Notifying close relatives and friends about the death, can be a rather emotional task for the next of kin.
Historically it was a custom to send notification in a black-edged envelope, but with the availability of modern communication methods, more people are communicating the news telephone or e-mail.
It will helpful to delegate the task to others, if there is a long list of people involved. Your friends will be only too willing to help you during this time. It is always handy to have a list of people and strike them off as you contact them.
Your loved one may have been prepared and made a list of those to contact, but if not available you might start with their address books. Remember that not all the information might be updated.
If telephoning, you should try and keep the message short, simple and clear. You might find it helpful to write down the message you want to say. Prepare the people for the worst by starting off with something like “I’m afraid I have some bad news”. It is a good practice to include the name with the relationship to the person you are calling. e.g. Your Uncle Andrew Smith. While you might think it sounds too harsh, it is better to use the word ‘die’ rather than ‘passed away’ or ‘passed on’ as these can be misinterpreted or need you to repeat yourself or explain what that means further, which can prolong the message and which makes the conversation emotionally more challenging.
The people on the other side of your call will doubtless express sympathy and shock and might ask for details of how it happened. They may ask for details of the funeral. At this stage you may not know those details but can simply inform them that you will notify them at a later date.
For people you don’t have a telephone number for, send them a short note by first class mail including your telephone number or e-mail. You can use special cards or note lets but ordinary note paper is quite acceptable.
Typically, an announcement in the press should only be made after you get the details of the funeral. If the deceased is a well-known person, you may wish to contact the editor of the local newspaper before funeral arrangements have been confirmed.