Can You Write Your Own Obituary?

If you’re preplanning your cremation and memorial service, you may be wondering if you can write your own obituary. The short answer is “yes”, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Here’s what you need to know.

Benefits of Writing Your Own Obituary

Writing an obituary for yourself ensures you are memorialized the way you want. You can decide which details to include and which ones to leave out.

Many young or middle-aged people find writing their own obituaries to be a useful exercise in terms of evaluating life goals or creating a “bucket list”. As you sum up your life in an obituary, you may think of things you want to include but haven’t accomplished yet.

Key Details for Obituaries

Typically, obituaries start with your name and your date and place of birth. They also tend to include important milestones such as degrees, marriages, career highlights, and children. You may also want to write about your hobbies, memorable life experiences, and charitable work. Most obituaries also list loved ones who have preceded you in death followed by loved ones who have survived you.

After your passing, the funeral home or your loved ones will need to fill in some details such as the date and place of your death. However, you can decide which of these details you want included, and you can frame them as you wish. Simply write this part of the obituary as if you have already passed but leave a blank for the exact details.

The Tone of Your Obituary

Typically, as obituaries are written by someone else, the writing is in third person. For instance, “Mary Smith was born in Boston in 1956, and she enjoyed playing the piano” is an example of third-person narrative. However, if desired, you can buck tradition and write your obituary in the first person. Sharing details about your life using the pronoun “I” can give the obituary a more personal feel.

Similarly, most obituaries take a serious tone, but in recent years, that has also changed. If you are funny in life, you may want an obituary that mirrors that tone. If so, it’s okay to inject some humor into your writing.

Special Considerations

It’s important to note that some newspapers have special rules regarding obituaries. For example, the Boston Globe accepts death notices from family members and funeral homes, but obituaries are all written by staff members. If you have a certain newspaper or website in mind, you may want to check their length and content guidelines before writing your own obituary. In some cases, you may need a shorter version of an obituary for newspapers, while the longer one can be published in its entirety on the funeral home’s website.

Once you write the obituary, you can leave it with the funeral home or crematorium you are working with for your arrangements, or you can give your obituary to a family member. Alternatively, you can save a copy of your obituary and give a loved one the username and password to access the document—then, you can make changes or updates as needed. Families can also submit obituaries to any publication and do not need the funeral home to do so – simply email the obituary with a photo to the publication and pay online with a credit card.

If you are interested in pre-planning your final arrangements, contact Boston Cremation today. We can answer your questions and help you get started.


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