6 min read

How To Write A Death Notice

When someone passes away, there are logistics to arrange and decisions to make. From deciding on funeral services and funeral directions, to a cremation ceremony or burial arrangements, theres a lot to think about whilst also grieving. One of the forgotten details amongst this chaos, can be the death notice. In this blog post, we provide guidance on the entire process; from drafting and publishing a death notice, to seeking emotional support in this time.

Dried leaf

What is a Death Notice?

A death notice is a type of listing placed in the obituaries of a newspaper. It is written by the family of the deceased and typically organised by the funeral director. The reason someone may want to write a death notice is to notify immediate and extended family members and close friends about the person's passing.

The death notice is a formal written publication that contains very little information. It usually includes the personal details of the deceased as well as family, and funeral arrangement choices to inform other people of the passing and all the details they might need to attend the funeral. It may include the person's:

  • Name
  • Time of Death
  • Birth Date
  • Funeral date and location

There are a variety of factors to consider when creating a death notice including:

  • Who is responsible for creating it
  • The budget
  • Verifying the accuracy of the details

What to include in a Death Notice

The wording is up to you. However, you want to make sure that you don't leave out anything critical. A death notice should include personal information, family information, and funeral ceremony details. They are usually done in the following order:

Key Personal Information

  • The deceased's full-name – you can also include any nickname that they are regularly called.
  • Date & Location of their death – include their age at death.
  • Date and place of birth
  • Details of their spouse, followed by their children (oldest to youngest)
  • Details of their wider relatives; including children's spouses, grandchildren, and any other surviving family (such as siblings, cousins).
  • Details of their parents.
  • A photo that is memorable.
  • Any achievements or major involvements – in career or volunteer work.
  • Any other information that is a major part of the person's life- hobbies, community work, religion, interests, talents.

Key funeral services or cremation ceremony Information

  • Date of funeral service or burial ceremony
  • Time of funeral service
  • Location of the funeral service
  • Related services; including food, flowers, decorative, or attire requests – optional.
  • Special goodbye or personalised wishes from the family – covering anything from religious beliefs, request or details (optional)
  • Contact details to pay respect or communicate attendance

Tips to write a better death notice

While your writing style doesn't have to be perfect to write a death notice, you still want to have the correct details. After all, you only have one chance to get it right.

1 – Get the family together before the funeral service

Writing a death notice doesn't have to be a solo effort. Getting the whole team family together before the funeral, whether in person or through video-call (conference style) will really help you gather all the information in an accurate and timely manner.

It will also give you all the opportunity to discuss and agree upon any other announcements or funeral arrangements- from casket to funeral directors choices, crematorium locations and details for ashes. Despite the sad circumstances, this process can also bring families and loved ones together in the intense heat of grief; marking an impactful time to provide emotional support to each other.

2 – Double check the spelling

Double check the spelling of:

  • Family names
  • Places
  • Organisations

3 – Avoid mentioning the cause of death

The reason for this is because you want to ensure focus remains more on the celebration of life, rather than on how they passed away. If it is not possible, at least keep it limited

4 – Spend time editing and consolidating details

Decide what's absolutely necessary to include in the death notice. As much as you can, edit and reduce any unnecessary information. It's important to consider that since you'll likely be charged per line of lettering, so want to use those words wisely.

5 – Proofread the notice (and ask others to do so as well)

While it's important for you to proofread the notice, it is also helpful to have several other people proofread it as well. This doesn't require a professional team, but since you spent a lot of time editing, amending, and rewording sentences, it's best to request a few other people have a last look over. You could also ask your funeral director for advice and guidance at this stage, as dedicated funeral arrangers have plenty experience on these notices.

6 – Be clear and concise

You don't have to worry about using sophisticated and fancy words when writing a death notice. It's actually better to be as simple as possible so all the information can be clearly understood. Families choose different details to include, but in covering the basics and giving advice on details for the funeral and related services, you cant really go wrong.

How much does it cost to publish a death notice?

The cost depends on how you publish your death notice. There are a few ways you can publish a death notice.

You can publish a death notice through a local newspaper (either in the deceased's hometown, where they lived most of their life, or both). The price depends on the newspaper you decide to publish the notice in. It is best for you to contact them directly for their prices.

You can also publish the notice in print and digital formats to distribute them to more people, and make sure that they are aware of the death and funeral arrangements ahead of time. Either way, you want to consider the different requirements and limitations that they have in regards to:

  • Photos
  • Character lengths
  • Other restricted content
  • Subject Matter

How do you find a death notice in Australia?

While you can find out about someone's death in a variety of ways, you can still search for a death notice in Australia. You can find them through your local, state, or national newspapers in the obituaries section. You can also find them online: one of the most used platforms for this is My Tributes. It is a website that includes the updated death, funeral, and tribute notices in both print and online.

Writing a death notice is one of many pieces of admin and related services you and your family will be undertaking in the aftermath of a loss. It can feel overwhelming to think about all the arrangement choices, and how to create a special goodbye to celebrate the life of your loved one.

How Safewill can Help

Safewill offers support to grieving families every day; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can support you in arranging all the details of your loved ones cremation; helping deliver the ashes back to you and provide emotional support throughout the entire process. Or, our professional team can provide legal support services to help you navigate probate or estate administration. Give us a call today to discuss how we can best support you, by giving us a call on 1800 103 310 or via live chat now.

For other funeral arrangements, information on how to pick a cremation ceremony and related services, the Safewill Blog has a myriad of useful resources.

Last updated 15th December 2021
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Lauren Barrientos
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