May 31, 2019 Beyond The Dash

Obituary Template for Mother

Tips for crafting mom's life story

Obituary Template for Mother
A mother's obituary should include all of the elements of an obituary, as well as a special tribute to her career, personality and family. (Shutterstock)

The loss of a mother is riddled with conflicting emotions and enormous pressure. Pressure to plan a funeral that includes all mourners and honors her wishes. Pressure to move through grief while navigating legal and financial arrangements. And pressure to memorialize her in a way that does justice to her life and legacy.


Writing an obituary for your mother is your chance to tell her life story for this and future generations. Documenting biographical details, achievements, character traits and values all contribute to the telling of a life story. Primarily a death announcement, an obituary is also a tribute to someone who lived, and a celebration of that life.


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Overcoming writer's block


Unfortunately, the expectations you might have of your mother's final life record can hinder the writing process. Wanting the story to be an accurate and touching reflection of your mother's life can lead to procrastination. Once written, you might still be dissatisfied with your version of her life story.


Use the template and tips below to overcome writer's block, and craft a touching tribute to a special mother.


Piecing the story together


Below are some of the most important elements of an obituary story. Gather the factual details needed for each section before you begin to write. That might mean reaching out to family members, referring to the official death certificate and doing research.


1. Acknowledge and announce the passing


In the first sentence, announce the passing of the deceased person:


(Name), (age), of (residence) passed away, (date), with (context about the death).


Whether to give out the cause of her death in the obituary or not is a personal decision. You are under no obligation to mention it in the obituary.


Example: "Lilly Smith, 70, of Santa Monica, passed away April 8, 2018, with her family by her side."


2. Biographical details


The most basic things that are included in almost all obituaries include:



  • Full legal name

  • Nickname

  • Age

  • Place of passing

  • Place of residence

  • Education

  • Employment


Make sure you mention her most significant achievements and recognitions. Try to encompass her life clearly and succinctly. Though you shouldn't skip the details, make sure the story isn't overly wordy.


Structure your paragraph like this:


She was born to parents (parents' names), (date) in (place). (name) graduated from (high school name) and received (name of degree) from (name of college).


Example: "She was born to the late Marshall and Rachel Jones, Jul. 12, 1948, in Springfield, Illinois. Lilly graduated from John Adams High School in 1963 and received a BA in in History from the University of Illinois in 1967."


3. Family information


List the names and relations of survivors your mother left behind. Therefore, include the survivor information by listing the names of her spouse, children, grandchildren, and other important family members or close friends.


She was married to (spouse's name) in (year of marriage). (Name) is survived by (list of surviving family members and close loved ones).


If the list of survivors is extensive, you may choose to mention them in groups instead of by name; for example; "She is survived by a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren."


You may also include a list of predecessors after the survivors.


Example: "She married the late Thomas Smith in 1968, and they lived together in Springfield for twenty years before relocating to Santa Monica. Lilly is survived by three children: Jennifer Gray, of Springfield; Jeremy Smith, of Philadelphia; and Mark Smith, of Chicago. She is also survived by nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Lilly was predeceased by her loving husband in 2011."


4. Personal touches


Now is your chance to tell the world about who your mother really was. This section is crucial to making your mother's life story stand out.


Think of concrete moments with your mother. What was her sense of humor like? What was her favorite saying? What were her quirks? Did she have a special talent? Did she have any funny or profound thoughts on death? What kind of mother was she? Sharing these types of details reminds mourners who she was, and helps those who never had the honor of meeting her understand better her unique spirit.


There is no template you can follow to relate these personal touches. Your memories of her will be as distinct and unique as she. Space permitting, choose one to three short anecdotes to share, and state them as simply as possible.


Example: "Lilly was an accomplished musician, performing internationally as a concert cellist for over 30 years with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She passed her appreciation of music to all her children. Lilly was immensely proud of her family, and leaves behind nothing but beautiful memories. As her health declined, she often repeated the quote: "When I die, I'd like to come back as a cello."


5. Funeral arrangements


In the final paragraph, provide the readers with the specifics of the funeral arrangements. State the date, time, and place where the funeral, wake or reception will be held. This is also your family's chance to let people know of their wishes. For instance, to make a charitable donation in lieu of flowers:


(Type of event) will be held on (date) at (time) at (location).


Example: "Viewing ceremony will be held on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 12 p.m. at the Santa Clara Funeral Home. The burial will take place at 3 p.m. at the Santa Monica cemetery. The family insists that people make donations in support of breast cancer research, in lieu of sending flowers."


Create an Obituary


Obituary sample


Lilly Smith, 70, of Santa Monica, passed away April 8, 2018, with her family by her side.


She was born to the late Marshall and Rachel Jones, Jul. 12, 1948, in Springfield, Illinois. Lilly graduated from John Adams High School in 1963 and received a BA in in History from the University of Illinois in 1967.


She married the late Thomas Smith in 1968, and they lived together in Springfield for twenty years before relocating to Santa Monica. Lilly is survived by three children: Jennifer Gray, of Springfield; Jeremy Smith, of Philadelphia; and Mark Smith, of Chicago. She is also survived by nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Lilly was predeceased by her loving husband in 2011.


Lilly was an accomplished musician, performing internationally as a concert cellist for over 30 years with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She passed her appreciation of music to all her children. Lilly was immensely proud of her family, and leaves behind nothing but beautiful memories. As her health declined, she often repeated the quote: "When I die, I'd like to come back as a cello."


Viewing ceremony will be held on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 12 p.m. at the Santa Clara Funeral Home. The burial will take place at 3 p.m. at the Santa Monica cemetery. The family insists that people make donations in support of breast cancer research, in lieu of sending flowers.

Your loved one had a remarkable life. Tell their story, and we’ll publish it online for free.

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