How to Write an Obituary

creative smartphone desk notebook

When my dad died, SO MANY decisions needed to be made simultaneously. Did I want my dad to be a tissue donor? Which funeral date and time would best accommodate this tragic life event? What poem did I want inside the funeral program and what type of tranquil theme best captured my dad’s personality? What picture immortalized my dad for posterity—the one holding two large walleyes, or the one of him standing next to me on my wedding day (and were we far enough away from each other that I could be completely cropped out)?

Another big decision that needed to be made was the writing of my dad’s obituary. It wasn’t discussed, but rather assumed that since I was the designated writer of the family, that I would be the one to take on this insurmountable task. And, honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. In my mind, this was one of the last ways I could express my undying love for my dad while focusing on his life rather than dwelling on the gory details of his death.

“In my mind, this was one of the last ways I could express my undying love for my dad while focusing on his life rather than dwelling on the gory details of his death.”

I had never written an obituary before, and as a researcher, I leaned on my natural tendency to research the topic at hand. When I Googled, “How to write an obituary” not many helpful tips and tricks populated my screen. I then proceeded to scour the web for recent obituaries, and that felt depressing and morbid. I desperately wished I could find a how-to guide for this important and unwanted task. Because, trust me, if you are the one chosen to write an obituary it means that YOU were one of the most important people in your loved one’s life. And even if you are the best writer in the world, the last thing you will want to do is to sit down for hours and write that story—especially if it is forced and unexpected.

“If you are the one chosen to write an obituary it means that YOU were one of the most important people in your loved one’s life. And even if you are the best writer in the world, the last thing you will want to do is to sit down for hours and write that story—especially if it is forced and unexpected.”

Since I couldn’t find helpful resources, I stared at my blank computer screen, prayed to God for the right words, and wrote from my heart. I have received many heartfelt compliments about my dad’s obituary and I wanted to create a “how to” guide for others who are in an unfortunate similar position. I have also included my dad’s obituary below for anyone who wants to use as a starting point.

Tips for Writing an Obituary

1. Start with the Details: List your loved one’s name and age. Add in details of when they passed, and where. If you’d like include details such as birth date, where they grew up, and parents.

2. Insert Career & Volunteer Details: Include career details, and any causes that your loved one was passionate about.

3. Include Details about Your Loved One’s Personality: Describe your loved one in 1-2 sentences.

4. Share about Hobbies & Interests: Include 1-2 sentences about your loved one’s hobbies and interests throughout the years.

5. Family Information: Include information about family that is left behind, and those that preceded in death.

6. Visitation & Funeral Information: Include details about the visitation and funeral information, including the address, date, and time. If your family prefers other gestures than flowers, mention the alternative here. Also include the website in which online condolences can be made.

My Dad’s Obituary

Captain Kendall “KP” Parsley, 59, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, July 4, 2017 in Marblehead, Ohio. Born February 23, 1958 to Roy and Wanda Parsley, Kendall grew up in Columbus, Ohio.  It was there he met his beloved wife, Brenda Hicks, whom he married on May 16, 1987. The couple recently celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary with a trip to Las Vegas.

KP began his career at Sears, where he worked in logistics management. He retired from the company after 40 years of service on December 31, 2014. Kendall was also an avid fisherman both personally and professionally which led him to owning and operating Drift Away Charters in Marblehead, Ohio where he was a Charter Captain licensed by the US Coast Guard and the State of Ohio. He was an active member of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (LECBA) and enthusiastically volunteered with charitable organizations such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society through fishing tournaments. Captain KP was extremely passionate about the conservation of Lake Erie and the sport fishery industry and volunteered in the Governor’s Fish Ohio Day each year.

Kendall was known to family and friends alike as a generous, unassuming gentlemen who was the first to lend a helping hand at a moment’s notice. He spoke infrequently, offering sage and thoughtful advice and witty humor that was highly valued by those fortunate enough to hear it.

When he wasn’t fishing, KP enjoyed tinkering on various projects throughout the house and garage, watching movies from his impressive collection, and cheering on the Ohio State Buckeyes where his daughter earned her graduate degree. Most recently, he liked bowling at Star Lanes in Port Clinton and was a member of the Channel Grove Bowling League. KP delighted in spending time with his children, grandson, relatives and Channel Grove family, all whom cherished him.

Kendall is survived by his wife, Brenda; children Misti (Aaron) Allison, and Steven Parsley; grandson Blake Allison; sisters Linda (Ronnie) Pierce, Andrea Clickenger and sister-in-law Rosal Parsley. He is preceded in death by his parents; infant grandson, Kaiden Evans-Parsley and brother, Raymond Parsley.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, July 8, 2017 at the Neidecker, LeVeck & Crosser Funeral Home, 7755 E. Harbor Road, Lakeside Marblehead, Ohio 43440 from 4pm to 7pm and a memorial service will immediately follow with Pastor Jan Winnale officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to Blake Allison’s CollegeAdvantage Savings Plan as Kendall was adamant about contributing to his grandson’s college education. Memorial contributions may be made at Ugift529.com by entering the Ugift code: 29Y-74F.

Online condolences may be shared with the family at http://www.neideckerleveckcrosser.com.

I Hope You Find this Helpful.

I pray that you don’t have to use this how-to guide for a VERY long time. But when you do, I hope you remember this post and use it to help guide your words during this extremely sad time in your life. Words matter. Your loved one matters. And the task of writing an obituary matters.

Fish On,

Misti

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