Writing an Obituary

What is an Obituary?

An obituary goes beyond a simple farewell to the departed; it is a poignant account that chronicles the life of the deceased individual. Not only does it announce the passing, but it also provides essential information about memorial services. It’s crucial to gauge the available space in the newspaper before embarking on the writing process, as limitations may exist. Planning is key, and considering the lead time required for print publication is essential—typically a few days before the memorial service. We’ve outlined some tips to make this task more manageable.

Obituary Writing Steps

What to Include

Include the full name, location, and date of passing to avoid confusion. Optionally, consider adding a black & white or color photograph with potential extra charges. Mention the deceased’s residence (street, city, region). Briefly highlight significant life events, such as education, degrees, vocations, and interests. Omit street numbers for security reasons.


The obituary typically lists surviving relatives by relationship (parents, spouse, children, adopted, half- & step-children, siblings, half- & step-siblings, grandparents). Exceptions may be made for unique cases. Special friends or companions are mentioned only upon request. Details on funeral services, burial, wake, and memorials, including time and location, are included. Additional information like where the body will be laid to rest and names of pallbearers or honorary pallbearers may be provided.

Dos & Don'ts

To begin crafting an obituary, gain inspiration from others, focusing on personal and touching anecdotes. When suggesting memorial donations, avoid the phrase “in lieu of flowers” and seamlessly introduce the topic in the final paragraph with “Memorial donations may be made to.” Consider submitting the obituary to newspapers in additional cities for a broader reach, especially in places where the deceased previously lived. Obtain extra copies to share with distant relatives and friends, fostering connections during this challenging time.

Final Consideration

Before publishing an obituary, it is crucial to verify all information with another family member for accuracy. Additionally, it is advisable to confirm with the funeral home handling the arrangements to ensure the deceased is indeed under their care. Keep in mind that newspapers often charge by the word for obituaries, so it may not always be feasible to include every detail you desire. Use your discretion and prioritize information, taking care not to impose any financial hardship on yourself. Your loved one would surely understand.

Rapid City Journal Obituary Policy

The Rapid City Journal has specific deadlines for obituaries based on the day of the week they are intended to be published.
  • Tuesday publication – Monday 11am deadline
  • Thursday publication – Wednesday 11am deadline
  • Saturday publication – Friday 11am deadline
The preferred method of submission is to have the funeral home email the obituary to obits@rapidcityjournal.com.

Death Notice & Memorial Obituary

The death notice includes essential details such as the name, age, residence, date of death, and information about the upcoming services for the deceased. For those opting for a memorial obituary, which incurs a charge, family and friends have the flexibility to personalize the tribute according to their preferences. This allows for the inclusion of additional details about the person’s life, professional endeavors, community involvement, accolades, special interests, or any other significant aspects. Obituary information can be submitted conveniently through the journal’s website or via the funeral home.


Personalizing a funeral adds a unique and heartfelt touch, offering a comforting and meaningful experience for attendees.

Order Flowers

Ordering flowers online allows you to effortlessly express emotions and convey heartfelt sentiments through the timeless beauty of blooms.

Grief Resources

Grief resources offer vital support and guidance for individuals coping with loss, providing tools and community for healing.