You might have to turn into quite a wordsmith when someone dies. The obituary and the eulogy for the memorial service alone can keep your computer humming along. But one of the first things you’ll need to write when your loved one dies is a memorial service announcement — an announcement of the death gives family and friends details about the services.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Is a Memorial Service Announcement?
- What to Include in a Memorial Service Announcement
- Where Can You Post a Memorial Service Announcement?
- Announcement Templates for an Email
- Announcement Templates for Social Media
- Announcement Templates for the Newspaper
- Announcement Templates for a Physical Invitation
Here are some tips on how to write a clear, succinct, heartfelt memorial service announcement.
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What Is a Memorial Service Announcement?
Before discussing the definition of a memorial service announcement, let’s discuss the difference between a memorial service and a funeral.
Although modern audiences may use the terms interchangeably, traditionally, a memorial service refers to an end-of-life service held without the body of the deceased present.
This means that a Memorial Service Announcement includes all the details necessary for someone to attend this end-of-life service. This is different from an obituary, which contains biographical information about the person’s life as well as information about their end-of-life service.
A memorial service announcement first identifies the deceased. Typically the full name of the person is given, including nicknames and maiden names. The birth and death dates generally are included as well. The location of the death (or the place of residence of the deceased) is also often included to help in matters of identification.
Once you have identified the deceased, you need to give all the essential information to enable someone to attend the memorial service. This includes the day and date of the service, the time, and the location (including the address).
If the family has any special requests, such as suggesting that attendees wear clothes that support the deceased’s favorite team, you would also include those instructions in the announcement.
Some families choose to announce if a meal, repast, or reception is planned following the service.
If the memorial service will be livestreamed, the announcement may give the URL and password needed to attend the virtual event.
There’s not a lot of room for creativity when you write a memorial service announcement. In fact, writing an announcement for a memorial service is similar to writing an invitation to a gathering. You need to address who, what, where, and when.
Make sure you include the following:
- The name of the deceased: Include the first and last name of the deceased. If the name is common, you may also want to include a middle name. Include the maiden name of the deceased in parentheses and the commonly-used nickname of a person in quotes. For example, you’d write Mary Marie (Smith) Jones or Franklin “Buddy” Jackson.
- Birth and death dates of the deceased: You don't need to include the deceased’s birth and death dates in a memorial service announcement, but the information can be helpful. The dates will help distinguish the death of Mary Jones born in the 1930s or Mary Jones born in the 1960s.
- Date of the service: Make sure you give an accurate date for the memorial service. In fact, you may need to provide two different dates — one for the visitation or the wake and the other for the funeral service.
- Time of the service: Make sure to include the beginning and ending times for a visitation or wake. Those who wish to attend the visitation will know that the family will be there to greet them during a specific timeframe.
- Location of the service: Include the name of the funeral home or religious building as well as its address. If the service is in a small community, you could get by with including the name of the place with its town, such as the Shawnee Community Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
- Live stream or virtual URL with a passcode. Some families opt to live stream or host a virtual funeral using a service like GatheringUs, so all guests can view the event, interact, and share memories of their loved one.
- Location of burial or entombment: If family members are planning to have a graveside service, share this information. Give the address of the cemetery to assist those who are unfamiliar with the area.
- Information regarding meals or receptions: It’s common for meals to be shared after memorial services and is helpful to share this information with other mourners.
- Special requests: Some families choose to have private memorial services for their loved ones. If this is the case, make sure these wishes are known. Otherwise, mourners will spend time trying to figure out any unpublished arrangements. You may also consider letting others know whether the family would prefer a donation to a favorite charity instead of flowers.
Remember, you don’t want to wax poetic on your loved one’s life in a memorial service announcement. This is not where you should include the lyrics of your loved one’s favorite funeral songs. You’ll simply tell others when the services are and where to go.
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Where Can You Post a Memorial Service Announcement?
You can post the memorial service announcement for a loved one in many different publications and websites. However, keep in mind that the most critical factor of publicizing a memorial service is that it is done prior to the service.
Here are some places you can post an announcement for a memorial service for a loved one:
Some families choose to spread the word about a memorial service by publishing an announcement in the local newspaper (or multiple newspapers). However, it’s important to realize that most newspapers require that such a notice be submitted by a funeral home or cremation provider. This decreases the likelihood that false information is printed regarding a person’s death.
Most newspapers charge a per-word fee to print obituaries and service announcements. Depending on the circulation numbers of the newspaper, you may have to spend hundreds of dollars to publish an obituary. However, death notices are typically shorter and won’t cost as much to print. Some publications will print these basic notices for free or for a nominal fee.
Online memorial websites
There are quite a few websites that allow you to create a remembrance page for a deceased loved one. Online memorial pages can be shared on social media, and some have the primary purpose of spreading the word about end-of-life events.
There are others, but these are the two that focus on planning and informing others about the event. Some of these websites require a paid subscription, but others offer a free basic service.
Funeral home or cremation provider websites
Some funeral homes, especially those in small to medium-sized towns, may publish the memorial service information for those in their care in the local newspaper or on their business website. Talk with the funeral home staff serving your family about their requirements for this service. This service may be included in the total fees that you pay to the company, or you may be charged extra for this service.
You may consider posting the information regarding your loved one’s memorial service on Facebook, Twitter, or another type of social media account. To spread the word to a larger audience, consider tagging your deceased loved one so their followers will receive the information as well.
If you would rather keep the event more private, you may want to message those you know have an interest in attending directly.
Most of the time, memorial services are not announced via email. There may be exceptions to that rule. Maybe the person who died was still employed and had a lot of long-term business clients.
If this is the case, the survivors might want to send an email to the deceased’s email address book or client list. Here are some samples of text you might want to include.
- It is with profound sorrow that we announce the death of Harry Smith (January 12, 1962 – October 29, 2019). The visitation will be held on [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.] The memorial service will be held on [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.] A graveside service will follow Thursday’s memorial service.
- In remembrance of Sally Jones, we will hold a memorial service for her on [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.] Please join us as we celebrate this extraordinary person. A reception will follow in the church hall.
- It is with great sadness that the family of Michael Smith (1943-2019) announces his death. A public visitation will be held on [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.]
Announcing deaths via social media has become the norm and it has its advantages, too.
One of the main advantages of sending a message through these platforms is that family members don’t have to identify everyone who would want to know about their loved one’s death. If the family tags the deceased in a memorial announcement, all of their loved one's connections will be informed.
Using Facebook or some other social media platform to announce a death also allows the family to be more heartfelt with service announcements. Here are some ideas:
- Our hearts are broken. We are saddened to announce the death of our mother, wife, sister, and daughter, Blythe Spencer. Please join us as we celebrate her life on [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.] A luncheon will be served in the church hall following the burial service.
- Susan Sodderheim will be forever in our hearts. We will be hosting a celebration of her life at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS] ON [DAY, DATE] at [TIME]. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to the American Cancer Society.
- We miss him greatly but we rejoice in Peter Franklin’s triumphant return to his Heavenly Father. Please join us as we celebrate Peter’s life on [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.]
The funeral home provides most newspaper announcements. They are usually simple, with just the necessary information provided.
- Francis Lloyd Westchire (February 23, 1948 – October 28, 2019): Friends and family are invited to attend a memorial service in Francis’ honor on [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.] A graveside service will follow at Sunset Cemetery in Springfield.
- Margaret (Wilder) Keene died on October 28, 2019. A visitation will be held at [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.] The memorial service will be the next day on [DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.] A luncheon will be served after the memorial service at Jones’ BBQ at [ADDRESS].
- The family of Brian “Skippy” Thomas invites you to celebrate his life at a memorial service. The service will be held on [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.] Instead of providing flowers, we ask that you donate to the Thomas Children’s Scholarship Fund.
There are plenty of websites that will sell personalized funeral announcements, but this presents a time crunch for printing and distributing a formal written invitation — most of the time, a funeral is held within a week of a death.
Most memorial services are announced through local printed or online newspapers. If you do want to print the announcements yourself, consider using something like these blank invitation cards from Amazon.
- George Michael Edison (October 27, 1971 – October 29, 2019) memorial service: [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.] Lunch will be served immediately following the service at Sunshine Café, [LOCATION].
- It is with our deepest sorrow that we inform you of the death of our beloved wife and mother, Petunia Mae (Fredericks) Smith. A family memorial service will be held on [DAY, DATE]. She is survived by her husband Frederick, three children, and eight grandchildren.
- “Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” — Rabindranath Tagore. Please help us celebrate the life of Robin (Jones) Kendra. [DAY, DATE] at [TIME] at [LOCATION AND ADDRESS.]
Remembering Your Loved One
Remember, funeral announcements are traditionally short, simple pieces of text that announce the death and the date, time, and location for the services. Most funeral announcements are no more than 120 words.
These can be tough to write, so give the task of writing a funeral announcement to someone who is not as close to the deceased. You may ask the funeral home director or the person leading the service to write the text of the funeral announcement.
Before the memorial service information is published, make sure that several people check the text for errors in spelling, punctuation — and triple-check the facts. It would be a shame if mourners arrive at a service only to find that the wrong date had been published.
Writing a memorial funeral announcement is an important task to complete after losing a loved one — so don’t gloss over the details. After all, everyone should be given a chance to say goodbye to a family member or a friend.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, you have more than just the details of the memorial to think about. Handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.