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When to Publish an Obituary

When someone passes away, there are several steps that are usually taken before they can be laid to rest; notifying family members and friends about the person's death is one of those tasks. Publishing an obituary formally announces the person’s death, tells their life story, and shares key funeral information. Let's start with some common questions regarding publishing an obituary.

How soon should you post an obituary?

After someone dies, posting an obituary as soon as possible can provide a sense of closure for those left behind and give people important information regarding services. Once the death has been confirmed, you can post an obituary as soon as you’re ready. Waiting too long to post an obituary could mean that family members and friends miss out on receiving support from their community during a difficult time and could prevent them from being able to make it to any funeral or memorial services. In general, if you don’t know when to post an obituary, post it as soon as you have it written or are ready to share information on services.

If you're posting an obituary in the newspaper, it may take some time for them to verify all the required information and get it published, so it's a good idea to post an obituary online as soon as the death occurs, even if you plan on posting one in the paper later.

How long does it take for an obituary to appear?

When posting an obituary online, the obituary will usually appear immediately (or as soon as you hit publish). On Ever Loved, your obituary is published as soon as you hit ‘Create website’. If you’re publishing an obituary in the newspaper, the obituary will be published on the days you state you’d like it published, provided it is paid for in full and verified prior to publication.

I need to share service information, but don't have the obituary ready yet. What should I do?

It's possible you find yourself in a position where you have the funeral or memorial service details pinned down, but haven't had the time to write out an obituary yet. This is a normal situation to find yourself in and there is no need to panic. You have the option of writing a short announcement that includes the important information, not all of the details. These short announcements are often referred to as “death notices” and can be published on the same page where you would normally post an obituary.

Death notices can be useful in getting important service information out, quickly, without needing to include all the information you'd normally see in an obituary. Creating a memorial website before doing anything else will make it so that you can update your memorial website with information as it comes in. There’s no need to have all the information at the start, but it gives folks a place to regularly check for updates. You can also post death notices online and in newspapers, though it's highly recommended that you always post a death notice (and an obituary) online, even if you decide to publish in the newspaper as well.

Can I post an obituary a long time after someone passes away?

You can absolutely post an obituarya long time after someone passes away. Sometimes, people have a different sense of how long to wait before posting an obituary because they feel it isn't respectful to do so too soon after a death. However, how long you wait is a personal decision and there are no real rules as to how long you should wait. Even if someone passed away 20+ years ago, posting an obituary is completely acceptable and is a great way to share important details about their life with those who may be uninformed. Even if a newspaper isn’t willing to publish or post an older obituary, you can always post one online for folks to visit and learn about the life of a loved one.

Why do people publish obituaries a long time after someone passes?

There are many reasons why a family or individual might post an obituary for someone who passed away a long time ago. It's possible that the family overlooked publishing an obituary, there wasn't anyone who felt confident enough to write one, or it simply wasn't deemed necessary. There can be many reasons why it didn't happen in the past, but if you feel like publishing an obituary in the present, don't be afraid to! Obituaries are an excellent way to share the details and content of someone's life with anyone who is interested, no matter how long ago the person passed.

Are obituaries free?

Online obituaries can be free, but aren't always. If you post an obituary on Ever Loved, you can expect a free online obituary that stays up as long as you'd like it to. The online obituary also comes with many other features that you'll find useful, like the ability to collect RSVPs, share and collect memories, and collect donations toward your chosen cause.

If you're posting an obituary in your local newspaper, you should expect to spend a couple hundred dollars. The price will vary depending on how long the obituary is and how much space you're taking up. Don't be afraid to shop around for rates, even if it's just to get an idea of how much different newspapers charge for their services.

Keep in mind that obituaries posted in the paper will usually charge you by the line, with some having a minimum charge associated with them. This means your obituary should be relatively short, especially if you're not in a position to spend a lot of money on just the obituary. You can always post a shorter obituary in the newspaper and a longer obituary on Ever Loved to save money.

Where should I post an obituary?

It's recommended that you post an obituary online for a few reasons. Online obituaries posted on Ever Loved come with:

  • Easy accessibility
  • Quick set up and posting time
  • Additional features of your chosen memorial website
  • The ability to edit or add to the obituary at any time
  • The ability to include multiple photos
  • The ability to quickly share important event information and message attendees
  • Fundraising capabilities

You can also post an obituary in the newspaper, which is a good option for those with a little more cash to spare and for those who may have some sentimental attachments to having an obituary posted in the paper.

What should be included in the obituary?

An obituary generally includes the following information:

  • The person's full name
  • Their birth date and their date of death
  • Where the person was born
  • Where the person made their home
  • Information about their career, their education, and their family
  • Information about their hobbies, passions, and pursuits
  • Description of the type of person they were and some important character traits
  • How the person passed away (if you want to share this information)
  • Where the services will be held and when
  • Where flowers can be sent, if desired
  • Where donations can be made, if desired

A standard, short obituary that you'd find in a newspaper usually looks like this:

[Full name], [age], of [place of residence], passed away on [date of death] from [cause of death]. [Full name] was a [title of occupation] for [number] years and was a loving [father/mother] of [number of kids]. [He/she] will be forever missed and remembered.

[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].

For a full list of obituary templates, check out this article. If you'd like to see some examples of excellent obituaries that have been posted by people on Ever Loved, read this list of examples.

General obituary etiquette

Writing an obituary doesn't have to be a massive headache, but knowing what to include when it comes to personal information can be cause for a bit of family drama. Below are some common issues you may run into when writing an obituary and deciding what to include.

Listing the cause of death

Letting readers know how the individual passed away is a contentious subject. Is it too morbid to share? Is it invading the individual's privacy? What if it's embarrassing? Listing the cause of death in an obituary can let those close to the person know what happened and can be especially important if they died young or unexpectedly. It can also help those who weren't aware of a terminal illness or other chronic problem the individual may have been struggling with.

At the same time, it may feel inappropriate to you or your family to include this type of information in the obituary, so you shouldn't be pressured to do so. It should be mentioned, however, that if the death is unexpected and the cause of death isn't publicly shared, you may want to prepare yourself for some questions from inquiring minds.

Listing the person's age

Including the individual's age is pretty standard fare when it comes to an obituary and is generally included in a standard obituary. Listing the age gives context to those reading and useful information they may not have been aware of.

Listing the survivors and the predeceased family

Listing the individual's predeceased and surviving family is also a common section of an obituary. When listing out family members, it's common obituary practice to follow the following order:

  1. The individual's spouse
  2. Their children and the names of their children's spouses, if applicable
  3. The parent of the child if it's not the spouse, if applicable or desired
  4. The parents of the deceased
  5. Any important extended family of the deceased
  6. Close friends
  7. Pets, if desired

It's not required that you include all of this information in the obituary, but including at least the name of the spouse and children is fairly typical. On an Ever Loved memorial website, you can enter in all of the information about the surviving family members and the predeceased family in an entirely different section, so that survivors are easier to see and the obituary can stay focused on the story of the person’s life.

Publishing information on the funeral

If there is information to share and the services are open to those reading, including the location, time, and date of the services is important and useful. If the services are going to be private or for a limited number of individuals, you can still let those reading the obituary know this by stating it in the obituary. It's common to see something along the lines of, "Services will be held privately" or "Services will be held for immediate family," as a statement in the obituary.

Ready to publish an obituary? Get started by posting one on a memorial website. Memorial websites let you publish obituaries, collect RSVPs and share event info, and much, much more. They're also entirely free, which can help you save hundreds of dollars.

Get started

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Last updated July 6, 2022
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