How to write a death announcement

small__2343714916When you’ve just lost a loved one, it can be very hard to find the courage to write an announcement of their death for the newspapers, and other public media. But announce it you must, so friends, colleagues, associates and more distant family will know of your loss and what the funeral arrangements are, so they can come and pay their respects.

For a list of all 12 articles in this series on how to write well to people dealing with death, bereavement and other life sadness, click here. 

In most industrialised countries there is a set format for death announcements and all you need to do is to look in the publication you’re going to use, and copy the formats you see in their death announcement pages.

Of course, if you’re using professional funeral directors, they will guide you on how to phrase your announcement according to how they find other people in your area tend to word them.

To find out more about how to do it, it’s worthwhile to Google “how to write a death announcement” … I just did and Google came up with 14.5 million results. Choose a style and approach that’s suitable for:

  • Your loved one, you and your family
  • Your loved one’s status in work and in the community
  • Your own country, culture and locality

Do you have to stick to the rules?

Here in the UK, many local newspaper death announcements consist of fairly standard wording, as follows:

Peacefully after a long battle with (disease), at (name of hospice, hospital, residence, “at home” etc.), (name of person again) aged XX, beloved wife of XX, mother of XX, YY, and ZZ and grandmother of AA, BB, CC and DD. Will be sadly missed by all who knew her. Funeral will be at (location) (date) (time). Family flowers only. Donations if you wish to (charity of choice.)

Now that is perfectly acceptable, especially as it’s just like everyone else’s death announcements.

You may also find the following articles helpful:
What to write when someone has died
How to write a letter of sympathy when someone dies
How to write a eulogy
How to write an obituary

But even if you’re advised to conform, there should be nothing to stop you from wording your loved one’s death announcement in the way that you  want. However you should, of course, bear in mind that most newspapers and other publications charge for these things by the word. If your budget is restricted then you need to avoid lengthy text. And also, there are some basic elements that you can work into the announcement – some are essential, some optional:

Essentials: name (including title, military or other rank), date of death, date, time and location of funeral, flowers, donations.

Optional: deceased person’s age, where s/he died, names of close relatives.

However there is nothing to stop you rewording this sample text above, as follows (to give you an example of how it could be made to be a bit different from the other death announcements made in the same publication:

After a brave, defiant fight with (disease,) surrounded by her loving family and carers at (location), (name of deceased again) aged XX. To a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, friend and colleague – our lives will never be the same without you. Funeral etc….(arrangements do need to be factual and concise.)

At a time like this you won’t be at your strongest, emotionally, but don’t let convention intimidate you if you don’t want to let it. Make sure your loved one’s death announcement is a) what you want it to say, b) what your loved one would have appreciated most and c) what your loved one’s friends and family need to know so they can pay their last respects appropriately.

Good luck and be strong.


While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family – from just $2.50

photo credit: OliBac via photopin cc




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