A death notice is short and brief announcement of a person's death. The death notice is usually published immediately after the deceased's death. The death notice is to inform the deceased's community of family, friends and co-workers. In general a death notice does not include a detailed biography.
The death notice is composed with the help of the funeral director and/or funeral home as the family makes the arrangements for their loved one following the guidelines of the newspaper for which it will be published in. Since death notices are very short most are published free of charge by the newspaper or there may be a small fee.
When publishing a death notice the following information is usually included: the name of the deceased, date of death and the time and location of the deceased's service. Some death notices may include the names the deceased immediate family members (spouse, children, parents and/or siblings) listed as the survivors of the deceased, their age, occupation and cause of death.
In the screen capture below is an example of a death notice. This notice is for Mrs. Ida M. Carter, the wife of my 1st cousin twice removed, Mr. Harvey C. Carter. As you can see her name, age, the length of illness and time of death are listed first. Followed by her survivors. Notice that there is no listing of funeral services in this announcement.
A burial notice is also a short and/or brief notice of a deceased's burial or graveside only service. It is usually published the day of the service or the day before the service. The burial notice is to inform the deceased's community of friends and co-workers and does not include a detailed biography. In general I have seen burial notices for persons who have survived their loved ones deaths. Generally speaking there may only be a few friends or neighbors, caregivers or distant relatives left to attend the burial of the deceased.
The burial notice is composed with the help of the funeral director and/or funeral home as the arrangements for the deceased are made and following the guidelines of the newspaper for which it will be published in. Like death notices, burial notices are very short and maybe published for free or there may be a small fee.
When publishing a burial notice the following information is usually included: the name of the deceased, date of death and the time and location of the deceased's burial and/or graveside service. Some notices may include the names the deceased immediate family members (spouse, children, parents and/or siblings) listed as the survivors of the deceased, their age, occupation and cause of death.
In the screen capture below is an example of a burial notice. This notice is for Mr. Postell Carter, my biological paternal grandfather. As you can see his name, address, age, day death are listed first. The graveside services are scheduled for the day of the announcement at 10:00 a.m., the name of the cemetery and the officiant. In this particular announcement, my grandfather's parents are listed as deceased, his place of birth, his religion affiliation, occupation and his education are also provided. This information is followed by his survivors. Notice that there is no listing of an actual funeral service in this announcement but the name of the funeral home is included.
An obituary notice is a detailed biography of the person who died. Like the death and burial notices, the obituary is composed by the funeral director and/or funeral home with information provided by the family using the information provided by the family. All newspapers have guidelines that are followed by the funeral director and/or funeral home.
There is always a fee for an obituary and that fee is determined by the length of the obituary. An obituary is for the family, friends, co-workers and others in the deceased community. You may also have to publish the obituary in the local newspaper of the city where the deceased's children live or perhaps in the hometown of the deceased. Obituaries should be published a day or two before the planned services.
The best way I can describe an obituary is that is done in pieces and would include the following information:
The Identity & Family
The full name of the deceased including the maiden names, nicknames or special names they may have been known by other family members (ie: grandparent nicknames other than grandmother or grandfather; for instance our grandchild calls us "Dede and Jaja"). The dates and locations of birth, marriage(s) and death. The deceased's age and cause of death. The names of family members who died before them and then a listing of the surviving family members.
Life Accomplishments: Education, Military, Social, and Religious
Next you would follow with their education history and military service, if applicable. This would be followed by the deceased's place of employment and position(s) held and any memberships in civic, fraternal or religious organizations and place of worship. List any hobbies or special interests the deceased may have enjoyed as well.
Full Funeral Details
Full details about the services for the deceased including the location, day and time of visitation for family and friends who may not be able to attend the funeral. The location, day and time of the funeral service and burial. There are times when the family may wish to keep the service or burial private and should be indicated in the obituary as well.
Wishes of the Deceased & Family
In some obituaries you will find, "in lieu of flowers..." and the family may list one or two of the deceased favorite charities, or the hospice that provided end of life care, or to a medical organization. In some cases you will find that memorial, medical or college funds have been set up for the deceased's family or young children (those who are killed in the line of duty such as military or police personnel). You will need to provide the full details of the organization, contact names, addresses and websites of these organizations. You will also find special thank you's to caregivers by name or organization listed too.
To the left is an example of an obituary from 1955. I found this obituary for Dr. Kenneth M. Lynch while I was researching obituaries in South Carolina for the year 1955.
As you can see, Dr. Lynch very upstanding man of the community.
His obituary is rather extensive and includes many details about his personal and professional lives. His dates of birth and death are listed. Full details of the funeral services and his survivors are also listed.
I do apologize in advance for the way I have presented this obituary. I had to capture the image and scan it to my computer to keep it in two pieces rather than three pieces originally captured.
Karen Hickman, "Obituary Etiquiette", Professional Courtesy (http://professionalcourtesyllc.com/obituary-etiquette/ : 14 April 2016).
April Sanders, "Death Notice Etiquette", People, Rights and Customs, Opposing Views (http://people.opposingviews.com/death-notice-etiquette-2319.html : accessed 14 April 2016).
"Mrs. Ida M. Carter," death announcement, Charleston [SC] News and Courier, 20 August 1938, page 2, column 2; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 14 April 2016).
"Postell Carter Dies; Rite are Today," burial notice, Charleston [SC] News and Courier, 31 October 1958, page 17, column 2; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 14 April 2016).
"Dr. Kenneth M. Lynch, Former Head of MUSC, Dies", obituary, Charleston [SC] News and Courier, 30 November 1974, page 13, columns 4-6; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 14 April 2016).