Guide me on obituary/wake invitation design for a dear friend
July 17, 2007 3:01 AM   Subscribe

A member of my community has recently died from cancer. I offered to design an invitation for his wake and could use some guidance.

I didn't know him nearly well enough, but he touched my heart in the same way as he did his closer friends, just more briefly.

I was just informed that my offer to design an invitation would be welcome but due to circumstances, I only have until Friday to put something together. I won't have more details for another day or so, but need a jump on the thought-process since my brain needs time to 'compost' data.

My question is two-fold:

a: Wording? He was always informal. An awesome "drunk", a good soul, a team-member in our volley-ball group, a person who lived life for his friends and the interactions we all had, and had/has an incredible partner that saw him all the way through these hardest times.

All I find for format online and in newsprint is formal obituary style. How do I phrase it to be true to his personality? Any ideas for formatting to appropriately fill either an 8 1/2 x 11 or half-sheet? centered, left-justified, ???

b: Graphics? I honestly don't know if it will be print or web/email. Probably figure low(ish)-quality printing at worst, web at best. Should a picture be top/bottom/or faded line-drawing-style on the background?

Assume it's black and white. Can I do anything with a picture of him that makes him "there" without looking like a cheap cut&paste? If anyone would offer to photoshop a line-drawing from a picture of him that would work for a background for text(email is in my profile), I would appreciate the help with my inadequacy.

I'm obviously a little over my head with this atm, but no-one else is stepping up to create something worthy. I have the basic skills(mostly InDesign), some time, and the desire to honor his life in a way that I can.
posted by a_green_man to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
Awesome people deserve awesome obituaries so i don't think you'll have to be too concerned with the wording.

Just write something that is true to the guys character and things will be just fine.

If I died my death wake would be the last party I ever hosted and I would like it to be an awesome party with awesome invitations to go with it.

Sorry I cant give any real advice but I'm pretty sure that as long as you don't end up with something disrespectful you really cant go wrong here.
posted by uandt at 6:20 AM on July 17, 2007

Condolences for the loss of your friend. I put together a funeral program for my grandmother and also set up a memorial notice for the family member of a friend, both on short notice. My only advice for wording is to keep it brief. Less said feels more profound, though for a wake, you might want to attempt to memorialize some of this person's special qualities and identifies him as part of your group, in a way that says "we celebrate what you were to us".

However, if you don't know this person as well as others do, it may be hard for you to do this accurately. I actually ran out to a few used bookstores to look for some death-related resources and found an interesting volume called The Oxford Book of Death. It was full of quotes and excerpts from famous literature (Shakespeare, Wordsworth) that spoke to different aspects of death and mourning. I found an appropriate quote to use in there. You might be able to find something like this at your local library.

I set up my grandmother's program to print on half of an 8.5 x 11 sheet, so that the sheet was cut in half and folded into a 4.25 x 5.5 "booklet". I did the printing at Kinkos, black ink on off-white cardstock. El cheapo, but it came out fine. I think white space, in this case, can be used generously to convey a sense of slience and respect. A unique serif font might also lend a certain gravitas.

For graphics, I also found a couple of old/antique books that had interesting graphics, including a religious one with woodblock-type images of crosses, doves, and fountains. I "borrowed" one of these images for the front of the cover. If you want to use a photo, I'd keep it centered and framed. It strikes me that you don't handle a photo of the deceased in the same "creative" way you might handle one of the living. Picture quality really depends on your decision to go print or electronic. Black and white reproduction of a color photo can be difficult to work with, without it looking like a newspaper obit. If you have access to photoshop, you can convert it to grayscale and pump up the contrast a bit.
posted by amusebuche at 6:21 AM on July 17, 2007

I've been seeing a number of flyers posted around here with info on memorial services for young people who have died. I don't know any of the people so I don't know how true to character the write-ups have been, but the ones that catch my eye and tear at my hear tend to be short on text and big on white space. There's something about all that white space that, to me, is pretty much the ultimate symbol of death -- a page of life that will never be written, or a page that we will have to write without the other person as co-author.

The text used is often something like, "We celebrate the life of John, who was a good soul, an awesome drunk, an amazing partner to [his partner's name], a kick-ass volleyball teammate, and a person who lived a life of joy, friendship, and love." Followed by the event details.
posted by occhiblu at 10:00 AM on July 17, 2007

I think occhiblu's got it.

Here's a link to my dad's funeral booklet (pdf) and his obituary. Some of the language is formal but some isn't. Hopefully that helps a bit.
posted by MeetMegan at 12:33 PM on July 17, 2007

This might not apply for your late friend, but for the funeral of a young boy who had been killed in an accident, the memento was made in the shape of a bookmark. Obviously, he had a short life so there was not a great deal to say about him. A picture of him was at the top, then dob, played soccer etc., were listed down the length.
posted by Cranberry at 1:25 PM on July 17, 2007

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