How To Write a Death Notice

Bereavement

Posted on March 22, 2016 by Amanda Sarchino

When a loved one passes away one of the harder tasks that you may face is how to write a death notice. 'Death notices' and 'obituaries' are two terms many use interchangeably when confronted with the passing of a loved one. In reality, though, these objects serve not only mean different things, but serve different purposes as well.

What is a Death Notice?

A death notice in its most basic form is an announcement that an individual has passed away. A death notice generally gives basic information about the individual who passed and communicates to the public where they can make a donation and the location of the funeral or memorial service. Death notices are paid announcements that appear in the obituary section of a newspaper.  

What is an Obituary?

An obituary is written in more of a story format and aims to tell the life story of the individual who passed. An obituary mimics a biography and is written by newspaper staff. Obituaries are written with much more detail than death notices and are written from more of an entertainment perspective. As such, there usually is not a charge for an obituary. Obituaries are often written about people with a public notoriety. For example you can see one of First Lady Nancy Reagan's obituaries.

To read more about the differences between obituaries and death notices read this article: Obituaries and Death Notices explained.

A Step- By- Step Guide to Writing a Death Notice

When looking at death notices, there are a few different templates that can be followed depending on the length you are aiming for the death notice to be. Keep in mind that newspapers charge per word or per line. Death notices generally include essential information such as: who died, when they died, mentions of the surviving family, and funeral service details such as where and when the visitation, funeral, and interment will occur. Sometimes they mention a preferred charity to make donations to.

Death Notice Template 1

This death notice template includes the minimum amount of information most people want to include and is the most simplistic form of a death notice:  

  • Name and age of person who died

  • Date of Death

  • Relationship to survivors

  • Spouse and children

  • Where donations can be made

  • Funeral service information

Death Notice Example:

Jane Doe, 50, our loved mother and friend passed away on March 1st, 2016. Jane was happily married to Robert Smith and together they have three children. Memorial donations may be made to The Jane Doe Foundation in Jane’s name. The funeral will be held at XYZ Funeral Home on Tuesday March 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm.

Death Notice Template 2

  • Name of person who died

  • Age at death

  • Cause of death

  • Date and location of death

  • Date of birth and location of birth

  • Parents' names

  • Marital information

  • Professional achievements and accomplishments

  • Funeral service details

  • Charity donation information

Death Notice Example:

Jane Doe, 80, died after a ongoing struggle with cancer on Saturday March 5, 2016 in Philadelphia. She was born in the city of Philadelphia to William and Sophie Syfred where she lived for her whole life. She married George Wilson who is still resides in Philadelphia. Together they have two children, Frank and Tom, who are both in college. Jane worked as an accountant for 30 years where she was beloved by her co-workers. The funeral will be held at XYZ Funeral Home on Monday March 14, 2016 at 5:00 pm. Donations in Jane's name can be made to the American Cancer Society.

The above examples are just a couple templates you can follow, therefore you do not need to follow them exactly. Be sure that you provide accurate information in the death notice and it is within your budget. Since death notices are often charged by word or by line, costs can easily add up. 

Tip: To keep costs down, consider posting a short death notice in the local newspaper or online version with a link to a memorial page with more details and a fuller life story..