A death notice should simply state the facts. Sentimentality and gushing tributes are not correct here.
Pared down, a notice should read:
PARKER – On 4th May, Ruth Iona.
However you can also include a little bit of factual information, such as key relatives and the time and place of the funeral:
PARKER – On 4th May at home. Ruth Iona, beloved wife of Michael. Funeral service at St Mark’s Church, Church Road, Bristol, Wednesday 15th May at 11am. Private family committal afterwards.
It was once practice to include the deceased’s address but common sense has stopped this as, inevitably, enterprising thieves were scouring the newspapers for ideas for their next heist. What is important now is to give enough information that readers who may have known the deceased can identify their friends & family.
In Britain, it is still thought the smartest people die in The Times or the Daily Telegraph. However, in today’s society the death notice should be placed in the newspaper that is read by the majority of the deceased’s peers. For example, if the deceased was a big figure locally then an announcement in the local newspaper is wise – especially as national newspapers charge an extortionate and distasteful amount for such notices.
An obituary is at the discretion of a newspaper editor. They cannot be bought, unlike the above death notices, and usually only appear if the deceased has been of notable prominence during their lifetime. The best obituaries are mini-biographies that present the facts of the life just lost.
Finally, remember that a person is not socially dead until the funeral has happened. That is when they become ‘the late X’.
The above is taken from a new app for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches & Blackberries that I have written on Funeral Etiquette. It should be released in the next few months. Keep checking my website for information.