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Writing an obituary

What is a Death Notices?

A death notice is paid advertising space in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Death notices can only be submitted to the paper by the funeral home. Typically, the death notice provides the public with the who, what, when and where concerning the immediate funeral service details. There is no limit to the information you ask us to submit. Photos can be included.  The cost is based upon space needed to print  the information YOU ask us to submit on your behalf. .


What is an obituary?

More than merely a "good-bye" to the deceased, this is a farewell which can, in chronological order, detail the life of the deceased. An obituary also serves as notification that an individual has passed away and details of the services that are to take place. The obituary may appear in the paper a few days prior to the services, or more often, after "services have been held".  The obituary is free.  Family members may submit obituary information directly to the Cincinnati Enquirer.  The decision to print obituary information remains with the newspaper editorial department.

What to include in Death Notices and Obituaries?

Naturally, it is vital that the full name, along with the location and date of passing is included so that there is no confusion over whom has died. You may wish to consider placing a photograph  with the text. There are usually extra charges applied if you are thinking of using a photograph. 

In a concise manner, write about the significant events in the life of the deceased. This may include the schools he or she attended and any degrees attained; you may also include any vocations and employment information, special awards,  interests that the deceased was involved with, church and parish leadership and involvement, special groups like a Masonic Lodge, seniors group, or Knights of Columbus membership.



It is common to include a list of those who have survived the deceased. The list should include (where applicable):

  • Spouse (Living or Deceased)
  • Children and Adopted children
  • Step-Children
  • Grandchildren & Great Grandchildren
  • Step-Grandchildren
  • Parents (Living or Deceased)
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings
  • Nieces and Nephews
  • Other Significant people

The surviving relatives listed above may be listed by name. Other relatives will not be mentioned by name but may be included in terms of their relationship to the deceased. In other words, the obituary may mention that the deceased had 5 grandchildren; 7 nieces etc. However, exceptions to the above rule can be made if, for example, the deceased only had ne grandchild or a nephew who was the only person living in the newspaper's distribution area. These exceptions are obviously made based on each individual case.

Also, anyone listed as a special friend or companion is not normally included amongst the list of survivors unless the deceased's blood relatives request that it be so. The obituary's traditional purpose is to list survivors either related through the bloodline or marriage.

Additional information such as pallbearer's names or names of honorary pallbearers may be mentioned.

At this point list the details of the time and location of any services for the deceased: these may include the funeral, burial, wake and memorial service where appropriate.


Do's & Don'ts

If you don't know where to start, do read other obituaries to gain an idea of how personal and touching an obituary may be.

Do use such terms as "visitation will be from" or "friends may call from". Do not utilize the phrase "lie in state" as that only applies to a head of state such as the prime minister or president.

Do say . . ."The Smith Family prefers memorial donations to. . . " as you consider the charity you wish to benefit. And, you may use the words "in lieu of flowers" so others better understand that you wish to benefit the charity  you have named.

Do consider if you wish to send the obituary to newspapers in other cities e.g. to a town where the deceased may have resided previously. Obtain copies of the obituary to send to distant relatives and friends.


Final Considerations  . . .

Any and all information to be included in the obituary should be verified with another family member. A newspaper will have to verify with the funeral home being utilized that the deceased is in fact being taken care of by that funeral home.

Seeing as most newspapers charge by the word when death notices, it may not always be feasible to mention everything that we have stated in our guidelines. Use your own discretion and do not put yourself under any financial hardship. Your loved one would understand.

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