Obituary Ghostwriter: When You Need To Hire One

Feb 26, 2024 | Ghostwriting

Claim your Free E-Book

How to Hire a Ghostwriter

There isn’t a person amongst us who hasn’t lost someone close to us. One of the hardest parts of losing someone, whether that be a spouse, friend or parent, can often come down to getting your feelings out. In those instances, where shock and grief become overwhelming, it may be helpful to work with an obituary ghostwriter, to help tell your loved one’s story. 

Life stories are always a challenge. This is true whether the subject is living or recently deceased. One thing I’ve learned in my career as a memoir ghostwriter and professional manuscript consultant, is that getting across who a person really is (or, in the case of an obituary, was) can create monumental difficulty. People are complex. Life takes twists and turns, often unexpected. Sometimes we lack enough perspective, even on our own lives, to tell a story.

When challenging life stories are the order, people bring on someone like me as their ghostwriter. With an objective eye, good listening skills, and writing skills, I help paint that picture. 

Does writing an obituary count for that? I think so. 

Advantages To A Obituary Ghostwriter

If we take those challenges I just wrote about as fact, then try and imagine executing that life story while dealing with the shock of loss. Feelings of grief that unexpectedly ebb and surge, taking over us. I’ve worked with people who even many years after losing someone important to them, struggle to speak clearly and objectively about that person.

The advantage to working with an obituary ghostwriter is professional distance. An experienced writer, almost like a therapist, knows how to engage the subject while not getting too involved. After so many years, I have learned to listen deeply, empathically, while retaining the clarity necessary to ask the necessary questions to capture the story.

Another advantage to an obituary ghostwriter is, of course, professional writing talent. Take one look at the cost of the average newspaper obituary, costing hundreds of dollars in most cases, and it tells us that those words are valuable. They’re valuable not just in telling your loved one’s story, but on a sheer cost-per-word basis. On line or in print, an obituary is expensive. .

If you’re going to spend the money to get your family member’s story in front of people, you may as well go the rest of the way in developing a compelling narrative.

obituary ghostwriter, portland oregon, erick mertz

The One Real Advantage 

Let’s talk about the critical factor of time. When someone passes away, whether suddenly or expected, the list of to-do items for those close to them increases exponentially.

Survivors are tasked with contacting family. They call around setting up services and arranging for burial (or whatever that person’s wishes are). Do they really have the time to sit down and pen a well-written narrative? Some people do, that’s for sure, but most people do not. In most cases, the obituary becomes the thing that happens last minute.

If there is one “most beneficial” reason to hire an obituary ghostwriter, it’s the saving of precious time. Bring someone on and let them do the work, allowing yourself to commit to those other to-do items.

Are There Disadvantages?

In the wake of someone’s passing, emotions can run hot and high. You’ve probably seen it before. People who are dealing with grief and all of its associated emotions, lose perspective on even the smallest things. 

It’s a tough time; maybe the toughest most of us will ever face. This is precisely why professional therapists refer to the grieving process as “navigating”. Just like the open seas, there are dangers about, not always expected. Grief and sadness change people. 

Hard decisions, like hiring an obituary ghostwriter, can become divisive. For unexpected reasons, a person might react negatively to that news.

“You hired someone to do what?”

“You couldn’t do it yourself? Why did you bring on a stranger?”

Most families have a young writer in their midst, someone who has always wanted to try their hand at telling a story. The chore of writing an obituary may fall to that person. This can be a great choice. Family members want, or even need, to rise to the occasion in order to process those feelings. 

Of course, even in that instance, that decision can come under fire.   

obituary ghostwriter, portland oregon, erick mertz

Obituary Ghostwriter & The Bottom Line   

Let’s circle back to the central idea that times of loss and grief are challenging. There are a lot of decisions to make and, quite often, sneaky feelings of pressure to get them done in a timely manner by people who are being stretched to their limits. 

Times of loss are imperfect. We’re usually just doing our best to get by. 

It may be best to say that, in times of loss, being good to yourself is the ultimate key. If writing that obituary yourself feels right, by all means, go ahead and write it. Find that niece or nephew who wants to show their respect by writing it then that’s the right choice for that family.

If being good to yourself is the freedom to take something off your plate, then you should feel empowered to hire an obituary ghostwriter. Bringing on a professional isn’t impersonal. It’s not a slight to your loved one. A sense of professionalism and discretion in the process of telling your loved one’s story may be a part, albeit small, of the healing process.