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Common Mistakes to Avoid when Writing an Obituary

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Writing an Obituary

Now that you’re familiar with writing an Obituary, let’s take a look at some common mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Avoid Making the Obituary About You

It’s easy to fall into the trap of writing the obituary directly from your perspective, or from the perspective of the bereaved. It’s important to remember that the obituary should be about the deceased, and showcase them at all times. For example, you don’t want to begin the obituary with a line like, “It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing…” You’ll want to start immediately with the name of the person who has passed.

Don’t Focus Just on Death

It’s easy to write an entire obituary that jumps straight from the date and place of birth to the date and place of death, and misses everything in between. An obituary is not just an announcement of someone’s death, it is also a celebration of their life. Be sure to include information about what made the deceased’s life so amazing.

Listing People Who Were Appreciated

If you want to include a word of thanks to people who helped make your loved one’s passing a little easier, try to mention people who helped during their life as well. This helps bring some of the focus away from death and captures a more complete appreciation of the life lived. Generally, thanking people can be tricky. Someone may be overlooked and feel slighted.  It might be best to forego the thanks in the obituary, and instead send out individualized cards of appreciation.

Avoid Clichés

Some clichés that are often included in obituaries are, “After a long/courageous battle…” or “Only saw the best in people…” or “Will be missed…” Try to express your thoughts creatively to convey your message.  This will help others understand how unique the life of your loved one was.


The temptation to use abbreviations as much as possible can be great, especially if you’re on a tight budget, but we advise against it. Your goal is to create an obituary that is easily understood.  Abbreviations may confuse people if they’re not familiar with them.

Don’t Over Describe the Funeral.

Giving the basic information for the funeral or services is one of the main purposes of the obituary, since it allows those who knew the deceased to say their farewells, but the funeral itself is not the point of the obituary. Give a date, time, place, and officiating person (if desired), but don’t go into too much more detail than that because it runs the risk of distracting from the life of the deceased themselves.

These pitfalls to watch out for, combined with the ten-step guide to writing an obituary, should ensure that you are able to create the perfect piece to honor the life of your loved one. Just remember, ultimately an obituary is a way to show your appreciation for a great life lived, and to let others know how they can say their farewells. Stick to these two guiding principles, and you can’t go wrong.

Obituary Template

Sample Obituary

10 Easy Steps for Writing an Obituary