A No-Nonsense Outline For Writing Inspiring And Authentic Obituaries

How do you want to be remembered? 

Obituaries are meant to capture a person’s life, yet often, they are written in a rush and can read as bland and impersonal, like the obituary below:

Other obituaries, however, can make a lasting impact, like this humorous one below:

As you can see, the difference between an impersonal obituary and a truly authentic one is HUGE.

But how do you make time to write an epic obit? Between all the arrangements you have to manage as a funeral director, finding time to write an inspiring and personalized obituary may seem impossible.

These days with tools like social memorial websites, where friends and family come together online to honor and remember the dearly departed, it is especially important to make sure obituaries are thoughtful and truly reflect the one of a kind personality of the departed. 

Many people will read the obituary as they come to the website. And a well written obituary will inspire visitors to take a moment and reflect and honor the loved one. And in turn, they’ll encourage others to do the same, and share their favorite memories and connect with one another.

Check out the example below to see what we mean:

More and more families are looking for unique and memorable funeral services, and that includes obituaries that leave a lasting impression. 

We’ve created these interview questions and outline to help you get the family connected with writing the obituary. Not only does family involvement create a truly genuine and touching obituary, but it also helps free up your time to attend to other pressing matters. 

Consider using this as a pre-need offering as well! Some of the best obituaries are actually written by the deceased themselves. This is a great way for families to know their loved one will be remembered the way they truly want, plus everyone gets a chance to share stories and spend time together reflecting on a life well lived.

Interview questions for family members

You can send home these questions for families to take their time answering, or offer the personal touch of sitting down with them and asking them about their dearly departed:

    1. How would you describe the loved one’s personality? Did they have a loud sense of humor? Quiet and kind? Chatty social butterfly? Stoic and dependable?
    2. What were they passionate about? Any favorite hobbies or activities?
    3. How would you describe the impact they had upon you? 
    4. What about the impact they had on their community?
    5. What accomplishments in life were they most proud of? This can be awards and honors, but also consider moments like starting a family, traveling, their beautiful garden and home. 
    6. Who would they want to mention and thank? Family members, mentors, friends, people who had a meaningful connection or influenced them. Talk about what their relationship to the departed was like.
    7. What is your favorite memory of the deceased?
    8. Most importantly, how would they want to be remembered?


Next up: The outline for an outstanding obituary

Now that we have some personalized and detailed information, we can translate that into a wonderful memorial piece using this outline as a guide. Keep in mind that the tone of the obituary should reflect the personality of the loved one. If they had a big sense of humor infuse that into the writing! This will help the obituary really reflect the person you are writing about:

Part #1: The details of the departed 

      • Name
      • Dates of Birth & Death
      • Use questions 1 & 2 to paint a picture of how the loved one presented themselves to the world, what was their personality like?


Part #2: The life they lead

      • Here we talk about how they lived – what they accomplished and how they impacted others. 
      • Use questions 3 – 5 to describe how others experienced them,  the lasting impression they left upon their community. Mention proud moments of accomplishment!


Part 3: Those they shared their life with

      • Here we can share who impacted them in their lifetime. Surviving family, meaningful mentors, the dearly beloved.
      • Use question 6 to acknowledge those that meant the most to the departed.


Part 4: The legacy they want to leave behind

      • How does the departed want to be remembered?
      • Use questions 7 & 8 to conclude with memories of the departed that reflect their legacy and eternal impact they left upon the world. 
      • Invite others to the memorial. Include the date, time and location of services.


Let your obituaries live on an engaging website platform

Now that you’ve written a touching, personal, and one of kind obituary, it’s time to make sure it lives in the right place. Your obituaries should be a life long, interactive memorial for families. Want to offer your families this unique offering? 

Try f1Connect, the funeral profession’s most comprehensive all-in-one website platform. Click here  or give us a call at 1-800-798-2575 to talk to one of our Funeral Success Specialists today!


What are some of the most touching obituaries you’ve read or written? Tell us about them in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments.

  1. Trish

    I wrote this for my husband. I wanted people to know who he really was…

    Gregory C. Danku chose Sunday, January 13th 1957, a cold and blizzard day, to make his arrival at St. Joseph Hospital in Warren, Ohio. His parents Lou & Helen were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their 4th child, their second son, the black haired smiling and happy baby was truly a joy to them. He was baptized at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, a church that his grandparents and parents helped to build.

    As he grew up he was always the quiet boy behind the scenes, always doing things for others without being asked, because it needed to be done thus paving the way for how he would live his life as an adult. Always helping others and not expecting anything in return, especially when it came to his family. He loved to work alongside his father in the plumbing business learning more than pipes. He learned some pretty good jokes and sayings that would keep his fathers’ memory alive long after he was gone. Greg lost his dad to cancer in March of 1993.

    Greg always claimed that when he was young his older sisters kept locking him out of the house when his parents were gone for the evening. I believe it had something to do with the fact that he would climb out his bedroom window and climb down a tree to get out and then couldn’t get back in. One of his favourite things to do was to climb out the window and sit up on the roof or in the tree and just think. Greg was from a family of 8 that believed in family and taught him to love and cherish children, his siblings were Sharon, Jerry, Shirley, Suzanne and Sandy. They all were members in the Mohawks Drum and Bugle Corp. It was a chance for them to be together as a family and be able to travel. They even performed in Canada, so close to his future bride and neither one of them knew it, of course she was just an infant at that time. Greg was a loving brother to his sisters. As a matter of fact at the age of 11 or 12 he even built them a playhouse. Talk about a great brother! Unfortunately Greg lost his beloved little sister Sandy to cancer in March of 1982.

    Growing up in a small town there weren’t lots of places to go and hang out. However Greg was fortunate to have a big barn on the property. He made good use of the upper floor the ceiling was high enough that he built a basketball court and played constantly. I believe that is what helped him earn the High School record for foul shots, which he still holds today. Not only did he love sports, basketball being his favourite, he loved cars. He actually wanted to become a mechanic. During his teenage years he bought cars and rebuilt them, detailed them and then sold them. His favourite car was a dark green mustang. He and his friends used to drive around town just for fun he said. We know teenage boys, they were looking for teenage girls! Greg was really excited when his big brother Jerry (whom he idolized) left for the US Air Force and left him his car.

    After graduating from James A. Garfield in Garrettsville in June of 1975 he went off to Kent State University. Greg never did become a mechanic, instead he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a Plumber/Heating man taking a job with the Ohio Turnpike Commission. Greg retired from the OTC after a little more than 30 years in August of 2012 as a Division Trades Supervisor.

    Greg always loved children. When he started coaching baseball in the late 1980’s people would ask why he was coaching when he didn’t have children on the team. His answer was always the same. I love the kids. He loved coaching with Jerry when his nephew and Godson Dane played baseball and later when his own son Louie played. He considered himself fortunate to be an assistant coach at James A. Garfield High School when his nephew Stuart played basketball. His volunteer coaching career spanned more than 23 years! Now that is someone who believes in kids. He and Jerry shared a quote “For the Love of the Game!” and hoped to instill that love for sports in all the boys they coached. Part of Greg’s joy of sports were, bowling and golf. Both he loved to do as often as possible. He bowled in Garrettsville, Ravenna and Kent for more than 30 years loving every minute of it. His first 300 game was bowled in Ravenna with his buddies Dave and Kerry by his side cheering him on. His golfing adventures were legendary. He had golf outings with friends and family to West Virginia and Southern Ohio for almost 30 years. Uncle Stan has quite a few stories that we may never hear!

    Greg eventually fell in love with a young Canadian girl, you know the infant he was close to when he performed in Canada. He almost lost her when he and his sister Shirley played a trick pretending that they were a couple, good thing she had a sense of humour (it only took 3 days for it to come back). He proposed on Mothers’ Day saying that he wanted her to be the Mother of his children. What a guy! He even asked her Father’s permission! He and Trish married in November 1995 and he gained more siblings 8 more to be exact, Mary Lynn, Kathie, Carol, John, David, Billy, Kevin and Susie and all of their offspring, who were so excited to call him Uncle Greg. One of his new nieces even wore a dress to impress him and Jenny never wore dresses, he had that impact on women he even got Cassie to start walking ~ to him! He truly made an impression on his new family. On January 19th of 2000 Greg received his most cherished gift, his son Louie who was born on a cold blustery winter day, just like his daddy. Greg’s life changed immediately, now he has his own boy!! He took paternity leave to be home with his son for the first 6 weeks. He was in love and couldn’t get enough. He and Louie had a great bond from the very start. To say Greg was a family man was one thing, once he had his own child family even meant more to him, if that was even possible. Greg, Trish and Louie were always around town doing everything together. The first night Greg and Trish had a “date” night when Louie was 1, they promised each other it would be a night about them, no child talk. When the restaurant owner asked where Louie was they knew their night was over and it was time to go home. His life was good!

    For the next 12 years he remodeled homes with his brother, went to Texas to help his sister Sue, visited his sister Sharon, coached and spent time with his family. On August 26th 2008 Greg lost his best friend/brother Jerry to cancer. He was devastated. They had so many plans for the future with himself, Jerry and Louie building a company to renovate homes, they had done so much together and he couldn’t imagine his life without him. In May of 2012 Greg was diagnosed with end stage pancreatic cancer. As sick as he was he continued coaching baseball. He would be with his boys as long as he was physically able and he never complained even as the pain was intolerable. Talk about determined. On Thursday August 23rd he told us he was on his way to Heaven and would be leaving in 3 days. On Saturday August 25th he professed his Faith. Sunday August 26th (4 years to the day of Jerry leaving us) at 10:05 am as he was being held by his wife, he was welcomed into Heaven by his brother, sister and father and we know who welcomed him by the smile on his face and the joy that was in his heart when he left us.

    His legacy continues in the boys he coached, the extended family he left behind, his beautiful son Louie and his wife Trish. He will always be remembered for his love of sports, quiet ways, sense of humour and love of family.

    He left behind his loving wife Trish and son Louie; his mother Helen Danku of Garrettsville; sisters: Sharon (Kenny) Miller, of Leesburg, Fl; Shirley Danku, of Hudson; Suzanne (Kenny) Broz, of Spring Tx; in-laws Lynn (Dave) McPherson, Kathie (Terry) Nixon, David Pritchard, Sue (Rick) Locatelli, all of Ottawa ON; Carol (Ray) Pritchard-Fine, of Aylmer Que; John (Sylvia) Pritchard, of Des Moines Wa; Bill (Christine Bialkowski) Pritchard, Nelson, BC; Kevin (Nicole) Pritchard of Cornwall, ON. to cherish their memories of the good times that were shared.

    Greg was laid to rest in Park Cemetery in Garrettsville in front of his brother, father and sister. When you are there, stop to visit, you can’t miss his headstone. It’s a baseball glove.

    Never Forgotten, Always Loved.

    In lieu of flowers, donations will be graciously accepted by the St. Ambrose Pro-Life Fund, c/o St. Ambrose Parish or for new GHS band uniforms, c/o Garfield Band Boosters, 10233St. Rte. 88, Garrettsville, OH 44231 (payable to Garfield Band Boosters, memo: uniforms in memory of G. Danku).

  2. Krystal Penrose

    Wow Trish, what a touching tribute. Thank you so much for sharing this with the world, I can imagine writing this to be very healing and touching. A beautiful celebration of a beautiful life! Thanks again.

  3. 15 Facts On Funeral Personalization We Bet You Didn’t Know – Philadelphia Insurance Group

    […] Now that obituaries can be displayed on long lasting social memorial websites it’s important that they be personal. Memorial websites with a well written obit bring loved ones together in an amazing way. Check out this guide to writing epic obits. […]