There are many ways to say farewell from formal funeral services to private home-setting celebrations. They all form a part of the way we say goodbye. Obituaries or death notices, however, are a public way we share our final farewell celebration. It is part of the way we say goodbye - the public posting of final words. Some obituaries indicate much thought and much reflection on the life that was lived.
A death notice is a minimal amount of information usually giving notice of one's death. It generally provides the date, time and place of funeral services. The death notice placed in a major newspaper usually incurs a fee per line and per day it is run. An obituary is usually a more detailed account of a person's life and is run at the discretion of the newspaper. It is often prepared for the newspaper from a form that the family fills out. Obituaries are a written form of collective remembrances. They remind us of others as well as ourselves - parents or grandparents of friends, the young suddenly departing, the loss of "valiant struggles" against diseases not yet conquered.
When community members leave, whether we know them personally or not, we mark their time with us by publicly commemorating their passing. The final words are one way we say goodbye and the way we will remember. These final words are often the way survivors pay tribute, perhaps make amends, and express hope for immortality.