Writing an obituary for a Christian is similar to writing one for a non-Christian. If you look up guides on how to write an obituary, you will be advised to include the deceased’s biographical information. That information would consist of the deceased’s full name, where they were born, and their place of residence when they died. Most include the names of the surviving parents, spouse, children, and siblings.
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One difference between a Christian obituary and one written for a non-Christian is that there may be a mention of the afterlife in one written for a Christian.
Let us help you with the writing process by giving you some suggested steps for writing an obituary. We’ll also give you Christian obituary examples if you are writing an obituary for a Christian loved one.
For more help with post-loss tasks and challenges, check out our post-loss checklist.
Steps for Writing an Obituary for a Christian
Have you been tasked with writing the obituary for a loved one? Since this may be one of the last pieces written about your loved one’s life, take special care to include all the relevant details.
Here is a step-by-step guide for writing this all-important text that you may have published in the newspaper or on the funeral home website.
For more information on how to write an obituary, use our free template, which will guide you on how to write an obituary based on specific scenarios.
1. Gather the facts
Although there are exceptions, most obituaries read like news articles. That’s why the first step in the process is to gather the facts. You’ll need lots of them to write an obituary for a Christian.
Here’s some of the information you may want to include:
- Full name: To reduce the chance of the obituary leading to a case of mistaken identity, include the full name of the deceased. Also, include the maiden name or nickname if applicable.
- Age at the time of death
- Where the deceased was living at the time of death (city and state)
- Day of the week and date of death (month, day, and year)
- Place and cause of death (not all families choose to include this information in the obituary)
- Birthdate (month, day, and year) and place of birth (city and/or state)
- Parents’ names
- Education — high school, college, and/or other, if applicable
- Achievements, awards, and other forms of recognition
- Employment history
- Military service
Keep in mind that you’re writing an obituary and not a resume. There’s no need to write every job your loved one ever had, but you may want to make a brief mention of your loved one’s career or types of jobs held.
Step 2: Create a list of survivors
Most obituaries include a list of the deceased’s survivors, which you can use to further identify the person who died. There are no rules for which people to include in the list. Here are some examples of relationships you may consider writing into the obituary:
- Spouse, partner, or significant other
- Children in order of date of birth and their spouses.
- Grandchildren (by first name or number)
- Great-grandchildren (by first name or number)
- Great-great-grandchildren (by first name or number)
- Others, such as nephews, nieces, cousins, in-laws
Double-check the spelling of the names and include everyone you don’t cause hard feelings.
Step 3: Include other interesting facts or important information
Is there other information regarding your loved one that would be interesting to share with others? Perhaps the deceased had an interesting hobby or achievement, had an impressive collection, or checked off a lot of bucket list items.
Keep in mind that most newspapers charge per word to print an obituary. This may limit the inclusion of extra facts or an extended list of relatives.
Step 4: Give details of the service
One of the essential pieces of information you need to include in an obituary is the time, day, date, and place of the services. If the services are private events, state “a private service will be held at a later date” or a similar message.
You may want to include specific information regarding the service. For example, the family may ask that a donation be made in lieu of flowers.
Some families also request that the funeral attendees wear a particular color or type of clothing in honor of the deceased.
Step 5: Include phrasing within the text to emphasize that the deceased was Christian
Since this is a guide for writing an obituary for a Christian, we assume that you want others to know that your loved one was a follower of Christ. You can do this by peppering the text with phrases such as “went to his eternal home” or “went to live with Jesus.” Look for other examples at the end of this article.
These details can be used at different points throughout the obituary.
Step 6: Fact check the details
You only have one chance to write your loved one’s obituary. Ensure that all of the details included are accurate, especially the spelling of survivors’ names.
Step 7: Ask a family member to proofread your work
You don’t want your loved one’s obituary to be published without having someone check it for grammar and spelling. At a minimum, use the grammar and spell check on your word processing program. Ask someone who earned an “A” in high school English to go through your writing with a fine-toothed comb.
There’s no such thing as good writing; there’s only good “rewriting.” Try not to be offended if someone offers writing suggestions to improve the flow of the piece.
Example Obituaries for a Christian
Your loved one’s religious beliefs can be stated in a variety of ways in the obituary. One of the most common ways to share the faith of your loved one is in the opening lines. Here are some snippets from obituaries that you can use for inspiration.
Example for a parent or grandparent
Mike Smith, 87, went to his heavenly home on Monday, November 23, 2020. He was a beloved father and grandfather, a respected businessman, and a Christian.
Patricia was a faithful woman who loved the Lord, her family, church, and community.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated for Paul on Monday, November 23, 2020.
Example for a child
Mikey Smith went to live with the angels soon after his birth on Monday, November 23, 2020. He was the son of Randall and Susan Smith.
Mikey was greeted in heaven by his paternal grandfather, Richard Smith.
Susie Smith passed from this life into eternal life on Monday, November 23, 2020.
Example for a partner or spouse
Husband, father, and grandfather Mark Smith entered fully into the presence of the Lord on Monday, November 23, 2020. He was 75.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Somerset, Illinois.
Mark’s Christian faith was an essential part of his life. He spent a great deal of time mentoring young Christians and participated in the baptism of dozens of individuals.
Example for someone who died suddenly
Sharon Rich, 78, died suddenly in an automobile accident on Monday, November 23, 2020. While she will be missed by many, we are thankful that she is again in the arms of her beloved husband, who died in 2016.
Andrew Smith went to be with the Lord suddenly on the morning of Monday, November 23, 2020. He died of a heart attack.
Bertha will be missed by the other faithful church volunteers who met each week to fold the bulletins and serve funeral meals whenever needed. Church potlucks won’t be the same without Bertha’s famous sweet potato casserole.
Consider Writing Your Own Obituary
Since you know that death is inevitable, you may want to write your own obituary. This way, you can include the details that you think are the most important about your life. You can also share anything you want about your Christian beliefs that you want others to know.
Check out our other articles about Christian funerals or “30+ Ideas for Christian Condolence Notes & Quotes” for more information.