I work at a funeral home and need assistance on an obit for an 11 year old girl who died from a 4‑wheeler accident.

My question is can I use the present tense in referring to her and what she did, sports etc. I did not want the past tense to cause any more heartache for the family. It seems, to me, to be a softer approach at this time.

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    I think you must use the past tense, even in the tragic death of an eleven year old girl. It would be very odd for it to read as though she were still alive. I'm sure your choice of words will be full of compassion and a comfort to those who knew her. – Mark Hubbard Dec 14 '16 at 20:23
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    Using the present tense, as if she were still alive, might cause even greater heartache. I would first ask her parents, or anyone close to them for their view. – Mari-Lou A Dec 14 '16 at 20:23

There are some parts of obituaries where the present tense is used, such as the "survived by" list, or something along the lines of "she is with God now". The rest of the obituary, however, is traditionally written in the past tense. This is true no matter the age of the deceased.

People expect the obituary to be in the past tense. Using the present tense would be unexpected, and for a lot of people it would not be good surprise.

The best thing for you to do is to use the past tense, just like any other obituary. Then, if you can, you should see about having someone in the family proofread it (this would also help ensure that the obituary is accurate, and you're not butchering someone's name). If they make the request on their own, then it would probably be OK to change it.

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