Losing a spouse is one of the hardest things anyone will ever go through. One way to ensure his memory lives on is through the obituary. This is a type of formal death announcement that not only shares news of the passing, but also tells a bit of their life story.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Collect Information
- Step 2: Announce the Death
- Step 3: Create a Highlights Reel
- Step 4: List Surviving and Predeceased Family
- Step 5: Service Times and Special Messages
- Obituary Samples for Husbands, Fathers, and Ex-Husbands
Like writing any obituary, it’s important to capture the key parts of the individual’s life, relationships, and legacy. Since most people understandably don’t know how to write an obituary, this can be a tricky and intimidating process.
Whether you’re writing an obituary for your own husband or another loved one, you’ll want to create a touching tribute. This is more than just an announcement of death. This is a reminder of who the husband was during his time on earth. It’s something that lasts for years and decades to come.
Because we don’t usually write obituaries very often, this guide shares how to write an obituary for a husband. In addition, there are samples to spark inspiration for this important work of writing.
For more help with all the tasks associated with losing a loved one, from writing an obituary to finding grief support, check out our post-loss checklist.
Step 1: Collect Information
Before you begin, you need to collect the right information. You’ll need to know a lot of the husband’s key facts like birthdate, date of death, hometown, and so on. These can be found from close friends and family, but they’re also likely on the birth and death certificates.
Another important part of this process is determining how the obituary will be published. Different publications and mediums have different restrictions. For example, if it’s being published in a local paper, there is likely a word limit for the obituary.
It’s common to have a smaller version of the obituary for local papers and a longer version for online memorials or social media. Once you’ve gathered this information, move on to the next step.
Step 2: Announce the Death
The first part of the obituary is also the most straightforward. You can think of this as the formal death announcement. This is where you begin with the basic facts like:
- Date of birth
- Place of residence
- Time of death
- Cause of death (optional)
For example, the obituary might begin, “John Smith passed away on April 17 at age 80 after a long battle with cancer. He was born on November 6, 1945, and he was a longtime resident of Charleston, West Virginia.”
These first few sentences or lines are where you share the most vital information about the death announcement. While some might feel comfortable sharing the cause of death, don’t feel pressured to include this if you don’t want to. It’s perfectly acceptable to keep this private amongst close family.
Step 3: Create a Highlights Reel
A lot of people get confused about the difference between eulogy and obituary. A eulogy is a closer recount of the story of someone’s life, while an obituary is more like a highlights reel. This isn’t a full biography. It’s where you share some of the most important events, relationships, qualities, and legacies of the deceased.
In your obituary for a husband, you’ll want to list events that matter most, like marriage, children, career, and so on. There are no hard and fast rules on what to include, and everything doesn’t have to be listed in order.
Think of this as creating an impression of a person. If you only had a minute to share what you loved most about him, what would you share? This is what you should include in this section of the obituary.
For example, after the intro we created above, you might write, “John was married to the love of his life, Annie, who he married at age 18. They have two children, Margarette and Jane, who were the light of John’s life. After a 45 year career with the Army, John retired to spend more time golfing and volunteering with his local community.”
Step 4: List Surviving and Predeceased Family
Funerals are for the living and so are obituaries. This is the time to list any surviving family members as well as predeceased family. In general, you only list the closest family (spouse, kids, grandkids, and parents). In some cases, you might list extended family or even close friends. It’s up to the individual to decide what mattered most to the deceased.
There is obituary etiquette for predeceased family to be aware of. You’ll need to list the surviving and predeceased family in a specific order. This begins with the surviving family first, usually with the closest family members first. This is followed by any predeceased family.
To continue with the same example above, “John is survived by his spouse Annie, his children Margarette and Jane, and three grandchildren. His parents, Mathew and Janet Smith, passed away the previous year.”
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Step 5: Service Times and Special Messages
Finally, end the obituary for the husband with information about the service and any special messages from the family. You could include the time and date of service, whether it’s open to the public, and any special donation requests in honor of your loved one.
You don’t have to share any memorial service or visitation information if you’re having a private event. This is, once again, up to the family’s comfort level.
Let’s finish the previous example with this in mind. “The Smith family will be holding a service at Charleston Catholic Church on April 22 at 5:00 PM. The family requests donations to the American Cancer Society in lieu of flowers. They’d also like to thank the cancer team at Charleston Research Hospital for their ongoing support.”
Obituary Samples for Husbands, Fathers, and Ex-Husbands
While understanding the steps needed to write an obituary is helpful, it’s even better to read some samples for yourself. These examples below show how to write an obituary for husbands, fathers, and ex-husbands.
Example for a husband
Chris Wellford passed away unexpectedly at age 27 on July 1 at St. Mary’s Hospital with his devoted wife, Amber, at his side. Chris was born on May 12, 1985, in Savannah, Georgia. He moved to San Diego, California to be with his wife who he met through work. Though he was only on earth for a short time, he is remembered every day by his friends and family. Chris had a sense of humor that lit up any room, and his wife hopes to continue his legacy by starting a charity in his honor. There will be a memorial service held at his family’s home in San Diego on July 6 at 10:00 AM. The family is asking for thoughts and prayers as they grieve.
Example for a husband and father or grandfather
It is with great sadness that the Fran family announces the death of Mark Fran. He passed on August 8 surrounded by his wife, Tina, and his daughter, Mary. Mark graduated from Tampa High School and pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science at USF. He spent 20 years working with the Florida Wildlife Service to restore endangered species to the Everglades. Every chance he could, he took his daughter, Mary, with him kayaking. Because of her father, she plans to follow in his footsteps at USF this fall. Mark is survived by Tina, his beloved wife of 25 years, his daughter, and his brother, Daniel Fran. His family will hold a private memorial on the beach in his honor.
Example obituary for an ex-husband
Samuel Rodriguez died March 3rd at his family’s home in Miami, Florida after a long battle with cancer. He graduated from Miami South High School in 1998 before beginning his career as a medical researcher. While studying at FAU, he met his best friend, Sandra. They soon married, giving birth to their son, Manny. Though they later divorced, Sandra and Samuel stayed close friends. He is survived by his son, Manny, his ex-wife, Sandra, and his mother, Flora. There will be a private service amongst family members. His ex-wife and son plan to take a trip to the beach this April to scatter his ashes in his favorite place.
Honor Your Husband’s Memory
An obituary is a highly personal thing, but it’s also only one side of a story. While it’s a great way to understand a snapshot of someone’s life, it’s a small piece in a larger legacy. Learning to write an obituary for yourself is an important writing practice, but writing an obituary for a husband is something else entirely.
This is a highly emotional time. It’s hard to find the “right” words to tell the unique story that made your loved one so special. As long as you’re honoring their life, relationships, and legacy, you’re crafting an obituary they would be proud of.
If you're looking for more ways to honoring your husband after he dies, read our guides on how to write a eulogy for your husband and the best sympathy gifts for someone who lost a husband.