How to Write an Online Obituary

Colorful stories for modern lives

The internet has changed the way we do everything. But obituary templates haven’t changed at all. Name, dates and places of birth and death, schools attended, degrees earned, job titles, children’s names…are you nodding off yet?

We personalize everything else — from credit cards to cutting boards. We should personalize our obituaries, too. How was your father, say, different from every other beloved father who just died? Most men in their 70s or 80s are military veterans. Each had a long career doing whatever, produced two or three kids, and joined a Moose Lodge at some point. What set your father apart from all the men of his generation who led parallel lives?

Obituaries should tell stories—even the funny ones and the not-so-flattering ones. They should come alive with photos, videos, and music. And since each person’s life plays out in a way that no one else’s ever has or ever will, each obituary should be unique.

But hey, I get it. Those fill-in-the-blank templates are really tempting. Just cough up a few factoids, plug them in, and bada-bing, bada-boom, you’ve got yourself an obituary. At a time when you’re stressed out—grief, family bickering, financial concerns, funeral planning—it’s the path of least resistance. But writing a memorable obituary can actually be therapeutic. It helps you focus your grief on happier times. Collecting photos and swapping memories brings together squabbling siblings. Most important of all, when you see that warm tribute on the screen years from now, you’ll feel good about having written an obituary that helps everyone remember what was special about your loved one. That’s how I feel when I read my dad’s obituary now. It was the one last gift I could give him.

Hello and welcome!

Hello and welcome!

It's my mission to help you celebrate your loved one's life (or sum up our own) with a warm, colorful, unique tribute. If you get stuck or need some ideas, please email me or tweet to @onlineobits. I'd love to hear from you!

Melissa Jayne Kinsey

Free Quick-Start Guide to Writing an Online Obituary

Quick-Start Obituary Writing Guide

Examples, Ideas, & Advice for a Fresh, Original Tribute

Mockup of book cover: How to Write an Online Obituary

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Confine the preaching to the sidewalk. An obituary is no place for it.

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