One of the most frequent questions I receive is: How do you correct an obituary?
The answer depends on several factors. When was the obituary published? What information needs to be corrected? Who made the mistake?
Scenario #1: Newspaper made a typo in a recent obituary.
You recently sent an obituary to your local newspaper. Unfortunately, the newspaper made a typo or error in the copy. The error could be a misspelled name, wrong date or time, incorrect address, missing information, or other typo.
In this situation, you should contact the newspaper immediately and ask them to correct and reprint the obituary. The newspaper should not charge you for the reprinting, since the mistake was their fault. However, please be kind and understanding when you call the staff. They are terribly understaffed and overworked these days, and did not do it on purpose.
Scenario #2: You wrote the wrong date in a recent obituary.
While writing an obituary, you accidentally typed the wrong birthdate for the deceased. You did not realize your error and sent it to the newspaper. In this situation, you submitted the wrong information. To correct the obituary, you need to contact the newspaper, explain the error, and then pay to have the corrected obituary published. Yes, it’s a bummer. Obituaries can be costly, depending on the size of the newspaper. But don’t beat yourself up.
After all, obituary writing is stressful. It’s OK if you made a mistake. Take responsibility and correct it. And remember, always ask a family member (or two) to review an obituary before submitting it to the newspaper.
Scenario #3: You discover an error in an obituary published online.
Online or digital obituaries are usually easy and inexpensive to correct. Online obituaries may be published on a funeral home website or in a digital newspaper. The staff will usually allow edits and update the obituary copy for you. As always, ask nicely.
Scenario #4: You discover an error in an ancestor’s obituary from long ago.
Correcting an old obituary is more difficult. You’re probably not going to pay to publish a corrected version of the obituary in today’s newspapers. Instead, you could submit a corrected obituary to popular genealogy sites, like Ancestry.com, where others who are searching for family information will find the correct information.