The task of writing an obituary is never easy. However, writing an obituary for an infant can be especially painful.
While there are a lot of online guides giving advice on how to write an obituary, most of these are written for families who lost an aged family member. There aren’t as many guides for those tasked with writing an obituary for an infant, toddler, or child.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Should You Include in an Obituary for an Infant?
- Steps for Writing an Obituary for an Infant
- Example Obituaries for an Infant
- Where Can You Post or Submit an Obituary for an Infant?
Here are some thoughts about writing this unique type of obituary. We are sorry if you find yourself in need of these instructions.
What Should You Include in an Obituary for an Infant?
If you have never been tasked with writing an obituary, you might find it beneficial to look for free online templates to help you through the process. Unfortunately, however, few online templates are available for writing the obituary for an infant.
Here are the items you might consider adding to an infant’s obituary. Of course, some of these items would only be appropriate when writing the obituary of a child who lived several weeks or months instead of minutes or hours.
Please keep in mind that obituaries aren’t legal documents. They aren’t required by law, and there are no requirements about what details need to be included. It is up to the personal preferences of the parents of the child.
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Of course, include the full name of your child in their obituary.
Names of survivors
Also, include the names of the parents, siblings, and grandparents of the child. You might also consider adding the names of extended family members, such as aunts, uncles, and cousins, to the list.
While modern audiences may struggle to view an obituary as a historical document, future generations may look back on this article to understand the familial relationships of your generation. Because of this, be as precise as you can when listing the names. For example, avoid using nicknames on your list of survivors. You may also consider adding the maiden names of the mother and grandmothers.
“Preceded in death by”
Speaking of names, it is common for families to include the names of individuals from the family who already passed within the text of the obituary. Again, these details may have historical significance for future generations. It’s also a way to honor and remember those who have already passed.
Consider including the birth and death dates of the child. If the child died in utero, you might include the phrase “born still” or “born silent.”
Some writers choose to record the age of the deceased.
Place of death
Obituaries written for older people often include the place of death. Consider adding this detail if relevant.
Location of the family residence
Typically, people include the county, town, or city where the family resides. However, do not include the specific address where the family lives.
Cause of death
Some families choose to include the cause of death in an obituary. It is up to the child’s parents whether or not to have this detail in the obituary.
Personal attributes of the child
If the infant died in the days, weeks, or months following their birth, you might consider including a comment about the child’s personality. For example, you might write about their “bubbly personality” or their “sweet smile.”
You may also wish to include details of how others responded to the child, such as the child “touched the lives” of those around them.
Consider mentioning a favorite toy, song, or comfort item of the child.
If the child was born still, you might include details about how their birth was “highly anticipated.” Or that their life was a “brief gift” for the family.
If the service is open to the public, include the details of the event. For example, include the day, date, time, location, and any special instructions about attending.
Your extended family and friends will want to do something to honor the life too soon gone. Consider selecting a favorite charity or non-profit group for people to donate to in honor of your child. Give instructions on how a person can complete the donation.
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Messages of appreciation
As you faced the loss of your child, was there a person, a group, or an organization that comforted you and your child? Consider sending a message of appreciation or thanks to those who helped. Perhaps you wish to extend thanks to the medical staff who cared for your child or the hospice organization that was with you during the moment of death.
You may have a difficult time finding the right words to describe your grief. If that describes your situation, you may consider adding the text of a poem about the loss of a child to the obituary. However, poetry is most commonly used in funeral programs and eulogies instead of obituaries.
Consider adding a famous quote or Bible verse about loss, grief, or the hope that comes from eternal life.
Steps for Writing an Obituary for an Infant
Writing the obituary for an infant may be one of the hardest things you have ever had to write. Give yourself time for this task. Sleep on it before submitting the final draft. Have others proof the document.
If you find this task too difficult to complete yourself, ask someone else a bit further from the situation to complete it for you. If you are using a full-service funeral home, ask a staff member to help you with the process.
Here are the steps we recommend when writing an obituary yourself.
1. Decide where to publish the obituary
If you have not made end-of-life plans before, you may not know how to submit an obituary for publication. If you choose to publish the obituary in your local newspaper, it’s worth noting that there will be a per-word fee. A typical obituary may cost hundreds of dollars to publish.
Some families choose to have a brief obituary or death notice printed in the paper and a more extended version for online memorial websites. We will give you additional ideas on online tribute websites at the end of this article.
2. Look at examples
We know that your situation and your child are unique. However, it might help you write the obituary for your own child after looking at samples written by others in a similar situation. Search online for real-life examples.
3. Gather the details
Traumatic events and grief may cause you to experience brain fog. This means that you may find it challenging to gather all the necessary details for the obituary. Reach out to others for assistance. They want to help.
4. Write a draft of the obituary
Complete a draft of the obituary. Before submitting it for publication, make sure you have several others read the draft. Look for errors in spelling – especially the spelling of names. Use a grammar check program to make sure the text follows the rules of English grammar.
Sleep on it before submitting the final draft. After thinking about it for several hours, you might realize that you left a person off the “preceded in death list” or decide to use a different charity to honor the life of your child.
5. Submit the draft to the funeral home or cremation provider
Most newspapers only allow obituaries to be submitted by a funeral home. Also, many funeral homes publish the obituaries for those they serve on their websites. Typically, these can be easily shared on social media accounts.
Example Obituaries for an Infant
To help you with general phrasing, we have created example snippets of obituaries for infants.
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Example obituary for an infant lost shortly after birth
Sally Smith passed away peacefully in her mother’s arms on June 5, 2015. She was born earlier that day. Her family cherishes her memory as the brief gift it was.
Example obituary for a stillborn baby
Sally Jane Smith was born silent on June 5, 2015. Sally was the treasured daughter of Michael and Jane (Russell) Smith. Others mourning her loss include her siblings, Sara, Samuel, and Simon.
Example obituary for a baby who died of an illness
Sally Jane Smith, aged 22 days, died in her parents’ arms at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ, on September 6, 2015. Sally struggled with an inoperable congenital heart disease.
Example obituary for a baby who died in an accident
Precious angel Sally Jane Smith went to be with the Lord on September 8, 2021, as the result of an accident. Sally was nine months old.
Where Can You Post or Submit an Obituary for an Infant?
You can post the obituary for an infant in the same place where you would post the obituary of an adult. Here are some ideas on places to share the news of your beloved child’s death.
As we mentioned earlier, most newspapers charge a per-word fee to print obituaries. In addition, there is often an extra fee if you wish to include a photo of the child.
Most newspapers require that the obituary be submitted through a funeral home.
Many newspapers also have online versions, and so your child’s obituary may be published in both the print and online versions of the publication.
Online memorial website
Several memorial websites allow you to create a remembrance page for the deceased. These pages can be shared on social media, and visitors to the page are encouraged to share memories, photos, and messages of comfort for all to see.
Funeral home or cremation provider websites
Talk with the funeral home staff serving your family about online obituary requirements. Some staff will assist you with writing the obituary, while others will publish the text you provide. Some charge an additional fee to have the obituary published on their website, but other companies will include the publication as part of their fees.
We Know How Hard It Is to Find the Right Words
Writing the obituary for an infant is hard, no matter the situation. But, please understand that you are not alone. Reach out to organizations such as One Bright Star or The Tears Foundation as you face this loss.