grieving.

Remember, the best obituaries aren’t ones that are the most expensive to publish in a newspaper, rather well-written obituaries and from the heart are ones that stand out and stay with people forever.

How much does an obituary cost?

On average, an obituary can run anywhere from $0 to as much as $800 depending on the features that will be placed in the ad.

A smaller hometown newspaper may place the ad for free as a common courtesy.  If the smaller newspaper does charge a fee, it will most likely be less than $50.

Larger, metropolitan newspapers can charge anywhere from $200 to $800 or more.  Some newspapers may also charge per inch.  For example, The Seattle Times charges $88 to $100 per inch.  Major town newspapers such as San Francisco and New York City are going to charge a lot more than a metropolitan newspaper in Iowa.

How to Start an Obituary

To get started writing an obituary, you can contact your local, family-owned funeral home for guidance. If you want to DIY the obituary, though, you can start with a template. You can scroll to the bottom of this post to see the entire template.

Just like a journalist, you want to express the most important information first in an obituary. So something like the below template would be appropriate:

[First Name, “Nick Name,” Middle Name, Last Name, (nee [Maiden name]], [age], passed away [Month, Day, Year] [Where?].

This could look like:

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Mae Gladen (nee Stone), 82, passed away on October 6, 2020, peacefully at her home.

From there, you can discuss where she lived, where she went to high school, where she worked, and what she loved doing.

What to Include in an Obituary

An obituary typically includes at least one photo, the loved one’s date and cause of death, a brief biography, funeral event details, surviving and predeceased family members, and special messages including instructions for charitable donations and gifts.

Obituaries can be used to portray the arch of a loved one’s life — from birth, through life, and arriving at death — and provide a symbolic map of the person’s story. You can include hobbies they loved, a look into the bests of their personality, what football team they wanted to win the Superbowl, who they wanted to vote for in the upcoming election, and anything else you can think of to personalize the writing.

How to List Survivors in an Obituary Example

Sometimes it’s a little tricky know who comes first when writing a list of survivors for an obituary. Let us give you an example to make it easier:

“She was predeceased by her parents George and Glenda Stone.

“Lizzie is survived by her devoted husband of 39 years Chris Gladen; her loving children Lauren Globe (Nicholas) and Chris Gladen; her siblings Ryan Stone, Steve Stone, Glen Stone, Joan Bullitt (Liam), Janet Samuel (Tobias); her cousin Leanne McKeown (Ed); and her beloved grandkids Patrick Globe, Janet Globe, Dennis Gladen, Timothy Gladen, Juliana Gladen, and Audrey Gladen.”

Obituaries usually start with those that the person was predeceased by. Then they move on to the spouse, followed by the children and siblings. It’s customary to include a woman’s husband’s first name in parenthesis if they decided to change their last name. So “Lauren Globe” in the example above used to be “Lauren Gladen;” however, she married “Nicholas Globe” and had her name changed. From there, you can list the grandchildren.

How to Write an Obituary for a Mother

An obituary for a  mother is always difficult to write. How can you condense the love of a mother into just a few words? Here is an example of a beautiful obituary written by one of our families for Lauren Fabre.

“Lauren Elizabeth Fabre (nee Wood), 63, passed away October 6, 2020, at her home. Born and raised in Media, she was a long time resident of Upper Darby. She was a graduate of Penncrest High School, class of 1975, and was self-employed with her husband in the Pewter giftware business. Lauren loved to ride her Harley, fishing, gardening, photography, pottery, and cooking. Above all else, she loved being surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She was predeceased by her parents George and Peg Wood.

“She is survived by her devoted husband of 39 years Chris Fabre; her loving children Erin Oertel (Warren) and Chris Fabre; her siblings George Wood, Steve Wood, Robin Wood, Jan Catano (Vic), Shiela Cavalien (Richard); her cousin Stacey Hanlin (Ed); and her beloved grandkids Warren Oertel, Ryan Fabre, Nazje Kubach, Samantha Oertel, Juliana Oertel, and Aubrey Oertel.

“Funeral service Saturday 12 noon at the Bateman-Allen Funeral Home, 4220 Edgmont Ave., Brookhaven, PA, 19015. Visitation Saturday 10 am-12noon at the funeral home. Burial private. Online condolences can be sent via www.batemanfuneralhome.com.”

How to Write an Obituary for a Father

Many times, obituaries for a father are full of personality and what he loved doing. Here’s a great example of an obituary written by one of our families for Kevin M. Emhe.

”Kevin M. Emhe, 63, passed away October 4, 2020, at Crozer Chester Medical Center. He was a lifelong Delaware County resident, growing up in Highland Gardens and most recently residing in Crum Lynne. Kevin was a graduate of Chester High School, class of 1977. He was creative and dabbled in art.  Kevin was an avid Philadelphia sports van.  He was looking forward to an Eagles win and casting his vote for Biden. He was predeceased by his father George Emhe and his siblings Stephen and Jennifer.

“Kevin is survived by his mother Jacqueline Emhe; his siblings Shawn Emhe and Laurie Emhe; coming from a large family he has several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

“All services will be held privately. In lieu of flowers or donations, Kevin would have wanted everyone to enjoy a beer while cheering the Eagles on.

“Arrangements handled by the Bateman-Allen Funeral Home, Brookhaven, PA. Online condolences can be sent via www.batemanfuneralhome.com.”

How to Write Your Own Obituary

Because there’s been an increase in pre-planning funeral services for oneself, it’s become a trend to write your own obituary as well! Writing your own obituary can be a cathartic experience for some people who know their time on earth isn’t going to last much longer. It’s a beautiful way to give a final manifesto focused on the values you lived your life by and who made it the best it could be.

So focus on the people who poured love and value into your every day. Talk about the people who changed you, who made you the person you are today. Make it personal, give your thanks, and present your wishes for the future.

How to Make an Obituary in Google Docs

Sometimes it’s tricky to write an obituary if multiple siblings are wanting to contribute. One easy way of writing an obituary for a loved one with multiple contributors is to use Google Docs. It’s simple! Just follow these steps.

  1. First, go to docs.google.com
  2. Under “Start a new document” click the Blank option and a document should open.
  3. Name the document in the top left corner.
  4. On the top right-hand corner, click share.
  5. In the box that says “Add people and groups” type in the emails of all the contributors with commas in between to separate email addresses.
  6. Make sure the addresses are set to “Editor” and that “Notify people” is checked.
  7. You can write them a message to talk about how you’d like everyone to use Google Docs to collaborate.
  8. Then click send!

How to write an obituary template

Finally, here’s our most popular obituary template that many of our families use. Feel free to riff off of this a bit to make it personal to your family!


“HE/SHE” was born “PLACE”, “DATE OF BIRTH”. “NAME” graduated from “SCHOOL” and received “DEGREE” from “SCHOOL”. “HE/SHE” was married to “SPOUSE’S NAME” ( wedding date is optional).

INCLUDE OPTIONAL BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION HERE: Employment history, accomplishments, organizations, activities, etc.

“HE/SHE” was predeceased by “NAME AND RELATION” (This is usually the parent[s].) “HE/SHE” is survived by “SIBLINGS”, “CHILDREN”, “GRANDCHILDREN”, ETC. (Try to separate each name with a comma or semicolon).

Funeral arrangements will be held “TIME”, “DATE” and “PLACE”.


If you’d like more help with writing your loved one’s obituary, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Bateman-Allen Funeral Home.