Ok so they were married for a good 15+ years and then they divorced for two and were remarried. They then separated living in different houses BUT still dated for the remainder of the time and remained married. We have NO idea how to address this. They both developed dementia and Alzheimer’s at the same time. We lost her first and his Alzheimer’s was too progressed for him to ‘explain’ or define their relationship and now he has passed away and we are having a rough time deciding what we could write appropriately for the entire family on both sides. There are some ill feelings between some family members towards the two deceased but it is HIS obituary not theirs and they weren’t there for it all and we are trying to handle this as sensitively as possibly.
First, I am very sorry for all your family has been dealing with – Alzheimer’s and Dementia are hard enough and then the added grief from losing a loved one combined with tender feelings within the family – you certainly have your hands full.
Now – to address your question, your last sentence about it being “his” obituary is most definitely the right perspective to take. We have a “rule of thumb” when it comes to difficult relationships and funerals, and that is simply “it’s not about you – it is about the deceased.” You will not be able to make everyone happy no matter how you write the obituary, but if you focus on the deceased (and not who you are going to offend), then I think you will have done the right thing and honored him. The details of the ins and outs of their relationship do not need to be mentioned at all in the obituary.
When it comes to listing survivors in the obituaries, stick to just the facts. You typically follow the order of the next of kin. (Spouse, then children, then grandchildren, siblings, etc.) Since his spouse had passed, she would be named as a predecessor in death. Then list his children in order from oldest to youngest as survivors, then step-children, then any siblings.
I hope this was helpful. We certainly extend our condolences for your loss, and wish you the best as you navigate through the uncertainty ahead.