A Little Bit About Obits: What You Should Know About Obituaries

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Obituaries—like everything else in our world—evolve over time. The earliest records of obituaries can be found as far back as early Rome in a papyrus newspaper.

Holley Sowards

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May 5, 2021

Obituaries—like everything else in our world—evolve over time. The earliest records of obituaries can be found as far back as early Rome in a papyrus newspaper. In the United States, newspapers shared death articles in the 1600s, and these mostly featured prominent members of the community. It wasn’t until the 1800s that death notices became more regularly published about the common citizen.

The features of the obituary have changed over the centuries as well. From simple notices to articles about the deceased the obituary further transformed into morbid tidbits then poems. At one time, newspapers even employed a staff person to write obituaries for families. In the 21st century—specifically the past 10 years—the way we consume content through technology and the decline of newspapers altered the obituary again.

According to a Pew Research study in 2020, newspaper circulation in 2018 dropped to its lowest level since 1940. When this progression began several years ago, families expressed concerns about the ability to notify others about the death of their loved one. Our team chose to allay that worry by investing in our website to offer far greater digital choices to celebrate the life of the lost loved one.

Hartford Courant 1 - A Little Bit About Obits: What You Should Know About Obituaries

Sharing memories of a life is healing.

Our Funeral Directors work with families to write an obituary that is shared to our website for public viewing. This complimentary service provides families with an opportunity to:

  • Reveal the life, love, and family of the departed in many paragraphs – it’s digital, so the information is not limited.
  • Post multiple photos of the loved one.
  • Share a video about the life of a loved one or the memories they created.
  • Open a Guestbook to allow family, friends, and even acquaintances to remember. This simple act creates unknown connections and facilitates healing for everyone.

We still include the traditional information as well:

  • Dates of birth and death
  • Funeral or Celebration of Life details

How will it be found?

Once the obituary is posted to our website, family and friends can visit the obituary portion of the site to search for their loved one. Then, that website link can easily be copied and forwarded through social media platforms, texts, or even emails. Lastly, with the family’s permission—we share the information on our Sunset Gardens Facebook Page. This is another avenue to share the information as well as promote memories.

Maryland Gazette 1761 1 - A Little Bit About Obits: What You Should Know About Obituaries

What about the newspaper obituary?

Families who wish to place a notification have two options.

First is a death notice. This is a brief, two or three sentence note sharing the name, age, date of death a personal fact, and the arrangements for the deceased. Our Funeral Directors can facilitate this option for the Tri-City Herald if a family chooses, at no additional cost.

Second is an obituary through the newspaper. We provide families with the contact information and details to place with the Tri-City Herald. It’s a process requiring tight deadlines including payment, and it’s most efficiently handled by the family of the loved one to ensure the information is accurate and timely.

Whatever path you choose, find a way to share the memories.

Holley provides more details in this video including examples to help you prepare.

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Holley Sowards

Hi, my name is Holley with Einan’s at Sunset Funeral Home in Richland, WA. I'm a Ketchup-loving, fearless leader and Service and Operations manager who writes about resources for families recently experiencing loss.
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