When a loved one passes away, immediate family members are left with the difficult task of announcing the death and funeral/memorial arrangements to others. If you've recently experienced the loss of a loved one and are tasked with making these announcements, you may be wondering where to begin. How should you go about informing others—and what are some things you should keep in mind along the way?
Traditional vs. modern ways of making a death announcement
Announcing the death of a loved one to the world is never easy. Choosing the proper avenue by which to make this announcement can present its own set of challenges. When deciding on how to announce a death and subsequent funeral/memorial, consider the avenue that would reach the widest audience most easily.
For example, if you're announcing the passing of your grandfather, who rarely used computers or social media, you may want to stick with a more traditional announcement format—especially for his friends and loved ones who also don't spend a lot of time online. If this is the case, you might consider a "traditional" announcement via phone chain, where you contact several people, providing them with a list of people to call to begin to spread the news for you. While this is the most personal way to deliver the bad news, this can be time-consuming and emotionally taxing. Others may prefer a more hands-off approach to announcing, such as a death announcement or obituary in a local newspaper.
More modern death announcement options include group e-mails and even Facebook or social media posts. With most people today using social media on a regular basis, a Facebook announcement can often be the quickest and most efficient way to deliver your message to a large group of people. At the same time, some people may consider a social media announcement to be too impersonal. As a general rule of thumb, it’s still best to tell close family and friends of the deceased by phone before making a public announcement online or in the newspaper.
Death announcement cards are an option to consider. These mailed cards are commonly used to invite individuals to a memorial or celebration of life service— especially when the event is further off in the future. The cards contain the ceremony information, and usually a photo of the deceased. These cards offer a personal touch without the emotional burden (and time commitment) involved in making phone calls or starting a phone chain to send out the invite. You could also accomplish the same thing using Evite (free) or Paperlesspost.com (paid) to send digital invites.
Ultimately, the choice of which announcement format to use is up to you. Many people will choose to issue a formal death announcement in a newspaper obituary in addition to a more modern announcement format, such as e-mail or social media.
What About Wording?
Coming up with the right words to announce a loved one's death can be extremely difficult. This is where it can be helpful to take a look at a death announcement sample. An example announcement can give you a better idea of what you may want to include in your own announcement. As you review examples, you'll likely find that the wording can range greatly from very formulaic to deeply emotional and personal.
In general, a death and funeral/memorial announcement should at least include:
- the name of the deceased
- date of passing
- date, time, and location of service
- reception details (if applicable)
In some cases, you may also wish to include extra details in a death announcement, such as the surviving family members' names, the deceased's employer, a photo, or even information on where memorial contributions can be made.
These details are typically included on a formal death/funeral announcement, though other platforms like Facebook allow you the ability to write as much as you'd like. Therefore, you might consider a short and formal announcement in addition to a longer and more heartfelt announcement on your Facebook page.
A Note About Funeral/Memorial Announcements
If you plan on posting funeral/memorial announcements on a public platform, such as social media, be sure to specify if the service will be open to the public or if it will be reserved for family members only. In some cases, it may be necessary to explain that portions of the service will be reserved for family only (such as the viewing before the funeral service or the burial service). This can help to avoid any misunderstandings or uncomfortable situations on the day of the service. It is also not uncommon to only announce funeral/memorial details privately, especially when family members do not want the service open to the public. You can create private Facebook or Evite events that are only visible to the people you invite.
Create a Living Memorial With Facebook
If your deceased loved one had a Facebook account, you may also want to look into having his or her Facebook profile turned into a living memorial. This is an option Facebook has made available to those who have passed away. In order for you to do this, your deceased loved one must have designated a "legacy
In the case where no legacy contact is designated, family members can also reach out to Facebook directly to request that an account
When a Facebook profile is memorialized, it can no longer be logged into and the account will no longer appear in search results. However, existing "friends" of the account can still view the page and share photos or other memories (depending on privacy settings). This can be a great option for keeping a loved one's memory living on for many years to come.
Why end-of-life planning is so important
If you’re in the middle of planning a funeral for a loved one who died, you may be realizing that there’s a lot of hard decisions left behind to make. However, if we plan ahead for all our end-of-life decisions, this makes funeral planning and grieving a lot easier on the people we care about most. Cake is a free website that makes it easy for anyone to begin documenting and sharing their end-of-life wishes and decisions. While it's never fun to think about these things, we owe it to our loved ones to have our final affairs in order. When things settle down, consider creating your free Cake plan.
Gaille, Brandon. "8 Death Announcement Wording Ideas." Brandon Gaille. 14 November 2014. brandongaille.com/8-death-announcement-wording-ideas/