thumb|Traditional street obituary notes in Bulgaria
An obituary (obit
for short) is a news article
that reports the recent death of a person, typically along with an account of the person's life and information about the upcoming funeral
In large cities and larger newspapers, obituaries are written only for people considered significant.
In local newspapers, an obituary may be published for any local resident upon death. A necrology is a register or list of records of the deaths of people related to a particular organization, group or field, which may only contain the sparsest details, or small obituaries. Historical necrologies can be important sources of information.
Two types of paid advertisements are related to obituaries. One, known as a death notice, omits most biographical details and may be a legally required public notice
under some circumstances. The other type, a paid memorial advertisement, is usually written by family members or friends, perhaps with assistance from a funeral home
Both types of paid advertisements are usually run as classified advertisements.
Obituaries tend to focus on positive aspects, even when the deceased is a public figure.
A premature obituary is a false reporting of the death of a person who is still alive. It may occur due to unexpected survival of someone who was close to death. Other reasons for such publication might be miscommunication between newspapers, family members, and the funeral home
, often resulting in embarrassment for everyone involved.
In November 2020, Radio France Internationale
accidentally published about 100 prewritten obituaries for celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth II
and Clint Eastwood
. The premature publication was blamed on a transition to a new content management system
Irish author Brendan Behan
said, "there is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary." In this regard, some people seek to have an unsuspecting newspaper editor publish a premature death notice or obituary as a malicious hoax, perhaps to gain revenge on the "deceased". To that end, nearly all newspapers now have policies requiring that death notices come from a reliable source (such as a funeral home
), though even this has not stopped some pranksters such as Alan Abel
Many news organisations have pre-written (or pre-edited video) obituaries on file for notable individuals who are still living, allowing detailed, authoritative, and lengthy obituaries to appear very quickly after their death.
The ''Los Angeles Times'' obituary of Elizabeth Taylor
, for example, was written in 1999 after three months of research, then often updated before the actress' 2011 death.
Sometimes the prewritten obituary's subject outlives its author; an example is ''The New York Times
obituary of Taylor, written by the newspaper's theater critic Mel Gussow
, who died in 2005.
''The New York Times'' maintains a "deep reservoir" of roughly 1,600 to 1,700 advance obituaries; on average, it adds three new ones per week and uses up roughly the same number.
Even ''The New York Times'' has been occasionally blindsided by the unforeseen early demise of certain celebrities like James Gandolfini
, thereby forcing reporters to research and write obituaries on short notice.
Obituaries are a notable feature of ''The Economist
'', which publishes one full-page obituary per week, reflecting on the subject's life and influence on world history. Past subjects have ranged from Ray Charles
to Uday Hussein
to George Floyd
The ''British Medical Journal
'' encourages doctors to write their own obituaries for publication after their death.
publishes a series called ''The Daily Telegraph
Book of Obituaries'', which are anthologies
of obituaries under a common theme, such as military obituaries, sports obituaries, heroes and adventurers, entertainers, rogues, eccentric lives, etc.
For numerous summer seasons, CBC Radio One
has run ''The Late Show
'', a radio documentary
series which presents extended obituaries of interesting Canadians
* Lists of deaths by year
* Lists of people by cause of death
* He never married
''Obituary examples - Sympathies.co''
Tips for finding obituaries
Category:Acknowledgements of death