How to Write a Child's Obituary

The death of a child is a difficult event to have to go through regardless of the cause of the child’s passing.

Writing an obituary for a child is usually an emotional task for the child’s parents or loved ones. The obituary must honor the child and help to celebrate his life, states Partnership for Parents. Writing the obituary is a task that can’t be put off until a later date, especially if the child will have a traditional funeral or memorial service, because the obituary also serves as a notice of the service dates and times for those interested in attending.

Call the newspapers that the obituary will be published in to find out the specific guidelines for the obituary, recommends If the child’s immediate family members and close friends live in multiple cities, consider placing the obituary in each of those cities.

Start the obituary with the child’s name and date of death. For example, "James Smith died on July 14, 2010." Some parents choose to include phrases such as "in his mother’s arms" or "surrounded by his family" to the first sentence.

Add any other information you are willing to disclose. These may include the cause of death, place of death or a brief overview of the child’s life. If the child passed away from a medical condition such as cancer or a heart defect, that information can be included. For example, "James lived most of his life at Children’s Hospital because he was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. He was a fighter and fought until the end."

Mention family members that will live on to honor the child’s life. Parents, siblings, grandparents and other close family members are included in this section. A commonly used phrase for this section is "survived by." You would write, "James is survived by his parents, Molly and John Smith, a sister, Connie, maternal grandparents Nolan and Emily Brown, and fraternal grandfather William Jones." You can also include the hometown of each family member in this section.

Note any immediate family members that passed away before the child. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents and siblings are often included in this section. One commonly used phrase for this is "preceded in death by." So, you would write, "James was preceded in death by his grandmother Jane Smith, his uncle Ryan Smith and his aunt Shelly Smith."

Include the memorial or funeral service arrangements. The time, location and any special instructions should be included in this section. An example of a special instruction would be "James enjoyed wearing camouflage, so we request that all attending his funeral wear camouflage." You can also place requests for memorials or donations in this section. For example, "In lieu of flowers, please bring a child’s toy for us to donate in James’ memory to Children’s Hospital."


Alternate phrases to the word "died" are sometimes permitted. Some examples include "earned his angel wings," "went home to Jesus," "passed away" and "went to his Heavenly home." Ask the newspaper if these are permitted if you don't want to say the child "died."

If writing the obituary is still overwhelming, ask the funeral director if the funeral home proves an obituary writing service. This may be done as part of the funeral or it may be done for an additional fee. Even if the funeral home prepares the obituary, you will still have to provide the information and approve the final draft.