How to Announce a Death in the Family
When a death occurs, you usually want to notify as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. While there are many ways to announce a death in the family, it’s almost always a good idea to have some sort of notice posted online, usually with a memorial website. At the same time, many families encounter older family members who don’t use the internet, people who would’ve preferred a handwritten note, or those who prefer to get their news through a phone call. It’s a good idea to announce a death through multiple avenues to ensure you’re covering all your bases so that everyone knows a death has occurred.
How to tell someone about a death in the family
There are no easy ways to tell someone about a death in the family. However, there are some steps that can make it easier for both parties. Here’s how to tell someone about a death in the family:
Take your time and plan what you will say. It’s important to be clear and direct, while also being understanding of the mixed emotions or unexpected reactions you may receive from a loved one on hearing this news.
Choose a comfortable setting. If possible, try to have the conversation in a place where you both feel safe and relaxed, such as at home or in a private room.
Speak slowly and carefully. Take your time when delivering the news so that it is clear and understandable for everyone involved.
Be prepared to answer questions and provide assistance. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to offer additional resources or help with funeral arrangements, so come prepared, especially if you're part of the family or are open to assisting.
Remember that if you're breaking the news to someone else, they've most likely not had a chance to prepare, especially if the death is unexpected. This can be difficult if you are also dealing with your own emotions in the situation, so make sure you have support for yourself when sharing this news.
Give yourself time to process your own emotions afterward. It is important to take care of yourself after having a difficult conversation like this, so don’t feel guilty about taking some time for self-care.
Unfortunately, there isn't a perfect template when it comes to the subject of how to announce a death. The announcement of a death is personal and the news will have varying effects on the people who are hearing it, depending on their relationship to the deceased.
Try to tell immediate family members in person
One important thing to note when it comes to how to announce a death of a family member is to consider to who you're reporting the death. If you're announcing the death of a family member, it's generally best practice to tell those close to the deceased or immediate family members in person.
Learning about death via someone posting about the death on social media is shocking, especially for immediate family members, even if they're estranged. If possible, try to avoid having people who are immediate family members from finding out this terrible news through a Facebook death announcement -- it helps to see if they'd be willing to meet in person, or if they'd be willing to get on a call for a few minutes so you can break the news.
Call those close to the deceased
If you can’t see them in person, it’s recommended that you notify those close to the deceased by making a phone call. Those who are close to the person who passed away will likely not want to find out by mail or through other means and would prefer to be alerted immediately. Making a phone call to announce a death can be difficult, but it’s the preferred method for those closest to the deceased.
Text those you can't call
If you're unable to call someone, you can also send a text message with the news. This could be a good option if you want someone to be notified immediately, but they're not answering their phone or are unavailable, or have a tendency to ignore calls. If you're not sure how to inform someone of a death by sms, here's a brief example of how to inform someone of a death by text:
"I'm so sorry to let you know that ____ has passed away. I tried to call you to share this news with you, please call me as soon as you can so we can talk about this."
When it comes to how to announce a death, understanding the sensitivities of each person is key. Be thoughtful about your choice of words, and be prepared for any response you might receive.
Make a death announcement using a memorial website
Creating a memorial website is an easy and quick way to let others know that a death has occurred. Memorial websites are posted on Google and other major search engines within a few days of being created, making it easy for others to search online to find the obituary. Additionally, you can copy the link to share it via email or text or post the page directly to your Facebook timeline. Those who visit your memorial website will be able to sign up for notifications, learn more about upcoming events, post their condolences and memories, donate to your fundraiser, connect with your community and more.
Announce someone’s death on Facebook (and other social media sites)
Making a heartfelt death announcement on your personal social media can feel personal, but it’s one of the most effective places you can post a death announcement. Announcing a death on your social media immediately everyone on your friends list and in your social network. It also gives them the option to easily share the post with others, which easily and quickly expands your reach. Posting a death announcement on Facebook also means that people who aren’t your immediate friends or family (such as your friends’ friends, for example) will be able to see the post and share the news through their own connections, helping to reach all those who knew the person who passedt. You’ll want to be sure to include the link to your memorial website in your Facebook posts so that folks know where to go for more information. If you’re struggling with the right wording, read this article on How to Announce a Death on Facebook.
Consider sharing the website with organizations
If you're announcing a death and are part of any type of community organization or religious organization, consider asking them to share the news. Many churches and other religious facilities have church bulletins where they can share death announcements or service information. If you've never had to post a death announcement and are looking for proper wording or a template, feel free to review these examples for creating a Facebook death announcement.
How to write a death announcement
Writing a death or funeral announcement is difficult -- it's not easy to know how to inform someone of a death in writing, especially when the death is unexpected or sudden. The key is to plan ahead and know exactly what information you want to include in your announcement. You’ll generally want to give information about who, when and where the deceased person passed away, as well as any funeral arrangements or memorial service details that will follow. If you don't have information on events, it's good to pre-empt these questions by stating this in the death announcement.
If you're posting about the death on social media, or are just unsure how to announce the death of a family member or friend, here are some general guidelines to follow:
Try to keep the death announcement shorter so you can properly highlight relevant information. Posting about death on social media is difficult and it can sometimes be a place to vent or share your feelings, but people are often in search of answers when they learn of a death. You can always take extra time to write out formal death announcement cards or death notification letters to friends and family, but if you've just learned of a death and want to share it on social media, try to keep the message shorter. Share the most important details, which typically include: the cause of death (if it was sudden and you're comfortable sharing this), whether or not services will be held, the location and time when services will take place, where people can donate (if desired) and how they can help. Share contact information or best ways to reach important people if anyone has any questions.
Here are some heartfelt death announcement examples and templates to use when announcing a death on social media:
Our wonderful [sister/mother/brother/father/relation] passed away a few days ago after a short battle with [illness or cause of death description]. We are holding services for [name] at [location] on [date] at [time]. Everyone is welcome to join us in celebrating [name]’s beautiful and inspiring life. You can RSVP here: [link to website]+
Relevant death announcement quotes or passages
To my friends and family, I am writing this post with great difficulty. [Full name], age [age] passed away on [date]. Always the first to [make a joke/make people laugh/other attribute], [first name] filled everyone’s life around [him/her] with [love/joy/positivity/description]. While we knew [first name] was close to the end, nothing can prepare you for the death of a loved one. We ask those close to us to share their favorite photos and post their favorite memories of [first name], here: [link to website]
[Full name], age [age], has passed away after a brief battle with [illness]. We welcome any and all who would like to attend [name]’s funeral, which is still being planned. [Full name] was incredibly active in our community and [his/her] loss will be deeply felt. We would love to see any photos and hear about any memories you shared with [name]. Please feel free to share these on the memorial website we set up: [link]
This is a really difficult post for me to share, but I want to make sure the word gets out. On [date], my family lost [our father/mother/parent/relationship] after an unexpected illness. We are struggling to cover the expenses related to the funeral and could use some help. [Name] touched the lives of so many people around [him/her] and our family wants to give [him/her] a service that reflects that. If you’re not able to help financially, please don’t hesitate to check out [his/her] memorial website and share some of your favorite photos. Thank you to all.
[Full name] passed away on [date] from injuries sustained due to a [accident description]. Since [name] was so young, we are obviously financially unprepared for this loss and the costs associated with it. Our family wants to give [first name] a memorial [he/she] deserved and needs help to do this. If you’re able to, we would greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to help us with this goal. You can donate at our memorial fundraiser, here: [link to fundraiser] If you’re not able to donate, we hope that you will still share some of your favorite photos or memories from times you spent with [name].
Friends and family -- I'm writing today to inform you of the passing of [Full Name]. [Name] was only [age] years old and passed away unexpectedly after a [cause of death]. Our family asks for privacy during our time of grief, but does want to let everyone know that plans are being made for a celebration of life. Please keep in touch and in the loop at the memorial website we've set up here: [link]
Send a death announcement by email
Sending a death announcement email is an efficient and quick way to let people in your circle know that a death has occurred. Email is a great alternative to those who don’t feel comfortable sharing the story on their social media or for those who have a lot of older relatives and friends that aren’t on social media. Even if you’ve already shared your death announcement on social media and through other means, sending a death announcement by email can help you ensure you’ve covered all your bases. Email is also a great choice when it comes to how to tell someone about a death in the family who you're not on direct speaking terms with, or who you don't feel comfortable with having your phone number. These templates will also help those who aren't sure how to inform someone of a death in writing and can be altered to fit your needs. Be sure to check out this article on How to Inform Someone of a Death by Email.
Here are some death announcement samples to use when announcing a death through email:
Subject: [Name], age [age], has passed away
Message: To our loved ones, we are regretfully announcing the passing of [full name] who took [his/her] last breath on [date]. [First name] was the strength in our family and community and their passing is completely unexpected. [First name] wanted [his/her] to be cremated and wished to have their ashes scattered at [location], so we will be holding an ash scattering ceremony in the coming weeks. Please visit the memorial website we’ve set up for [him/her] to stay in the loop on upcoming event information. Our family would also love to see any and all memories, photos, and stories you have of [first name], so feel free to contribute.
Subject: The [last name]’s announce the passing of [full name]
Message: On [date], we lost our beloved [first name] after [he/she] succumbed to injuries sustained in [description of accident]. Our family would love to see those who [first name] loved most gather to celebrate [his/her] amazing life. We will be hosting the celebration of life at [location] on [date] at [time]. Please RSVP at our memorial website, which you can find here: [link]
Subject: [full name] has passed away
Message: We are deeply saddened to announce the loss of [full name], who unexpectedly passed away after [an accident/a brief illness/description]. We want to honor their incredible life by inviting everyone to our home for an intimate celebration of [name]’s life. We’re still working out the details for this event, but will keep you up to date along the way. Please visit our memorial website to stay up to date on event information and to share your memories of [name]: [link to memorial website]
Subject: [name], age [age], has passed away
Message: We regretfully announce the passing of [full name] on [date]. We would be honored if you helped us memorialize [first name]’s life by joining us in a memorial service on [date] at [time]. We ask that you come prepared to share your favorite memories of [name]. There will be a lantern release in [first name]’s honor near the end of the ceremony, around [time]. Please visit our memorial website to keep up to date on funeral event information and to share your memories and photos of [first name].
Subject: Our bright and shining star, [Full name], has passed away at the age of [age]
Message: To all, it’s with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of [full name]. [Full name] passed away on [date] at [time] surrounded by [his/her] loved ones. [First name] requested a private family service, which we are honoring. In lieu of flowers, we request that donations be made to [cause] in [name]’s honor. Please join us in remembering [first name] by posting to [his/her] memorial website with your most cherished memories and photos. You can find the memorial website here: [link to website]
Subject: Friends and family, we announce that [Name] has passed away
Message: To all, it’s with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of [full name]. [Full name] passed away after [cause of death] on [date] at the age of [age]. Loved by all, cherished by many, [Name] will be dearly missed. Please note that we are still gathering information and putting plans together to honor [Name]'s life. To stay updated on event plans, please visit the memorial website here: [link]
Make a death announcement by mail
Similarly to sending an email, sending a death announcement by mail can help ensure you’re including those who may not be as online as others in your circle might be. When sending a death announcement card, you’ll want to include similar information as you would in a post as well as a link to any memorial website you’ve set up.
Here are some death announcement templates when sending a death announcement by card:
As you may have heard by now, [name] passed away on [date] after [cause of death]. Our family wasn’t expecting this and we are struggling to cover funeral costs. We’re asking for any help in getting these costs covered, but completely understand if you’re not able to contribute. We have set up a memorial fundraiser for [name], which you can find here: [link to memorial website] If you can’t make a donation, please consider leaving a photo or favorite memory you had with [name].
Today, [date] at [time], we lost [name] after [accident/cause of death]. [Name] was only [age], so we weren’t expecting this at all. We are planning a [funeral/memorial/celebration of life], but do not have the exact time and date nailed down. Please subscribe to the memorial website we set up for [name] so that you can stay up to date regarding our upcoming events. We will be requesting RSVPs once the event is up so that we have a general idea of how many to expect. You can find the site here: [link]
All our love,
The [last name] Family
It’s difficult for me to write this, but I thought everyone should know that [full name] passed away [today/yesterday/date] after [cause of death]. [He/she] was surrounded by [his/her] loving family and knew that the end was coming, but we are still not prepared for the emotional toll this has taken. You can view [name]’s obituary and other information on the memorial website we set up for [him/her], here: [link]
Dear friends and family,
On [date], we unexpectedly lost our [father/mother/grandmother/grandfather/relation] after an accident. Our family wasn’t prepared for this financially and we are reaching out to our community for support. We’ve set up a fundraiser to cover the total cost of the funeral expenses, [amount]. You can contribute or leave condolences here: [link]
All our love,
The [last name] Family
Our beloved [relation] passed away today at the age of [age]. [Name] has been battling [illness] for [number] years as most of you know. We are raising donations for [name]’s favorite charity, [charity name] on the memorial website we’ve set up for [him/her]. This charity was incredibly important to [name] and we’d be honored to have our community support them. You can find a link to the memorial website here: [link]
So much love,
Announce a death through the newspaper
Newspapers used to be the primary place where people would make a death announcement. It was a good way to alert those in your community that a death has occurred and to make sure that all those in the area knew the funeral event details and where to send flowers, if desired. Now that families and community members have spread out (and we’re all connected through the internet), a newspaper announcement has relatively small reach, depending on your community. Many people don’t go to physical papers as their source of information and instead look for online sources. The good news is that many papers have online versions of their physical prints and will include the death notice or death announcement in their online version, usually at a price.
When making a death announcement through the paper, you’ll need to keep in mind the steep price and the low character count you’re usually afforded. Since most papers charge by the line, you should expect to budget a couple hundred dollars for a short obituary printed in the newspaper, especially if you’d like to include a photo. You should also include the link to your Ever Loved memorial website somewhere in the death announcement in the paper so that folks know where they can go to learn more about event details and the person who passed away. If you’re interested in posting a death announcement in the paper, check out this article on how to get yours submitted to your local paper.
Here is some death announcement wording to use when sending a death announcement through the newspaper:
[Full name], [age], of [place of residence], passed away on [date of death] from [cause of death].
[First name] was predeceased by [list of family members who have passed away]. [She/He] is survived by [list of family members who are still alive]. Services will be organized by [funeral home name] and held at [location] on [date] at [time].
[Full name], [age], of [place of residence], left us, surrounded by [his/her] friends and family on [date of death] from [cause of death].
[First name] was predeceased by [list of family members who have passed away]. [She/He] is survived by [list of family members who are still alive]. Services will be held at [time] on [date] at [location]. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to our charitable fundraiser here: [link]
This [date of death], [first name] took [his/her] final breath, surrounded by [his/her] loved ones. The sun rose and the world welcomed [first name] on [date of birth], a day the world became a little brighter. [First name] lived a full and loving life, filled with [joy/happiness/kindness]. [He/she] will be always remembered. No services will be held, as [name] requested.
We mournfully announce the passing of [Full name], who passed away surrounded by [his/her] loved ones on [date of death]. [First name] had a long battle with [illness] and is finally at rest. [He/She] will be forever loved and remembered. No services will take place, as [First name] requested. Please visit our memorial website for more information: [link]
On [date], our [father/mother/relation], [name] passed away into God’s graces after a brief [illness/description of cause of death]. A strong minded individual throughout life, [he/she] was [age] years old. [She/he] is survived by many loving family members, including [list of surviving relatives]. [She/he] was predeceased by [list of predeceased relatives]. A celebration of life will be held at [location] on [date] at [time]. Please RSVP here: [link to website]
No matter where you decide to make your death announcement, you’ll need to put some time and thought into considering how you’ll word it. You’ll want to keep in mind the length of your death announcement, especially if you're publishing it primarily in a paper, where it’ll likely need to be much shorter. Whichever method you choose to make your announcement, having a memorial website set up prior will make things a lot easier. You can get started with a memorial website here.