Home > Formalities > Announcing a Death

Announcing a Death

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 28 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Announcing A Death

In the past, placing an obituary in the local newspaper served as an efficient means of informing the community of a loved one’s death but today there is a large segment of society that would rarely if ever read the obituary columns. Instead, a variety of methods of announcing a death have become common though obituaries remain traditional. While most close family members and friends should be notified in person, others can be told of a death via an obituary, an online announcement, a letter or email, over the phone or even via a press release.

Obituaries
An obituary is a brief announcement, usually no longer than a paragraph, announcing someone’s death and briefly describing his or her life. Most often obituaries are placed in local or national newspapers and include details of the funeral, cremation, burial or memorial service that has been arranged. The deceased’s full name, date and place of death, date and place of birth, educational and employment history, sporting achievements and hobbies or interests may also be included in an obituary. If it has been arranged for donations to go to a particular charity or fund, these details may be included in an obituary too.

Online Obituaries
The same obituary that is published in a newspaper may be published online if the deceased was active at a particular site, forum or blog. By posting the obituary online it is likely that those who were in contact with the deceased will be informed of his or her death and will appreciate the notice. As these people may be from around the world, it is likely that they would never be informed of the death otherwise.

Letter or Email
If there are friends or colleagues who should know of your loved one’s death but who live out of the area, or will not otherwise be notified of the passing, it is perfectly acceptable to send a letter or even an email announcing the death. If a letter is handwritten, you might consider enclosing a copy of the obituary or if you are sending an email you could attach a link to an online notice (if there is one). Though it is not traditional to use electronic communication to announce a death, there are times when the expediency of this method makes it the best option. If you know that the person to whom you are sending the email will not be affronted by this mode of communication then don’t be overly concerned about tradition.

Telephone Calls
Telling family members, friends or colleagues about a loved one’s death over the phone is not necessarily an ideal situation. It can be awkward to gauge emotions over the phone and it can seem almost impossible to adequately comfort someone through a phone line. Texting the news of the death of a family member or close friend is almost never appropriate. If it is necessary to make this announcement over the phone, at least try to ensure that the person you are contacting is at home or otherwise in private so that (s)he has time to deal with the news in his or her own way.

Press Release
There are some circumstances, such as if the deceased was a high ranking public or corporate official, or if (s)he was a member of particular boards or other offices, in which a press release is customary upon a death. However, these releases will almost certainly be written by someone within the organisation itself so all you will need to do is supply them with appropriate details.

There is never an easy way to announce a death, but today there are many options for this tough situation. Obituaries will always remain the most traditional method of announcing a death, but if other methods are more expedient or personal then by all means use them. Do what you feel comfortable with, but remember that since your news may come as a shock however you choose to announce it - the method should be dignified and respectful.

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Myste - Your Question:
On Friday, February 16, 2018, I was asked to identify my sister's body by the police. My mother then managed to get hold of all paperwork, and is in the process of claiming any pension she can get from my sisters "property" for herself. However, although I KNOW my sister had a will, it now cannot be found. I do not want the money, all I want is for my sister to have a decent funeral (Cremation). Mother wants to claim from Bereavement Fund, for this, so she can use the pension, for herself. This is outrageous. She intends making sure that no creditors are notified. She is even claiming herself as Next of Kin. I also KNOW my sister would never have listed our mother as Next of Kin. Mother feels that as "she is the biological mother", she has more rights than any of us. She has completely locked me out of finding out from the coroners what happened to my sister, or getting a copy of the Death Certificate. How can I get this?

Our Response:
Funeral expenses have to be paid out of the estate. If you feel your mother is acting incorrectly seek professional legal advice. Note that if a person dies without a Will and had no living spouse/civil partner, no children or grand-children, then estate will be divided equally between their parents. If the deceased has no living parents, the estate will be divided equally between their brothers and sisters.
FacingBereavement - 2-Mar-18 @ 3:21 PM
On Friday, February 16, 2018, I was asked to identify my sister's body by the police.My mother then managed to get hold of all paperwork, and is in the process of claiming any pension she can get from my sisters "property" for herself. However, although I KNOW my sister had a will, it now cannot be found. I do not want the money, all I want is for my sister to have a decent funeral (Cremation). Mother wants to claim from Bereavement Fund, for this, so she can use the pension, for herself. This is outrageous. She intends making sure that no creditors are notified. She is even claiming herself as Next of Kin.I also KNOW my sister would never have listed our mother as Next of Kin. Mother feels that as "she is the biological mother", she has more rights than any of us. She has completely locked me out of finding out from the coroners what happened to my sister, or getting a copy of the Death Certificate. How can I get this?
Myste - 28-Feb-18 @ 8:56 PM
I have carried out a Principle Registry search.No record of Probate was found. The Estate is likely to have been substantial and most probably bequeathed to the son. What should I do next?
Josh103 - 7-Oct-13 @ 10:48 PM
Elder Bobby Wilson Lewis entered into this life in November 6th 1939 and blessedly entered into eternal life with the Lord Jesus Christ on February 9th 2013.
Bob - 10-Feb-13 @ 7:19 PM
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