Should You Do an Obituary?
When a family member passes you may consider doing an obituary. Before you do, consider these helpful tips.
Should You Do an Obituary?

For some time, publishing an obituary in the local newspaper has been a common practice. It’s part of the overall handling of affairs after a death. And the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t upset the obituary process like it did funerals and even cremations. 

Despite its prevalence, more and more people are questioning the need for publishing an obituary, especially after they find out how much it costs.

Here’s a closer look at what to consider when you’re deciding whether or not to publish an obituary. 

Obituaries and the Law

The first thing to consider is whether there is any legal requirement that a public announcement of a death be made in the form of an obituary. The short answer is no. There’s no law that requires an obituary be published. It’s simply a social norm.

However, the law does require that a death certificate be on file. Usually, the death certificate has to be sent to the state vital statistics department so that the death can be recorded. 

Is There a Cost for Publishing an Obituary?

In a 2017 study 88% of 1,000 participants said they would publish an obituary in the local newspaper if a loved one passed away – until they heard the price. Once participants found out that most obituaries cost a few hundred dollars before including a picture they changed their minds. 

Generally, there is a cost related to putting an obituary in a publication. Exactly how much it will cost varies from one publication to the next and can also depend on the obituary itself. For example, a newspaper may charge by inch, line or word. 

Factors that affect an obituary’s price include:

  • The publications number of subscribers.
  • The number of days the obituary will run.
  • If an image is included.
  • The length of the obituary.

Obituary costs have been reported at anywhere from $100-$800 in a traditional publication. The average is around $200-$400. Much more than most people expect. 

There are some small newspapers that will publish short obituaries for free or a much smaller flat fee, but they are few and far between. 

Alternatives to Traditional Obituaries

Luckily today there are alternatives to costly traditional obituaries. In some instances, these are an even better option because they reach more people and there are fewer limitations. 

Those same newspapers that charge hundreds for an obituary in print may offer a cheaper alternative. Many newspapers, magazines and other publications will publish online obituaries for a much lower rate. It should be no more than $65-$75, but could be far less. And that usually includes at least one image and the length is less of a concern.

Some people are choosing to forgo the formal obituary altogether and handle the announcement themselves on social media. Facebook is regularly used to create memorial pages that serve as public announcements. 

Of course, the announcement is then limited to people who have an account on the social platform. And if you want to make the memorial page private then even fewer people would see it. For some people, that’s actually ideal. They’d prefer that the announcement be semi-private and limited to just those who knew the deceased. 

Direct Cremate helps more families take part in traditions like publishing an obituary with less financial stress. Saving on the cremation allows families to allocate funds for other purposes that make the process more meaningful. Take control of the cremation process and reduce the cost.

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