An obituary attempts to sometimes give an account of the texture and significance of the life of someone who has recently died. It is to be distinguished from a death notice (also known as a funeral notice), which is a paid advertisement written by family members and placed in the newspaper either by the family or the funeral home.
Many news organizations have on file pre-written obituaries for notable individuals who are still alive; allowing detailed, authoritative - and lengthy - obituaries to appear very quickly after these people die.Occasionally the author of an obituary will die before its subject. For example, Walter Sullivan's obituary of the noted physicist James Van Allen was published by the AP after Van Allen's death in 2006, even though Sullivan predeceased Van Allen by almost a decade.In 2006, Bill McDonald of the New York Times answered readers' questions about obituaries as part of the Times's ''Talk to the Newsroom'' feature. He confirmed that