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An obituary is a published death notice with a short summary of a person’s life, plus a list of family members, both living and deceased.

It is generally placed in a local newspaper and other publications related to the person’s affiliations and places of residence.

Where to Publish

The obituary is usually published in your local newspaper, and newspapers where you lived previously. It can also be sent to alumni magazines and your club, lodge or other organizations.
Online obituary sites will post your obituary free or for a fee. Some online sites allow friends and family to add their memories about the person who has died.


If a photograph will be included in the obituary, choose one that expresses the spirit of the person who has died. It could be a recent photo, or an older picture showing them enjoying a favorite place, activity, or time in their life.


Most newspapers now charge for printing an obituary. There can also be an additional charge to include a photo. In some smaller towns, obituaries can still be published for free.

Obituary Tips

To avoid identity theft, ask the publication not to publish your maiden name, or your full date of birth.

If you write your own obituary in advance, be sure to update it every few years, or whenever there is a change such as new grandchildren or a death in the family.

Famous People

News organizations may have a pre-written obituary on file for famous people who are still alive. This let’s them publish a detailed obituary on short notice when someone dies. If you are well-known, either locally or nationally, you could make a list of newspapers and magazines that may want to publish an article about your life when you die.

Elements of an Obituary

Date of birth
Place of birth
Name of surviving spouse
Name of deceased spouse
Names of surviving children
Names of deceased children
Number of grandchildren
Number of great-grandchildren
Educational institutions attended
Employment details
Military service
Where to send flowers
Suggested donations to charity (include the name, address and phone number)

Related Issues
Funeral or memorial service
Visitation and viewing

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