A loved one’s passing brings with it a multitude of tasks, and one of the most challenging may be writing an obituary — especially if you want to go beyond simply informing communities of a death, to celebrating and memorializing a life.
Recently, Lakewood hosted Obituaries 101: Writing with Love, taught by licensed mortician and deathcare provider, Angela Woosley, M.A. The class was part of The Lakewood Experience Series which offers events, workshops, meditations, and other guided experiences to expand understanding and bring new depth and meaning to the subjects of dying, death, and remembrance using personal reflection and creative expression.
Once you’ve gathered basic facts, use these tips to write an obituary that pays tribute to the way your loved one would want to be remembered.
- Informal is Okay
Many people think obituaries require formality or a stiff recitation of dates and facts. But writing in a more casual style can bring the story to life. Instead of, “He worked at the same company his entire career,” you could say, “We admired how he made his colleagues his second family, sharing the joys and challenges of their lives.”
- Tell A Favorite Story
People connect deeply through stories. Think of how often family get-togethers are spent recounting favorite tales, usually so well known the entire group can recite them. Use these beloved stories in obituaries to share the way your loved one lived their life — with humor, or bravery, or selflessness.
- Humor Helps
Humor goes a long way to easing sadness. If the person you are memorializing loved to laugh, try writing their story with playfulness and wit.
- Share their Passion
If your loved one dedicated their life to a cause, like environmentalism, tell the story of how they worked to make the world a better place. Use specific examples to make the story their own. An example might be, “She worked with local farmers to convert land into butterfly habitat.”
- Practice Ahead of Time
This may sound surprising but working with a loved one to write their obituary can lead to deep, meaningful conversations. Your loved one may be surprised and delighted to discover what you value most about them. Reading obituaries can also give you ideas and help you become more comfortable when you face this task in the future.
Additionally, more and more people are penning their own obituaries. Angela shared one that read, “My kids will insert the time and date of the mass, but you can bet there will be green Jell-O at the luncheon afterward.”
Platforms to Share Your Loved One’s Story
When you consider publication options, many people only think of local newspapers, which can be expensive. If your loved one is buried at Lakewood, you may submit their obituary to be included in their memorial record which can be viewed on Lakewood’s Burial Search.
Additionally, sites like Forever Missed or Gathering Us offer options to tell a more in-depth story and to share a variety of photos.
To paint a clear, vivid picture of your loved one — who they were and how they spent their days — add a few personalized sentences to transform the facts of someone’s life into a beautiful, deeply personal tribute.
To learn more about Lakewood’s upcoming events, visit us at www.lakewoodcemetery.org/events-calendar.