A funeral program is one of the best ways to honor the deceased by letting everyone know how amazing they were during their life. You should focus on making this paper as perfect as possible since it will be an important memento cherished by the whole family for a long time.
Don’t have an idea about writing an obituary? No problem. You’d be happy to know that writing a funeral program can be a breeze—all you have to do is follow the simple steps in this article.
With that being said, let’s get right into it.
Step 1: Write a List of the Closest People to the Deceased
List the people closest to the deceased and write their contact information. Make sure these individuals are from different stages of the deceased’s life to ensure you get a full picture. These individuals will have the best knowledge and tales about the various phases of your loved one’s life.
However, don’t be tempted to talk to many people. Only 4-5 individuals would be enough to gather the necessary information. This way, you can avoid getting too much information or repetitive tales.
For example, including one coworker who knows much about the deceased is enough to provide sufficient information about this aspect of their life. Make sure to include younger individuals on the list (e.g., grandchildren) to add some heartwarming stories to the obituary.
Step 2: Create a List of the Most Important Points
Make a template with all the necessary details listed in it. This will serve as the framework for your obituary. Here are some important points to include in your list:
- Date of birth
- Location of birth
- Date of death
- Cause of death
- Full names of spouses and kids.
- Full names of the deceased’s parents and relatives who passed away before them.
- The work of the deceased—what they did, where they worked, and how long.
- The education of the deceased—did they earn any degrees or diplomas? If yes, in what year?
- Special achievements of the deceased.
- Clubs or organizations that were significant in the deceased’s life—did they publish any book? Did they win any prizes? Did they hold public office? Did they serve in the military? And were they decorated?
Step 3: Collect Information
Now it’s time to gather information by conversing with the people who had a close relationship with your loved one. You can save time and energy by meeting with multiple individuals. This doesn’t just help you generate better ideas; you can also find warmth and comfort in talking about your loved ones with a group of people who truly care about them.
Ask them to help fill the gaps in your loved one’s life story. You can also let them see your template and ask them to provide the information they know. Even better, you can brainstorm and try to find new points to add to the template.
Don’t forget to gather heartwarming anecdotes—there’s room in the funeral program obituary for multiple anecdotes that best describe your loved one. So you want to pay attention to the stories you hear about your loved one and take notes of them.
You also want to include stories highlighting important aspects of your loved one’s life. For example, if your loved one loved animals and used to help them during their life, you can include a story that best highlights their love for animals.
Step 4: Ensure You Have the Correct Information
For example, if the deceased’s father says that they graduated from high school in 1954, but the mother believes they did so in 1955, you can contact the high school the deceased graduated from and ask them to provide you with this information. You can also find out the years of birth and marriage by calling the vital records offices in the city of the deceased. This is an important step you shouldn’t skip if you want to present accurate information about your loved one.
If you still can’t find the correct information after extensive research, you can always put it vaguely or even omit it. For example, you could mention that the deceased graduated from high school in the early 1950s instead of specifying a year, which may help you avoid any possible conflict that the obituary could cause between family members or friends.
Step 5: Write Details about Birth and Death
Once you gather the necessary information, it’s time to draft the obituary. Write the name, dates of birth and death, and cause of death of your loved one—any obituary usually starts with these details.
Going into detail about the cause of death may not be appropriate, so make sure to mention this briefly and respectfully. You could say, for example, that your loved one passed away suddenly after a long illness.
The next paragraph you should write is about the place of birth of your loved one. You also want to write the parents’ names and dates of birth. Finally, mention any important, early moves in the deceased’s life. You could say, for example, that although they were born in Italy, they emigrated to the US with their parents at an early age.
Step 6: Write Details about Education
Next, you want to discuss the deceased’s education in a paragraph. Mention the schools they attended and the degrees they earned. You’re free to add significant elements from your loved one’s life story in this paragraph. For example, why does your loved one major in political science instead of economics.
Step 7: Write Details about the Adult Life of the Deceased
Since this is one of the most important sections in the obituary, you want to focus on including as many meaningful details as possible about the adult life of your loved one. This section is important to the people who attend the funeral and is usually the most meaningful one to them.
You can start by providing details about the most important aspects of the deceased’s life, such as their work, relatives, pets, and hobbies. For instance, if their greatest achievement was working at Google, you may want to devote several paragraphs outlining how they acquired the required skills. It’s also possible to write a biography of your loved one.
There’s also some room for humor in an obituary. If your loved one enjoyed dad jokes, for example, you can include some of their funniest jokes.
Step 8: Write Details about Close Relatives
Now, write a list of your loved one’s relatives. The names of the survivors and the relatives who predeceased the deceased should be listed.
Describe how the deceased was preceded in death by relatives who have already passed away. Then, state that the living relatives survive the deceased (or the deceased is survived by the relatives who are still living).
It’s also customary to mention the towns or cities or towns where the living relatives currently live.
Step 9: Write Details about Funeral Arrangements
The last paragraph in the obituary should include details about funeral arrangements. You want to mention the location where your loved one will be buried. Even though you may find details about the funeral service and visiting hours in the newspaper version of the obituary, the program obituary is usually simpler. It only includes details about the final resting place of the deceased.
Step 10: Write a Thank-you Sentence
Finally, the obituary should be ended with a beautiful sentence of thanks. You can express gratitude to anyone who helped in your loved one’s final days. Some people also thank the funeral home workers for their efforts at the funeral of their loved ones.
Step 11: Put the Final Touches
The number of pages is the first thing you want to pay attention to when you put the final touches. While the newspaper version of the obituary is typically shorter than a funeral program obituary, your obituary shouldn’t run to more than one page.
Even though it’s customary to include a formal picture of the deceased on the first page or the front of the program, you should get some other photographs that capture the life of your loved one. You may, for instance, include a picture of your loved one doing something they were passionate about, like a hobby or a certain sport. You can get these from your loved one’s friends or those who have a close relationship with them.
Having other people read the draft over and ask them for feedback is also important. You want them to examine the facts a second time and look for any errors or typos. The more people they can do this task for you, the better—this helps you develop a perfect version of the funeral program.
That’s it! Now you have the necessary knowledge to write the best funeral program for your loved one. This is the least you could do to honor their departed, pure soul and let everyone know about the beautiful life they had.