6 Free Obituary Templates + Obituary Writing Tips

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An obituary is essentially a death announcement that’s published in a newspaper or on online memorial sites. More importantly, though, an obituary shares details of a person’s life.

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It isn’t just your opportunity to let people know about the death and funeral details of a loved one. It gives you a chance to tell one last story about their lives.

If you’re not a trained writer, crafting an obituary from scratch— and may seem like a tall order. You may not have any idea how to write an obituary. But we all have a story that needs to be told. And, with some guidance, you can tell the story of your loved one’s life with ease.

Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, it's tough to handle both the emotional and technical aspects of their unfinished business 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.

Free Customizable Obituary Templates

If you don’t know how to begin crafting an obituary, a template can help you push through writer’s block and begin putting words to paper.

So, we’ve put together some templates. Look through and find one that works for your circumstances, and simply fill in the blanks. Once you’ve done so, add details and make tweaks to personalize the obituary.

If you’d like to add something to a template, but you’re not sure if it’s appropriate, read our guide on obituary etiquette

1. For someone who’s having a funeral or memorial service

On [Date], [Name] died in [Location] of [cause of death]. They were [age] years old.

[Name] is survived by [his/her/their] parents [Parents' names] of [Name of their location]; [his/her/their] [wife/husband] [Name of spouse]; [his/her/their] children, [Insert names]; and siblings [Names of siblings] of [Name of their locations]. [He/she/they] were preceded in death by [Names of grandparents, parents, or other close relatives]

[Name] was born on [Date of birth] in [City, State]. [He/she/they] graduated from [Name of high school] in [Year of graduation] and went on to attend [Name of college] where they graduated in [Year of graduation] with a degree in [area of study]

[Name] married [Name of spouse] in [year of marriage]. [include details of how they met and connected]. They welcomed [Child #1] in [year of birth] and [Child #2] in [year of birth]. [Insert a few lines with biographical information about the deceased - discuss their hobbies, interests, talents, etc.]

A memorial service for [Name] is scheduled for [time and date] at [Name of Location]. It will be immediately followed by a graveside burial ceremony at [Name of Location]. Flowers and condolences can be sent to [address].  

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2. For someone who’s not having a funeral or memorial service

On [Date], [Name] died in [Location] at the age of [age].

[Name] is survived by [his/her/their] parents [Parents' names] of [Name of their location]; [his/her/their] [wife/husband] [Name of spouse]; [his/her/their] children, [Insert names]; and siblings [Names of siblings] of [Name of their locations]. [He/she/they] were preceded in death by [Names of grandparents, parents, or other close relatives]

[Name] was born on [Date of birth] in [City, State]. [He/she/they] graduated from [Name of high school] in [Year of graduation] and went on to attend [Name of college] where they graduated in [Year of graduation] with a degree in [area of study]

[Name] married [Name of spouse] in [year of marriage]. [include details of how they met and connected]. They welcomed [Child #1] in [year of birth] and [Child #2] in [year of birth]. [Insert a few lines with biographical information about the deceased - discuss their hobbies, interests, talents, etc.]

No memorial service or funeral is planned. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to [Name of charity or nonprofit]

3. For someone who had an accomplished career

On [Date], [Name] died in [Location] of [insert cause of death]. They were [age] years of age.

[Name] is survived by [his/her/their] parents [Parents' names] of [Name of their location]; [his/her/their] [wife/husband] [Name of spouse]; [his/her/their] children, [Insert names]; and siblings [Names of siblings] of [Name of their locations]. [He/she/they] were preceded in death by [Names of grandparents, parents, or other close relatives]

[Name] was born on [Date of birth] in [City, State]. [He/she/they] graduated from [Name of college] in [Year of graduation]. They earned [list all degrees].

After graduating, [Name] took a job at [Name of Company] in location. They went on to [list accomplishments in their field]. [Describe other work experience]

A memorial service for [Name] is scheduled for [time and date] at [Name of Location]. It will be immediately followed by a funeral at [Name of Location]. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to [Name of charity or nonprofit]

4. For someone who had success outside of their career

On [Date], [Name] died in [Location]. They were [age] years old.

[Name] is survived by [his/her/their] parents [Parents' names] of [Name of their location]; [his/her/their] [wife/husband] [Name of spouse]; [his/her/their] children, [Insert names]; and siblings [Names of siblings] of [Name of their locations]. [He/she/they] were preceded in death by [Names of grandparents, parents, or other close relatives]

[Name] was born on [Date of birth] in [City, State]. [He/she/they] graduated from [Name of high school] in [Year of graduation]. [Name] married [Name of spouse] in [year of marriage]. [include details of how they met and connected]. They welcomed [Child #1] in [year of birth] and [Child #2] in [year of birth]

[Name] worked [Name of employer], but [his/her/their] true passion was [major interests or hobbies]. [Include information about hobbies, including any awards or accomplishments]

A memorial service for [Name] is scheduled for [time and date] at [Name of Location]. It will be immediately followed by a private graveside burial ceremony. 

5. For someone who died suddenly

On [Date], [Name] died unexpectedly in [Location] of [cause of death]. They were [age] years old.

[Name] is survived by [his/her/their] parents [Parents' names] of [Name of their location]; [his/her/their] [wife/husband] [Name of spouse]; [his/her/their] children, [Insert names]; and siblings [Names of siblings] of [Name of their locations]. [He/she/they] were preceded in death by [Names of grandparents, parents, or other close relatives]

[Name] was born on [Date of birth] in [City, State]. [He/she/they] graduated from [Name of high school] in [Year of graduation] and went on to attend [Name of college] where they graduated in [Year of graduation] with a degree in [area of study]

[Name] married [Name of spouse] in [year of marriage]. [include details of how they met and connected]. They welcomed [Child #1] in [year of birth] and [Child #2] in [year of birth]. [Insert a few lines with biographical information about the deceased - discuss their hobbies, interests, talents, etc.]

A memorial service for [Name] is scheduled for [time and date] at [Name of Location]. It will be immediately followed by a graveside burial ceremony at [Name of Location]. Flowers and condolences can be sent to [address].  

6.  For someone who died after a long illness

On [Date], [Name] died in [Location] after a long battle with [name of illness]. They were [age] years old.

[Name] is survived by [his/her/their] parents [Parents' names] of [Name of their location]; [his/her/their] [wife/husband] [Name of spouse]; [his/her/their] children, [Insert names]; and siblings [Names of siblings] of [Name of their locations]. [He/she/they] were preceded in death by [Names of grandparents, parents, or other close relatives]

[Name] was born on [Date of birth] in [City, State]. [He/she/they] graduated from [Name of high school] in [Year of graduation] and went on to attend [Name of college] where they graduated in [Year of graduation] with a degree in [area of study]

[Name] married [Name of spouse] in [year of marriage]. [include details of how they met and connected]. They welcomed [Child #1] in [year of birth] and [Child #2] in [year of birth]. [Insert a few lines with biographical information about the deceased - discuss their hobbies, interests, talents, etc.]

A celebration of life for [Name] is scheduled for [time and date] at [Name of Location]. The family asks that donations be sent to [Name of charity, nonprofit, or hospital] in lieu of flowers. 

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Quick Obituary Writing Tips

Now that you’ve gotten your obituary template filled out, you can feel free to make changes to make the obituary warmer and more personal. Here are some tips to help you further customize an obituary:

  • Make your writing as personal as possible: Obituaries are usually the last printed story about someone’s life. Do your best to really sum up who they were by sharing unique information about the things and people they loved. 
  • Keep it light: While people grieve and mourn after death, an obituary doesn’t have to be grim. While obituaries may seem serious, an obituary should be all about celebrating the life of someone you’ve lost. The overall tone should be somewhat lighthearted, if possible.
  • Write multiple versions: Newspapers usually charge by word count or column inches to run obituaries, so try to keep them as brief as possible if you’re on a budget. However, many newspaper websites will allow longer obituaries to be published at a flat rate. Write an extended obituary for the newspaper website, funeral website, or an online memorial website. Have the abridged version run in the actual newspaper.  
  • Get a second opinion: Writing an obituary can be emotionally draining. Have a family member or close friend review the obituary before you send it to the newspaper. They can help polish it up, and make sure there are no errors or inaccuracies. 
  • Select the right photo: A picture’s worth a thousand words. Include a relatively recent picture of the deceased, so people are able to easily recognize them. For an online obituary without space limits, you can include several photos. Add in photos from their younger days, with family, or friends.
  • Pick out the perfect charity: Pick a charity that the deceased would have approved of. This might include the hospital where they were treated, a foundation that works to cure a disease they struggled with or a nonprofit organization they volunteered with. Avoid anything that the deceased would have been philosophically or morally opposed to.   

Writing an Obituary is Simpler Than You Might Think

Even if you’re not familiar with the rituals surrounding death and barely know what to expect at a funeral, you can write a wonderful obituary. The secret is to know your subject well. Use these templates to take the guesswork out of what you should include, then add personal details. 

You are more than qualified to tell the story of your loved one’s life. You might just need a little help getting started.  If you need more help, check out our guides to sample obituaries for mothers or fathers, and how to write an obituary for yourself.

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