How to List People in an Obituary

A bouquet of flowers on a coffin.
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Writing an obituary can be an emotional and overwhelming task. The document is read by many people and is often kept as a cherished keepsake. While the newspaper may limit the length of an obituary, it is an opportunity to chronicle the life of the deceased and spread the word about the upcoming funeral arrangements. Forgetting to list an important family member in an obituary can cause hurt and conflict for years.

1 Preceded in Death

After gathering the correct spelling of each family member's name, begin the naming portion of the obituary with the deceased’s name and the words, “was preceded in death by.” Follow with a list of names of the relatives who passed away before the recently departed. While obituaries traditionally only include spouses and blood relatives, families may also choose to include domestic partners, close friends or ex-spouses if they maintained a close relationship.

2 Survivors

You may then start a second paragraph with the phrase, “is survived by.” Follow with a list of names of the living family members, domestic partners and close friends. This list may feature parents, spouses, all children (natural, adopted and stepchildren), all siblings (full, half and step) and grandparents. Instead of writing out all of the names for extended family members, you can write, for example, the deceased “had 10 grandchildren and 14 nieces and nephews.” It is important to verify the information in the obituary and check for completeness with one or more family members before publishing it.

Kimberly Dyke is a Spanish interpreter with a B.A. in language and international trade from Clemson University. She began writing professionally in 2010, specializing in education, parenting and culture. Currently residing in South Carolina, Dyke has received certificates in photography and medical interpretation.