Suicide Funerals: A Difficult Reality

How to Write an Obituary for a Suicide Death

The planning and preparation of the funeral of a loved one often comes unexpectedly, and no one is really prepared. But when your loved one’s death was the result of suicide, it is even more difficult. A death by suicide is painful to talk about and to reveal in an obituary, so below are some points to help you when writing your loved one’s announcement.

How do I write an appropriate obituary?

One of the first challenges you will face is the way your loved one passed. How do you word the announcement knowing that friends, family, and strangers will find out how they died? Suicide is still taboo in our society, and you might feel embarrassed, afraid, or nervous about writing the truth into the obituary. You are not alone with these feelings, and you should not be ashamed of them. There are several options ahead of you in regards to the obituary.

Your first option is to reveal the truth from the start, and the obituary is an opportunity to do that. Many people feel hesitant to write that their loved one “committed suicide,” because the word “commit” is often associated with crimes or sins. Some alternatives include “death by suicide,” “self-inflicted death,” “completed suicide,” or “took their own life.” If applicable, you could simply say that they overdosed.

Your second option is to leave out the cause of death. It may sound unorthodox, but if you’d feel more comfortable avoiding the topic altogether, then it’s up to you. There is no need to feel pressured to disclose everything. There are phrases you can use, such as “died unexpectedly,” “passed away,” or “left this life.” You can focus on their life and positive things about them, mention the grief felt by their loved ones, and emphasize that many people are mourning for their loss.

Thirdly, you could forego the obituary altogether. There are pros and cons to this option. It keeps the truth among family and close friends. This option will most likely reduce the number of people at the funeral. This doesn’t necessarily put a stop to rumors and questions, but allows people to reach out to those who know what happened, hopefully alleviating some of your stress.

Whatever you choose to do with the obituary, know that there is no wrong option. Since this burden has fallen on your shoulders, you get to decide how much you can handle and what you want to share publicly. What matters at this time is remembrance and reverence, and it’s important that you take care of yourself.

 

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