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How to Write an Obituary for Someone with a Blended Family

When a family is blended, it can be difficult to know how to write an obituary that accurately reflects the deceased person's life and relationships. With blended families, there are often multiple relationships that need to be considered. If you’re in charge of writing an obituary, here are some tips on how to describe and incorporate a blended family.

Obituary etiquette: Who to include

When writing an obituary, it is important to be mindful of surviving relatives and predeceased relatives. There's a standard order for these names to be listed (though you do not have to follow this order if it doesn't feel right to you). Typically, surviving and predeceased family members are listed in the following order:

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Parents
  4. Extended family
  5. Close friends
  6. Pets

These sections are typically separated into two different sections. Here's an example below:

Alexei is survived by his wife, Marie; children, Sam and Theo; his father, Alexander; his grandchildren, Mona and Kerren; and many loving uncles, aunts, and friends. He is predeceased by his mother, Chloe; brother, Chris; and best friend; Johnny.

In general, it's appropriate to include anyone who was important to the deceased or a part of the family.

It's not necessary to list out the name of every individual extended relative, especially if you have a relatively large family.

How to describe a blended family in the obituary

Blended families are becoming increasingly more common, and there's no one right way to describe them in an obituary.

Step-parents and step-children

You may want to simply list out the different family members and their relationship to the deceased. For example:

Marie is survived by her husband, Alexei; step-children, Sam and Theo; father, Alexander; grandchildren, Mona and Kerren; and many loving uncles, aunts, and friends.

If you want to provide more context about the blended family, you may want to write a brief sentence or two about how the family came to be blended. It's also not necessary to refer to children or parents as "step-children" or "step-parents", especially if that doesn't feel right for you as a family. For example:

Marie is survived by her husband, Alexei; children, Sam and Theo; father, Alexander; grandchildren, Mona and Kerren; and many loving uncles, aunts, and friends. Marie and Alexei were married for 10 years and blended their families when they got married.

If you want to focus more on the relationship between the deceased and their step-children or blended family, you may want to write about how they formed their bond. For example:

Marie is survived by her husband, Alexei; children, Sam and Theo; father, Alexander; grandchildren, Mona and Kerren; and many loving uncles, aunts, and friends. Marie was a wonderful step-mother and was loved dearly by her step-children, Sam and Theo.

Adoptive parents and children

If the deceased was an adoptive parent or adopted child, you may want to include that information in the obituary. You can write about how the adoption came to be and how the deceased felt about it. For example:

Marie is survived by her husband, Alexei; children, Sam and Theo; father, Alexander; grandchildren, Mona and Kerren; and many loving uncles, aunts, and friends. Marie and Alexei adopted Sam and Theo after their own children passed away. They loved them both dearly and were so grateful to have them in their lives.

If the adoption was not public knowledge, it's not necessary that you reveal this information in the obituary.

In general, it's not necessary to distinguish between "blood relatives" and "non-biological relatives" in an obituary, unless you feel that it's important to the individual's story or it's something that feels necessary to include.

How to write about a divorce in an obituary

Divorce is much more common and acceptable these days than it was in the past. If the deceased was divorced, it can be worth it to include this information in the obituary, especially if they were close afterwards or had children. The obituary should list the names of the ex-spouses as well as any children from those marriages. It is not necessary to go into detail about why the marriage ended and there are ways to communicate the split without specifically using the word "divorce". Here are some ways to reference the divorce creatively:

  • [Name] and former spouse, [Spouse's Name] had [number] children together who they adored.
  • Though this relationship wasn't permanent, they did have [number] children together and remained friends afterwards.
  • While both went on to remarry, [Name and Spouse's Name] remained in touch throughout their lives.

If the divorce was acrimonious, remember that it's not necessary to list out the former spouse's name.

This is simply a matter of personal preference and is up to the obituary writer or the family.

How to refer to an unmarried partner in obituary

There are a few ways to refer to an unmarried partner in the obituary, depending on the relationship status at the time of death and the personal preference of the family. If the couple was not married but were in a long-term, committed relationship, they may be referred to as "partner", "significant other", or "companion".

This is also a moment to use some of the language that the deceased favored. For example, if they had a nickname or preferred term for their partner (for example, "sweetie", "first mate", "soulmate"), it can be a sweet way to show some of their personality in the obituary. If the deceased was a younger individual or someone who was in a committed but newer relationship, it's proper obituary etiquette to use the terms "boyfriend" and "girlfriend".

How to list deceased spouse in obituary

When listing a deceased spouse in an obituary, it is important to be mindful of the date of death as well as any subsequent marriages. If the spouse passed away before the individual who is being memorialized, they will typically be referred to as the "late" or "beloved" wife/husband/partner. It is also common to list the date of their passing. For example:

Mary is survived by her husband of 4 years, John; children, Jane and Joe; and grandchildren, Steven and Melissa. She is preceded in death by her beloved wife, Karen (d. 2012).

If the spouse passed away after the individual who is being memorialized, they are generally referred to as the "widow" or "widower".

It's also important to note any subsequent marriages. If the individual being memorialized was married more than once, it is appropriate to list all spouses in the obituary. The order usually goes: current spouse, deceased spouse, and then any other spouses in chronological order. If the individual was not married at the time of their death but had been previously married, it is appropriate (but not necessary) to list their former spouses in the obituary. Here is an example:

John is survived by his current wife, Stephanie; children from his first marriage, Karen and Mark; and grandchildren, Emily and Brian. He is preceded in death by his second wife, Joan (d. 2010) and his first wife, Margaret (d. 2001).

Is it okay if some family is left out of an obituary?

It is not uncommon for there to be some estranged family members or individuals who you do not want to list in the obituary due to their strained relationship with the deceased. Additionally, depending on the relationship the deceased had with certain individuals, it may not even be appropriate to include certain family members in an obituary. It's perfectly acceptable to leave out anyone who you do not want to include in the obituary.

Publishing an obituary doesn’t have to be difficult. You can easily publish a free obituary on Ever Loved and gain access to tons of templates to get you started. Ever Loved obituaries also come with a section to upload photos, leave condolences, collect donations, include a timeline of someone’s life, and much more.

Get started

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Last updated August 25, 2022
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