(513) 231-2000 Cincinnati, OH
(859) 261-8560 Newport, KY

What’s the Difference Between a Death Notice & Obituary? June 27, 2024


In this age of viral news and instant social media, it may be difficult to imagine a time when communication was not always so quick and seamless.

It was only a few generations ago that the Pony Express was the quickest way to get messages across the country. It, of course, gave way to the telegraph, but it could still take weeks for news of the death of a family member or loved one to reach all who cared. Even less than a hundred years ago, death notices were displayed in the windows of a popular local establishment to spread the word of the death of an individual.

These early “Death Notices” were generally straightforward and simple. They would state the bare essentials surrounding a death. As newspapers became increasingly available, the ability to expand on the contributions of an individual throughout their life became more readily available. Once reserved for the rich, famous, and influential, obituaries became more commonplace.

Whether it was a century ago or today, spreading the news of the death of a family member or loved one can still be difficult and emotionally draining.

This was, and is, the basic purpose of a death notice or obituary.

What are the differences between a death notice and an obituary? How have they changed through the years, and what is required in them?

Death Notices VS Obituaries

Generally speaking, death notices have always been basic: short, notices placed in a newspaper notifying the public of a person’s passing. They included only basic information about the deceased and the dates of their birth and death.

Obituaries, on the other hand, are usually more celebratory in nature, offering a more personal glimpse into the life of the person.

Some states may still require death notices where creditors are concerned.


There can be fees associated with both death notices and obituaries that are placed in local newspapers. In larger newspapers, these can be significant. Fees may be charged by the word, line, or number of days published.

Alternatives to Printed Obituaries

Today, there are a number of low- and no-fee options for publishing obituaries online. Some community news websites exist that publish obituaries, as do the websites of funeral homes that may be hosting services.

It can be helpful for obituaries to be written by someone with good writing and communication skills. Accuracy is critical, and an obituary should be reviewed by family members.

The Role of Modern Obituaries

Today’s digital obituaries often allow family members a way to expand on the contributions of their loved ones. They often include hobbies, favorite sports teams, and vacation spots. They remain an important final way to recognize the life of an individual.

Have Questions?

If you have questions about placing a death notice or obituary in a Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky newspaper or digital publication, we can help. Reach out to us at Fares J. Radel Funeral Homes and Crematory. Services may change and traditions may evolve. Our caring remains constant. We would be proud to serve you.

Post a comment