Obituaries and Death Notices


There's a lot talk on the internet today about an unusual and funny obituary. Here's a link to the funeral home's website that posted this obituary.

Many people write their own obituary. This is a good idea if you want to be sure that it includes everything you want and that it's worded exactly as you wish. 

Sometimes family members write the obituary and sometimes the funeral director composes it with the family’s help. 

Many newspapers now have a place on their website where you can submit the obituary and a photo. In many cases, it gives you a price at that time and will allow you to delete or add wording if you want to change the price. They will then contact you with any questions and they will also contact the funeral home to confirm the person’s death.  

What's the difference?

There are two terms used to describe the newspaper notice  - obituaries and death notices. These two terms do not mean the same thing to all newspapers. The differences are listed below along with examples. 

Look at your local paper for examples

The following list is what most papers use but feel free to add or delete information based on your own preferences.

name, age, date of death, place of death, place of birth, parents’ names (not necessary if deceased for a long time), occupation, place of work, other pertinent information, accomplishments, organizations and affiliations, personal interests or hobbies, meaningful attributes, survivors, service times, place, cemetery or other appropriate information, organization for memorial contributions

Whatever your local newspaper format is, you probably will have some freedom in the wording to make it read smoothly as shown in the examples below.  




Besides what's listed above, you may want to include additional information. This example includes some details that will help readers who may have known your loved one but just not by name. 

John loved having breakfast with his friends at Joey’s Diner. He said he always sat the front table because he wanted to make sure everyone who came in was greeted with a smile.

This example shows other significant information of an event that was in the news: 

Mary Johnson, 48, died Sat., February 1, a victim of the 5-car pileup on Rt. 3. 


   Don’t forget about other places to put obituaries. There are specialized periodicals or internet sites that print obituaries. This may be an alumni magazine or newspaper for school or college alumni or even for military groups. There are employers and unions that post obituaries for their members in their newsletters and magazines. Don’t forget to include a photo! These are just a few examples but there are many other types of groups that have newsletters, websites, magazines or newspapers. 

For additional examples and templates that you can download, we will adding them here soon. 



Obituary – This is a description of the person’s life including name, age, date of death, education, organizations, employment, family members, funeral service information, name of cemetery, contributions, and any other information.

 Newspapers in different cities handle obituaries in different ways. It could be any of these, but keep in mind that some larger newspapers do not accept obituaries and run only death notices, as mentioned down a couple paragraphs. There are three different ways that newspapers handle obituaries - 

  • free of charge; 
  • the same charge for any obituary of average length, or
  •  charged by the line. 

You can include a photo but some papers may charge extra for that. Most papers will now include a symbol if the person was a member of an organization. Although there is a charge for symbols,  most newspapers will not charge for the American flag out of respect for that veteran’s service to our country. 

In larger newspapers, such as the New York Times or Boston Globe, space is limited so obituaries only appear for those who are prominent in that area or are well-known. In those cases, there is a reporter on their staff who only writes obituaries and will contact you for information and a photo unless they have one from earlier news stories in which the person was featured. If you live in one of those areas and the newspaper is not going to write an obituary, all the information normally contained in an obituary will be printed as a death notice (see the example below)  

Death Notices


Death notice - In larger newspapers where an obituary is not printed unless under the previously known conditions, the family usually pays for a death notice similar to the one listed below. The charge is by the line and varies for different papers. In smaller cities where the newspaper runs an obituary for everyone, the death notice is only three or four lines long and lists only the service information. In this case, it often is run at no charge. If a picture is placed in the notice, there is an additional charge. Some newspapers have a variety of symbols that can also be placed in the notice, such as a flag, angel, praying hands, clover or other symbol. Many papers will insert a flag in a veteran’s notice at no cost out of respect for their service to this country. 

Yet other newspapers, like the New York Times, publish not only obituaries and death notices, but notices from the public to express their condolences in someone’s passing, such as an employer, organization or group to which the deceased had some affiliation. An example of this using the death notice information below would read like this:

    HART, John The Longmeadow Country Club wishes to express our most sincere condolences to the family of John Hart. His easy smile and eagerness to help his fellow members will be missed. We will try to find comfort in remembering his kind spirit and following his remarkable example. 

Internet and social media


Of course you can post an entire obituary on Facebook, or any other site, (a short blurb or a link to a longer one on Twitter) but social media is a lot less formal. 

That means it’s okay if you post something more personal or even much shorter. 

When my own mother died, I posted something “short and sweet” along with a picture of her smiling. 

As many of you know by now, my sweet mom went to be with the Lord this morning. She was a great example to us and we miss her dearly. Without realizing what she was doing, she gave us all many many wonderful memories. She was the most thoughtful person I ever met!

By all means though, feel free to post the entire obituary.  Most funeral homes put the obituary on their website with no limit on its length and it has a place for people to write messages and memories. Many people don’t get newspapers now or even look at the paper’s website, so it will be of interest to people to read more details of the person’s life. This is also your opportunity to write a lot more. There have been times when people wrote a lot of information about someone’s life and the newspaper charge was going to be close to $1100! Although some people will still go ahead with it, most of us won’t and would rather post it on the internet and put something shorter in the paper. 

Obituary example


In some cities, there's one charge for average-length obituaries. This one may have an extra charge since it's a little longer. Smaller cities commonly print obituaries at no charge. 


John Hart, 98, of Jones City, died peace-fully at home on January 24, 2018. Born in Phoenix, he was the youngest of 11 children. After serving in the Army during the Korean Conflict, he worked at Smith Investments for 20 years before making a dream come true and opened his shop, Everyone’s Paints, until he sold it in 1988 and retired. He was a member of Jones City Church, Longmeadow Country Club, and the Association of American Artists. His real passion was painting portraits, and he created one of each of his children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, completing the last one at Christmas. 

He was the husband of Louise McDonald Hart for 71 years; father of Joseph (Mary) Hart, the late Mark Hart, Suzanne Blackstone, and Jonathan (Elizabeth) Hart; grandfather of Stella (Jeremy) Johnson, Judith (Ken) Taylor, Leo (Anna) Hart, and James (Sally) Hart;. He is also survived by 8 great-grandchildren, 12 great-great-grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, friends, and golfing buddies and his faithful companion, Rover.

Friends may call Monday 4-7pm at Smith Funeral Home, where services will be held, Tuesday at 10:30am. Burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery. Those wishing to make a contribution to the Capt. Mark Hart Scholarship Fund, founded by John to honor his Army son who was killed in Viet Nam, may send it to P O Box 35, Jones City, CA 90390 or at 

Death notice examples


There are two types of death notices as mentioned above. Here are examples of an unpaid notice and a paid notice. 

For an unpaid notice which runs after an obituary was run usually the day before, it would look like this - 

Hart, John   Visiting hours Mon. 4-7pm Smith Funeral Home, 222 Main St., Luzerne. Service Tues. 10:30am at the funeral home. Interment following Evergreen Cemetery. 

For a paid notice, which a newspaper runs if it doesn't print free obituaries, (which are only done if the person was well-known or high profile) for everyone, they will instead print all the information in a death notice where you will be charged by the line. To run the obituary shown in the Obituary Example column to the left  as a paid notice, it will charged by the line. Fox example, in a newspaper that charges $8 per line, this notice has 37 lines and would cost  $296 plus $25 if you include a photo. The flag symbol is usually free. for veterans. Every paper differs in its cost per line. Some small newspapers charge the same price for a “standard” obituary of average length.