An obituary is the traditional way of notifying the public about an individual’s passing. When the individual is a loved one, an obituary can be a respectful and loving way of celebrating the person’s life. However, writing an obituary for a family member, such as a sister, can be a daunting task. It takes special consideration and skill to encapsulate your sister’s life in a piece of writing. A well-written obituary can be a respectful farewell to the deceased person and the beginning of the healing process for family and friends.
Organize the Facts
Confirm the dates and locations of your sister's birth and death. While this is basic information, it is also very important and should be correctly printed.
Write down the names of surviving family members. These names may include parents, spouse, children, siblings and grandparents. Other surviving family members such as aunts, uncles and cousins may not be listed by name, depending upon available space.
Include the date, time, and location of services, including the funeral, burial, wake, and memorial.
Add Personal Touches
Consider what was most important to your sister. This section of the obituary varies depending upon the life of the deceased. Make a list of the most important parts of your sister’s life. This may include her education, work, hobbies, religion, talents and achievements.
Narrow down the list to two or three aspects of your sister’s life. Decide which parts most accurately illustrate the life your sister led.
Write several sentences describing these components of your sister’s life. Remember that although you knew your sister very well, the obituary will be read by those who did not know her personally or at all.
Write the Obituary
Organize the obituary into chronological order. An obituary usually begins with the full name, age, and date of the deceased, continues with personal touches and surviving family members, and concludes with service information.
Ask another family member or close friend to read the obituary and offer feedback. The second reader should double-check dates, times and locations along with making sure the obituary accurately represents the life your sister led.
Submit the obituary to the place of publication. An obituary usually appears in local newspapers no more than several days following the death.
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Christine Maddox Martorana has been writing professionally since 2003. Martorana has been teaching college-level composition and journalism classes since 2007. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English at Florida State University.