What do you need to know about death announcements?
Today, we’ll be exploring these questions and more:
- What is a death announcement?
- Is an announcement of death necessary?
- What is the difference between a death announcement and an obituary?
- … between a death announcement and a death notice?
- What is the appropriate way to inform others of a death?
If you’re unfamiliar with the proper etiquette for death announcements, well, that’s understandable. We’ve written this guide to help you know what to do, when to do it, and how to do so in an appropriate and respectful way.
Let’s dive in.
- What is a Death Announcement?
- Difference between a death announcement and…
- How to Spread the Word of a Loved One’s Death
- Death Notices on Facebook (and other social media)
What is a Death Announcement?
A death announcement is a small, brief, printed (and thus often paid-for) statement informing the public of the person’s death. The key word is announcement. It is a formal and public disclosure that an individual has passed away. It is also sometimes called a death notice.
The death announcement can be placed in your local newspaper, the decedent’s local newspaper, or in a national newspaper. It will include the decedent’s name, date of birth and date of death. The announcement will also typically include the dates and times of viewing, funeral, or memorial service.
Sometimes, you may want to include a small amount of information concerning his/her life.
For a death announcement or death notice, this may include place of birth/death, a sympathy phrase such as “With much sorrow…” or a religious testimony such as “…went home to be with Jesus on…” or a note relating to the cause of death (“He bravely ended his fight with COPD”).
You can also suggest where mourners can make donations or send flowers in honor of the decedent.
How to Write a Death Announcement
Keep the death announcement simple and brief. Just highlight the key events. Remember, you only need a short paragraph, typically 2-5 sentences in length.
- Start with the person’s full name, state that they have died, and mention the date of death.
- Optionally, you can include the location of death (city/state), as well as their birth date (and place of birth, if desired).
- Provide funeral information and location.
- Optionally, mention donation information.
How to Say That Someone Has Died
For many people, this is the most difficult part to write. It’s best to simply say that the person has died, or passed away.
Here are some words and phrases you can use:
- Passed away
- Departed this life
- Went home to be with the Lord
- Finished the race
- Went to be at rest
- Was taken
- Was released from this life
Related: 200+ Euphemisms for Death
Death Announcement Template
A death announcement contains:
- A statement that they have passed away
- The date of death (and, optionally, date of birth)
- Optional: Place of death/birth
- Funeral information
- Public funeral: Date, time, and location
- Private funeral
- No services scheduled
A simple template:
[Full name] passed away on [date] in [city/state]. [He/she] was born on [date] in [city/state]. The funeral will be held on [date] at [time] at [location]. It will be followed by [burial and/or reception information]. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to [organization] in [name’s] honor.
Death Announcement Examples
- James (Jim) Watts passed away on Friday, September 17, 2020. Jim was born on January 17, 1943. There will be no services at this time.
- Martha Smith passed away on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. She was born on February 10, 1923. A viewing is planned for Tuesday, July 3, 2020 at the Christ Lutheran Church at 10:00 am – 11:00 in Walhalla, MD. Her funeral service is to follow immediately with burial in the church cemetery.
- The family of Kimberly Brazer announces with great sorrow her passing on June 28, 2020. Kim bravely finished her 3-year fight with cancer and went home to be with Jesus surrounded by family and friends. A public memorial service will be held at 5:00pm on Friday, July 3, at the Daleville Community Center, followed by a potluck reception.
- Buddy Elkins died on Monday, January 3, 1998. Buddy will be having a private memorial visitation followed by a private memorial funeral.
- Geraldine Andersen died on Thursday, December 12, 2019 in Saginaw, MI. She was born April 3, 1980 in Bennett, CO. Her Celebration of Life will be held at New Hope Church in Reese on January 25 at 3:00, followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Compassion International in Geraldine’s name.
These are just a few examples of death announcements. Notice that they provide the basic information, but do not go into life events or family details. Additional details are traditionally communicated in the much longer obituary.
How to Post a Death Announcement
Traditionally, when you are meeting with your funeral director that is making the arrangements for your loved one, the death announcement or obituary will be discussed.
The funeral director will place the announcement/obituary for you at the newspapers of your choice. Often, the funeral home also has a website and a Facebook page, and they will place it on these platforms for no additional fee.
Photo: If you would like to place a photo with the announcement, let the paper or funeral director know. There is always an extra charge to place a photograph.
Proofread: Make sure to proofread your submission. If YOU have made a mistake, the paper will not reimburse you or rerun the death announcement for you again unless you pay for it. Have more than one pair of eyes look it over. Don’t expect the funeral director to know the information you are giving to them is 100% correct. They will type out what you tell them to type.
Payment: The payment will depend on if the funeral home allows the newspaper to be placed on their final copy of the bill (Statement of Funeral Goods and Services). If the funeral home allows this, you will pay the fee to them. When the funeral home does not carry the fee, then you will have to allow the funeral home to give the newspaper your credit card information. If you are not comfortable with that option, you can deal directly with the newspaper.
Announcing a Death on Social Media: In today’s age of technology and social media, is it appropriate to announce a death by Facebook, texting, or other forms of social media? This is a question that is asked often, and yes, it is appropriate.
Death Announcement vs Obituary
An obituary is the life story of the decedent.
For a comparatively larger fee, you can have the obituary published in your local newspaper, the decedent’s local newspaper or national newspaper.
The obituary covers everything from birth to death. It includes everything that you would place in a death announcement or notice plus your loved one’s life story.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Your loved one’s parents, spouse, children, career, marriage(s), and other relatives
- Those who preceded your loved one in death
- Those who are still surviving
- What religion they practiced
- Vocation, education, and other accomplishments
- Military service
- Volunteer or charitable work
- Hobbies, interests, and passions
Ultimately, the obituary covers anything you think is important. Remember, this is the story of someone’s life. At times, depending on the individual, the cause of death may be stated, but it is also acceptable to simply focus on their life and only mention the date of their passing.
Death Announcement vs Funeral Invitation
A funeral invitation is a printed (or, these days, digital) card sent to individuals to inform them of the funeral.
Not everyone uses a funeral invitation. Often the death notice also serves as the invitation to the funeral or memorial service. Most typically, people are informed by word of mouth, social media, or a public obituary/death announcement.
However, if you want to make it a more formal and private occasion, or if you have relatives living out of state that you would like to tell in a more formal way, then an invitation is the right way to go.
Private Funerals & Memorials
A private funeral or other event will take a little more planning than a public invitation via obituaries or death announcements. With a private service or ceremony, you will be inviting a set number of people and more than likely planning a post-funeral meal.
So families often use a formal funeral invitation for a private gathering. This is the best way to keep people out that you don’t want to attend the funeral. If you don’t have an invitation, then you can’t enter. That is how it is at a wedding; you can apply the same idea to a funeral.
Death Announcement Cards
This is the sort of announcement you may send to distant relatives or work colleagues. Some may even send these out to clientele of the decedent.
In the past, death announcement cards were not typically sent to close family or friends. However, especially with the rise of the “Celebration of Life” trend towards creating
You may wish to include a photo on the front and on the inside the date the funeral happened or perhaps even a suggestion where a memorial contribution may be made.
How to Spread the Word of a Death
Even before theannouncement of death has made it to print, you will want certain people to know a death has occurred.
- Phone call. This is the old-fashioned way: word of mouth. Most people will simply pick up the phone. You will call your close family members and friends to alert them that your loved one has passed.
- Text. Send out a mass text. Find everyone in your phone contacts that you may want to get in touch with and let them all know at one time. You can let as few or as many know at one time.
- Create a chain of people. You call two or three people, let them call two or three people and so on. Soon, everyone that you have contact with will know of your loss. It helps to let someone take on some of the burden at this time. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.
- Post on social media. As with most major life events (engagements, births, etc) most people communicate directly by phone or text with their closest handful of friends and family. After that, the news goes to social media. More on that next…
Death Announcements on Facebook
Here is one frequently asked etiquette question: “Is it appropriate to announce a death on Facebook?”
The answer is yes, by all means. Facebook and other online platforms have become so ubiquitous that there is no longer any concern about communicating important information on social media. Aside from the few phone calls or texts to your very closest friends and family, Facebook has become the primary way people find out about major life (or in this case, death) events.
The amount of people that will read the notice online far outnumbers the people that will read it in the newspaper. Plus, it is much more affordable because it is free.
If you have a link to an online obituary, simply post it to your social media page. If you want to write a brief death notice, follow the guidelines above and simply post it on your account. You can also copy and paste in the full obituary, or write a new one for your social media contacts and friends.
If you have access to your loved one’s account, you can do so there as well. However, we recommend posting the death notice from your account first so that the decedent’s friends and contacts don’t suspect that the account has been hacked or compromised.
Facebook also allows the option to “memorialize” a person’s social media account. Learn more at Facebook’s Help Center.
Keep your death announcements simple. Remember, that it is “just” an announcement. Most newspapers will charge by the word or inch, so to keep your cost down, keep it short.
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