When it comes to writing an obituary, there are a lot of misconceptions. An obituary is a type of death notice that usually includes a brief biography of the deceased. Most people mistakenly believe these need to be formal and somber. In reality, obituaries come in all shapes and sizes. Some do evoke waterworks for readers, but others make you laugh out loud.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- 1. Know When to Be Serious
- 2. Write Your Own Obituary
- 3. Recount a Funny Memory
- 4. Talk to Friends and Family
- 5. Talk About the Little Things
- 6. Add Emotion
- 7. Share a Lesson
- 8. Keep the Deceased in Mind
- Examples of Funny Obituaries
If you want to learn how to write an obituary that’s funny and light, you’ve come to the right place. Since most people don’t write obituaries regularly, it’s understandable for this to be intimidating.
A good obituary isn’t about making readers sad. It’s an accurate reflection on the individual and a life well-lived. Whether you’re writing an obituary for yourself or a loved one, creative obituaries shine in a unique way.
These eight tips are to help you write a funny obituary that captures a deceased person’s life and laughter.
1. Know When to Be Serious
The first tip when writing a funny obituary is to know when it’s important to be serious. There are no hard-and-fast rules of modern obituaries, so don’t worry about stepping too far out of the box. However, you still need to be accurate in terms of certain facts. Always be truthful and straightforward when talking about:
- The date, age, and location of death
- Surviving family
- Spelling and grammar
If you’re publishing in a newspaper, there are specific guidelines the publication might have as well. Always be aware of these rules to make sure your obituary needs minor edits.
2. Write Your Own Obituary
While this isn’t possible for family members who already passed away, one of the easiest ways to write a funny obituary is to write your own. It understandably feels unnatural to write your own death announcement, but this is a great creative writing exercise.
Not only does it put into perspective your legacy and life’s accomplishments, but it’s a chance to write a final message to your friends, family, and community. When writing your own obituary, don’t be afraid to use first-person and to really let your personality shine.
3. Recount a Funny Memory
Some of the best obituaries read more like narratives than a factual account. Don’t be afraid to use the obituary as a chance to share a special story, especially one that always rouses some laughter. Humans connect through shared experiences.
You’d be surprised just how much you can learn about a person through how their friends and family remember them. What types of memories are a good choice?
- Your funniest memory of the deceased (funny doesn’t mean embarrassing)
- A time when the deceased saved the day
- A childhood memory
4. Talk to Friends and Family
If you’re not sure the right words to say, ask the deceased’s friends and family. Letting others share their memories and perspective in their own words is a great way to share a unique, often humorous view on someone’s life. Let these questions guide your process:
- What was your favorite thing about the deceased?
- Why were you close to him or her?
- How did the deceased make you laugh?
5. Talk About the Little Things
While our experiences define us, it’s also the little things that make a difference. These small quirks become the foundation of our personality. They seem insignificant in the moment, but they become how we’re remembered.
Show a unique, funny portrait of the deceased with some discussion of these small things that added up to a big personality. These are the things family and friends look back on with warmth.
6. Add Emotion
While it’s tempting to steer clear of sadness or emotion in a time of crisis, this isn’t something you should be afraid of. The most powerful humor is based on emotion. It’s possible to laugh and cry at the same time, and this is often cathartic during the healing process.
How do you add emotion? Make connections with the deceased person’s impact, legacy, and family. Show rather than tell how they’ll be remembered by those they love most. It’s okay if you shed a tear or two!
7. Share a Lesson
Each person leaves lessons behind for their friends and family. Whether it’s a cherished family recipe or an important message about friendship, there’s always something one can learn from a life well-lived.
Finding the humor in these lessons is a powerful way to share the impact of someone’s legacy. What lessons has the deceased taught during their time on earth? Don’t be afraid to get creative and silly, especially if that’s what they would have wanted.
8. Keep the Deceased in Mind
Last but not least, consider what the deceased would have wanted. Whether they were a “less is more” person or someone who would have relished the spotlight being on them, keep this in mind when writing their obituary. While it’s proper obituary etiquette to write this for the surviving family, it’s also a testament to the life of the deceased.
In modern times, obituaries are a permanent reminder of the individual. These newspaper posts or social media shares live on for years to come. Make sure this obituary is something you and the family are proud of. Last but not least, ask yourself what they’d think of the obituary.
Examples of Funny Obituaries
To help put these tips into reality, let’s look at some examples. While each person leads a different life, evoking a bit of humor with the obituary is truly a gift for everyone in a time of mourning.
If you’re reading this, I’ve finally kicked the bucket. I bet my family thought they’d have the last word. Nope, here I am with another opinion from beyond the grave. It’s like a ghost story, only nobody is going to haunt you later.
Except for my brother, Jim. I’ll definitely be haunting him. I still haven’t forgiven him for ruining my baseball jersey in 6th grade. Aside from haunting Jim, I look forward to passing my legacy to my daughters, Jessa and Madison. Thanks to everyone for putting up with me for so long.
The Johnson family is sad to announce the death of Sarah on July 17th. Her sister would like to share that Sarah was always the coolest girl in school. During Middle School, she spread a rumor about herself having lived her entire childhood in Paris.
She was such a good storyteller that just about everyone believed her — even her own sister! Despite her bad accent, she was a Parisian at heart, and this inspired her love of fashion, french food, and romance. Her sister is taking a trip to Paris this summer in her honor, and she might even find the long-lost family Sarah always talked about. May Sarah Repose en Paix.
Kevin Shake died surrounded by his family on August 1. His family remembers him fondly, especially his extensive list of very specific dislikes. Kevin hated the color red, especially when worn in relation to the Boston Red Sox.
He strongly detested anything that made it seem like he cared too much, like tucking in his shirt or wearing the many ties his wife, Jessica, purchased for him on a monthly basis. He liked his beer room temperature and you could never spot him without his signature t-shirt and ballcap (The Yankees, of course). His family requests that everyone crack open a lukewarm Bud Light in his honor.
Vivian Leslie made her last inappropriate and sarcastic comment this July. Luckily, she told enough jokes in her lifetime to pass along to her daughter, Gina. Her daughter follows in the family business of laughing in spite of life’s many challenges.
Though this is a difficult time for the family, they’ve found comfort in going through Vivian’s many belongings and collections, all of which seem to have hidden messages for her loved ones. A scratchy sweater for her brother, her over-the-top perfume collection for her daughter, and an endless supply of costume jewelry for her many friends. She made sure everyone had their work cut out for them, but Vivian’s legacy proves that laughter really is the best medicine.
Saying Goodbye with Humor
Obituaries don’t have to be boring or cookie cutter. Letting the deceased’s personality shine through is a great honor to a life well-lived. For someone who always laughed their way through life, a funny obituary is an outstanding tribute.
Break free from the strict structure of “traditional” obituaries and welcome something new. You never know what you might discover about yourself, your loved one, or the importance of a lasting legacy. Each person deserves to be remembered the way they want. Whether you’re writing an obituary for yourself or a loved one, make sure it’s a shining testament to life.