Obituary

Obituary

Overview

An obituary 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
Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

. 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.

Two types of paid advertisements are related to obituaries.
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Encyclopedia

An obituary 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
Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

. 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.

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
Public notice
Public notice is a notice given to the public regarding certain types of legal proceedings.-By government:Public notices are issued by a government agency or legislative body in certain rulemaking or lawmaking proceeding....

 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
Funeral home
A funeral home, funeral parlor or mortuary, is a business that provides burial and funeral services for the deceased and their families. These services may include aprepared wake and funeral, and the provision of a chapel for the funeral....

. Both types of paid advertisements are usually run as classified advertisements.

Premature obituaries


By definition, obituaries should always be posthumous, But occasionally obituaries are published, either accidentally or intentionally, while the person concerned is still alive. Most are due to hoaxes, confusions between people with similar names, or the unexpected survival of someone who was close to death. Some others are published because of miscommunication between newspapers, family members and the funeral home
Funeral home
A funeral home, funeral parlor or mortuary, is a business that provides burial and funeral services for the deceased and their families. These services may include aprepared wake and funeral, and the provision of a chapel for the funeral....

, usually resulting in embarrassment for everyone involved.

Irish author Brendan Behan
Brendan Behan
Brendan Francis Behan was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both Irish and English. He was also an Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army.-Early life:...

 said that there is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary. In this regard, some people will 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
Funeral home
A funeral home, funeral parlor or mortuary, is a business that provides burial and funeral services for the deceased and their families. These services may include aprepared wake and funeral, and the provision of a chapel for the funeral....

), though even this has not stopped some pranksters such as Alan Abel
Alan Abel
Alan Abel is an American prankster, hoaxter, writer, mockumentary filmmaker, and jazz percussionist famous for several hoaxes that became media circuses.- Education and early career :...

.

Media


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
Elizabeth Taylor
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor, DBE was a British-American actress. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age...

, 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
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 obituary of Taylor, written by the newspaper's theater critic Mel Gussow
Mel Gussow
Melvyn H. Gussow was an American theater critic, movie critic, and author who wrote for The New York Times for 35 years.-Biography:...

, who died in 2005.

Obituaries are a notable feature of The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

, 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
Ray Charles
Ray Charles Robinson , known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records...

 to Uday Hussein
Uday Hussein
Uday Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti , was the eldest son of Saddam Hussein from his first wife, Sajida Talfah. He was the brother of Qusay Hussein. Uday was for several years seen as the heir apparent of his father; however, Uday lost his place in the line of succession due to his erratic behavior and...

.

The British Medical Journal
British Medical Journal
BMJ is a partially open-access peer-reviewed medical journal. Originally called the British Medical Journal, the title was officially shortened to BMJ in 1988. The journal is published by the BMJ Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Medical Association...

 encourages doctors to write their own obituaries for publication after their death.

Pan Books
Pan Books
Pan Books is an imprint which first became active in the 1940s and is now part of the British-based Macmillan Publishers owned by German publishers, Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group....

 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
CBC Radio One
CBC Radio One is the English language news and information radio network of the publicly-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It is commercial free and offers both local and national programming...

 has run The Late Show
The Late Show (CBC radio)
The Late Show is a radio documentary program that first aired on CBC Radio One in the summer of 2008 with a second season in the summer of 2010 and a third in 2011. Hosted by Gordon Pinsent, The Late Show presents documentaries which are essentially extended obituaries about of ordinary, but...

, a radio documentary
Radio documentary
A radio documentary or feature is a purely acoustic performance devoted to covering a particular topic in some depth, usually with a mixture of commentary and sound pictures. It is broadcast on radio or published on audio media, such as tape or CD...

 series which presents extended obituaries of interesting Canadians
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

.

See also



  • Eulogy
    Eulogy
    A eulogy is a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially one recently deceased or retired. Eulogies may be given as part of funeral services. However, some denominations either discourage or do not permit eulogies at services to maintain respect for traditions...

  • Funeral
    Funeral
    A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

  • List of premature obituaries
  • Lists of people by cause of death
  • Recent deaths

External links