6 Sample Obituary Examples + Formatting Advice

We understand how difficult it is to write an obituary for someone you love when you're grieving, but our samples and advice can help.

Updated April 3, 2024
woman's hands typing on laptop

We know it's not easy to write an obituary. You're probably grieving, and it can be hard to know exactly what's important to include or what to say to honor your loved one's memory. Take a deep breath — we're here to help you with examples of what to put into an obituary and sample wording. As you write, remember the love you have for your loved one and put that on the page. You've got this. 

Examples of What to Put in an Obituary

We understand that you probably don't have a lot of space to share all the details you want about your loved one. But you can still give important information and share just a bit of who they were with a well-written obituary. While there are traditions surrounding obituaries, there really aren't rules, so you can always go off-script if it makes sense to do so. These are standard things you'll find in an obituary.

  • Name of deceased
  • Age at time of death
  • Birth and death dates
  • Schooling or education
  • Accomplishments or biographical sketch
  • Immediate family members still living and deceased
  • Funeral arrangements, date, time and location
  • Where to send gifts or donations in memory

Before you submit the final obituary, take time to proofread and get a second opinion. Check for proper spelling, capitalization, and dates before you submit it.

Related: Heartfelt Obituary Samples for Mothers

Traditional Obituary Sample

Traditional basic obituaries include a standard set of information in a particular order. This is an example of a typical format.

Jeff Alexander Watson, age 90, died in his home in Bearstown on April 13, 2016. He was a 1944 graduate of Bearstown Central School. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management. Mr. Watson moved to Dallas at the age of 22, where he met and married Georgia Ann Bowen. He worked for 40 years with the National Park Service before retiring.

Mr. Watson was an avid bowler and volunteered with the Boy Scouts of America. He is survived by his wife, Georgia; their daughter, Ann Smith of Dallas; their son, Jeff Jr. of Buffalo, NY; and four grandchildren. He is also survived by several siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Jean.

Funeral services will take place at King Church in Dallas on Wednesday, April 16 at 3 p.m. Burial services will be private for immediate family, but a potluck dinner will be served for all in the church basement at 5 p.m. Flowers can be sent to In Living Memory Funeral Home, 4 First Street, Dallas, TX.

Female novelist writing on the laptop

Non-Traditional Obituary Example

This example doesn't follow a standard format, but it gives a snapshot of the person who has died and a sense of who they were.

John Brown, aged 72, died on March 23, 2024, after a prolonged illness. He was a loving father, deeply adored grandfather, and faithful partner for 45 years. 

John was beloved by his children Amy (44) and Jeremy (43) and his partner Allan for his sense of humor, personal integrity, and desire to leave the world a better place. In spite of his size 14 shoes, John chose to tread lightly on this planet. He spent his career as a tireless advocate for abused and neglected children, and he encouraged his family to join him in his volunteer work supporting the environmental causes he was so passionate about.

John was a tree of a man, but he was a gentle giant. He loved to make people laugh, especially his grandchildren, Brittney (16) and Andrew (14), and he was the perfect pup parent to his rescue dog Roscoe, a 10-year-old golden retriever. John never met a stranger, and he is survived by a large group of friends and family who will miss him dearly. Please join them for a celebration of John's life on Thursday, March 28, 2024, at the Odd Fellows Hall in Seaside, OR at 3 PM. 

Short and Simple Obituary Example

Sometimes, a short and simple obituary is the best option, especially if publication space is limited or expensive. 

Mary Lewis passed away in Caring Nursing Home on May 8, 2023, at the age of 67. She will be greatly missed for her sense of humor and concern for others. Respects can be paid during her funeral at Forest Lawn Cemetery on East Maple Drive in Bethesda, MD on Saturday, May 10 at 11 a.m.

Example of an Obituary for a Private Person

If your loved one was a private person and you know they'd prefer to keep things simple and private, this brief obituary format is perfect.

Alana Mary Grant, December 13, 1967 - August 12, 2017, Erie, PA
Alana lived a fulfilling life as a mother, sister, wife, and friend. She loved knitting, reading, and Sunday family dinners. In keeping with her nature, funeral services are private and for immediate family only. Those wishing to honor her life can make a donation in her name to Blankets for Babies.

Obit Sample for Someone Prominent in the Community

When a beloved community member or respected leader dies, the obituary should include more of their accomplishments.

Our community sadly lost a pillar on Friday, January 6, 2022, when Mrs. Betsy Linda Johnson, favorably known as Miss B, passed away from natural causes. Her contributions to the lives of many include the creation of Christmas for Kids charity organization, a 20-year stint as President of the Neighborhood Watch Program, development of the abandoned Farm Street factory into the Maryville Soup Kitchen, and thousands of quilted blankets made and given to homeless veterans in our area.

Betsy is survived by the loving community of Maryville and her husband of 54 years, Mr. Gerald Johnson, and their three sons, Bert Johnson, Stephen Johnson, and David Johnson, along with their wives and children. Mrs. Johnson is also survived by one sister, Ella Mae Swanson and several cousins. She was preceded in death by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Mayer, two sisters, Millie Mayer and Gertrude Smith, and one brother, Robert Johnson.

Her legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of everyone she interacted with as well as those she reached but never met. Share your stories of remembrance on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at Temple of God Church from 3 - 5 p.m. Help her kindness, loyalty, and compassion continue by making a donation to, or volunteering at, one of the organizations Miss B loved.

Mature woman working at home

Example of a Child's Obituary

A child's death is one of the most difficult to write about. This scenario warrants less formal language and a childlike, sentimental tone.

"So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned." -Peter Pan

Our precious JJ left his parents' embrace, embarking on an epic adventure to Heaven. Jeffrey Jerod Maitland was born on March 13, 2017, and passed away from a bicycle accident on April 4, 2023. He was an energetic boy who loved nothing more than running, jumping, and play sword-fighting.

Those he'll meet in Heaven include his paternal grandparents, great-grandparents, and his Uncle Henry.

He is survived in this world by his mother, father, two sisters, brother and maternal grandparents. At this time, the family is asking for privacy as they grieve and heal together. Donations in JJ's memory can be made to Children's Hospital of New York.

Basic Variations on Obituary Samples

Customize any standard obituary format with the addition of personal notes such as:

  • Quote from a family member or friend
  • Famous quote
  • Brief prayer or Bible quote
  • Favorite people, places, or things
  • Hobbies or interests
  • Notable aspects of their personality

Obituary Samples Help You Find the Right Fit

These obituary examples are a good place to start. Think about who your loved one was and what they would want to communicate with the world about who they were. With that in mind, you're ready to write a loving tribute. 

6 Sample Obituary Examples + Formatting Advice