Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Dear Globe and Mail reader,

Lives Lived celebrates the everyday, extraordinary, unheralded lives of Canadians who have recently passed.

Writing a Lives Lived essay about a family member or a close friend who has died is an emotional experience, but it can be very satisfying.

Story continues below advertisement

You share the story of the person as you knew them, and create a lasting record of who they really were, beyond their CV.

A Lives Lived essay is a mini-biography that makes readers feel they too have gotten to know the person a little, perhaps over a drink or two.

Unlike a formal obituary, which stresses external achievements, a Lives Lived essay paints an intimate portrait of a person, complete with light and shadows. It doesn't shy away from foibles and weaknesses, but includes them in the context of strengths and lovable qualities. A couple of anecdotes that show us what the subject was like are better than a series of rose-tinted phrases.

The essay should contain a bit of basic information, such as education, marriages, children and career, but it’s even more important to tell us what the person was like.

Here are examples of some we felt were very successful:

Helen Paterson

Emma Leckey

Story continues below advertisement

Bartholomew Fergus Foley

Maryanne Fletcher Hardman

What we need

Lives Lived are to be published within six months of the subject's death; a submission should be made at least three weeks before that six-month anniversary date.

If the material has been published anywhere else, in print or online, it will need to be rewritten for Lives Lived.

Please e-mail your submission to in two forms: as a Word.doc attachment and pasted into the body of the e-mail in case we can't open the attachment. Please ensure the date of the death is in the subject line.

Story continues below advertisement

At the top of your essay, include an introductory line with four descriptive words about the person, for example "Mother, politician, tennis ace, diary-keeper," plus the date and place of birth, the date and place of death, and the age and cause of death. The submission should be about 500 words in length.

With your submission, attach a JPEG photograph that clearly shows the subject's face. A JPEG is best, and the resolution of the photo should be at least 300 dpi. A photo store can convert your snapshots into this format.

Include a contact number where you can be reached during the day.

What to expect

When you e-mail your submission, you will get an auto-response confirming receipt. You will be contacted only if your essay is chosen for publication, usually within one month of receiving it.

Your essay will be edited for stylistic reasons and for length – it needs to be about 500 words.

Story continues below advertisement

The editor may also have questions or need to verify some information, and will contact you with these questions.

There is no payment to the writer when a Lives Lived is selected; neither is there a fee charged for publication, as there is with death notices.

For the full terms and conditions that apply to your contribution, please refer to the User-Generated Content section in our Terms and Conditions.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies