The Art of Obituary writing.

An obituary is the "final word" about a deceased person, describing his/her attributes, deeds and accomplishments. Historians and genealogists rely on information found in obituaries. Obituaries provide answers to "who, what, where, when, why and how" are especially helpful in sharing the person’s story.

As you explore think about elements of a person's life that might be included in his or her obituary. How is an obituary formatted? What is included first and last?

Read Obituaries of two famous individuals:

Elvis Presley:

Carl Bert Albert:

Explore more obituaries here:

An epitaph is the a prose or poetic form of words suited for inscription on a tomb. An epitaph may take the form of appeals from the dead to passers-by or of descriptions of the dead person’s merits.

Your epitaph should capture the essence of your character by using descriptive words, phrases, and figurative language. The tone of your epitaph should match your attitude as a reader toward the character you write about. The language of your epitaph should appeal to the senses of the reader to help convey the real meaning of your character.

“The Epitaph”

Lines 117–128 from “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray (1716-71)

"Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown’d not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark’d him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav’n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis’ry all he had, a tear,
He gain’d from Heav’n (‘twas all he wish’d) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose)
The bosom of his Father and his God."