Why do we dread obituary writing? And why are obituaries so gloomy and colorless? Toss the templates. Write a fresh, original tribute, not a résumé and not an old-fashioned print obituary, or “death notice,” as a newspaper would call it. To learn how to write a unique, modern obituary without a template download my free Quick-Start Guide to Writing an Online Obituary. If you want more advice, ideas, and examples, try these ideas:
- Talk to your family and others who knew the obituee. Ask them what they remember about him or her in various roles (office manager, HOA president, marathon runner, prom chaperon, favorite uncle, dismal but determined golfer, etc.) at different times in their lives (at summer camp, during cosmetology school, after her divorce, etc., depending on when the person was closest to the obituee). Visit StoryCorps for a list of great questions to ask when you interview a family member or friend. They even have a free mobile app that lets you “record and archive a meaningful conversation with anyone, anywhere.”
- To collect your thoughts and memories about the obituee before you write a draft, try brainstorming with a mindmap, either on paper or with an app like MindNode or Lucidchart.
- If you’re writing your own obituary (your autobituary or life review), here’s some fantastic, Writer’s Digest has some surprising advice on how to write about your life.
- More for those of you interested in autobiographical writing and memoir: Check out these excellent book recommendations.
- Get your copy of How to Write an Online Obituary on Amazon, or download just the three core chapters (collecting memories and stories, writing a draft, and polishing the final piece) for $2.99.
- Watch my YouTube playlist for advice on obituary writing.
- If you’re trying to decide which virtual memorial site is best, see my downloadable spreadsheet comparing the features of nearly 90 digital afterlife services.
- Read my blog posts. Here are the three most popular posts to date: