The terms death notice and obituary are sometimes used interchangeably and in some areas may even be the same. But traditionally the two are different things serving different purposes.
A death notice is an announcement of a death in a local newspaper. It is paid for and can be referred to as a classified advertisement. Typically, it is only a few lines and includes the next of kin, any service information, where donations can be made and final disposition. This is usually just a simple and quick announcement notifying the public of someone’s death.
An obituary is more of an editorial or biography of a deceased person’s life. Often paragraphs long, it is a detailed narrative of someone’s life and often paints a picture of who the person was by telling more about their life story. These will include next of kin and service information as well. You’ll find obituaries in newspapers, newsletters, magazines, social media sites and websites. These vary in cost depending on where they’re posted and many services are out there to help you write one.
There is no law that requires someone to post a death notice or an obituary. Deciding which one to use will depend on how you want to share the information about someone’s passing. It is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong decision.