When a loved one dies, you want to do everything you can to honor their life. That usually includes writing an obituary that focuses on the highlights of their life, including who they loved, what they enjoyed, where they lived and what they accomplished. It also usually provides information about any memorial services so other mourners can attend. People have posted obituaries in local newspapers for decades, but you’ve never done it before, you may need a few tips on posting an obituary in your local paper.
Decide Which Newspaper
If you have more than one newspaper to choose from, you have to decide which paper (or papers) you want to print the obituary. Options may include a local or regional paper in the area where the person lived at the time of death or the local paper in the town where the person grew up or lived for many years. You could choose a combination of papers to ensure people from your loved one’s past and present see the obituary.
Contact the Newspaper to Ask for Details
After choosing newspapers, you need to know the specifics for submission, such as cost, submission deadline, photo submission rules (if applicable) and how to submit. Some newspapers post this information online, but you may have to call small newspapers to ask these questions. Many newspapers use Legacy.com to accept obituary submissions, and the site provides details on submitting death notices to various papers in each state.
Write the Obituary
Once you know what the newspaper allows, write an obituary that fits the guidelines, including sticking to word limits and including all required information. A typical obituary starts with the announcement that the person has passed away and sometimes — but certainly not always — includes the cause of death. Next, it typically moves into biographical information, such as where the person was born and raised, family, career, hobbies and accomplishments. Follow that with a list of surviving family members, information on services and any special information, such as a charity where mourners can make donations in the person’s name. Some people write their own obituaries well ahead of their dealths, so be sure to check for that.
Proofread the Obituary
Look over the obituary again before submitting it. Keep an eye out for typos or misspellings. Consider asking a few other loved ones to read it to make sure everything is included and correct. Check the word count again, as you don’t want to exceed the word limit and lose part of the obituary when it’s printed.
Submit the Obituary to the Newspaper
No two newspapers are alike when it comes to submitting obituaries, so it’s important to make sure you follow their instructions carefully. Any errors in the submission could delay the publishing of the obituary until after the funeral. In today’s digital world, most newspapers accept submissions via email or online submission forms, although smaller local papers may only accept submissions in person or in print. You typically have to pay at the time of submission as well.
Consider Having the Funeral Home Submit for You
In many cases, you won’t have to deal directly with the newspaper. In fact, some papers won’t print obituaries without confirmation of death from a funeral home, crematorium, coroner or body donation center in order to avoid hoax death notices for someone who is still alive. If the funeral home offers the service, an employee will typically help you write the obituary and then submit it on your behalf. Not only does this satisfy newspaper requirements, but it also eases some of the burden of handling this task at a difficult time.
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