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Writing a Eulogy  

Eulogy Examples

Written By Lastly.com

And Answers to Your Eulogy Questions

 

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What should a eulogy include?

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Hello Lastly.com visitors!

We know you’re here for a reason. You’ve probably lost a loved one or are preparing to lose someone close to you, and we are truly sorry for your loss. We’ve been getting a lot of questions about eulogies lately, and we want to help you through your grief process. So, we thought we’d answer your questions here as best as we can. Plus, we’re giving you some more great eulogy examples too.

Let’s get started…

 

Is a eulogy the same as a remembrance speech?

A eulogy and a remembrance speech are essentially the same. Both speeches honor the life of a loved one or close friend or family member after they have passed away. The only difference is the place or circumstance where/when the speech is delivered. A eulogy is always performed at a funeral service (funeral speech) or memorial service that takes place very soon after a person’s death. However, a remembrance speech can be given at any later time following a person’s death: perhaps on the person’s next birthday, another special day, at a life celebration or on the anniversary of their death.

 

Click here to download free ebook: How to Write a Eulogy

 

How long should a eulogy be?

Generally, a good eulogy should last between five and 10 minutes. A shorter eulogy might give the impression that you didn’t put much thought into your speech. If you perform a eulogy speech longer than 10 minutes, you can risk losing your audience’s attention. If in doubt, you can check with the funeral director, who may be able to provide some direction as well.

We suggest practicing the eulogy several times while timing yourself. Be sure not to speed through it, and be sure to enunciate your words. Take the time to pause when necessary. Give yourself a moment to take a breath, and give the audience a few seconds to process the important thing you just said.

 

What makes a eulogy heartfelt?

What makes a eulogy heartfelt is, well, speaking from the heart. When you write a eulogy, don’t be afraid to share your feelings and emotions. You won’t be the only one with these feelings, and your audience will certainly be able to relate to you. Share your personal thoughts and experiences in your eulogy speech, especially memories that family and friends may not know about or that can shed some light on the unique character and personality of the deceased.

 

How do you write a eulogy that is memorable?

We have so many ideas to help you make memorable eulogies. We suggest perusing through some of our other blog articles for more ideas to write a eulogy or to review a eulogy template. Here’s a short list to get you started.

  • Ask others for their best story about the deceased person and include some of them in your eulogy speech.
  • Write the eulogy from the deceased’s point of view and in their voice. For example, “John Smith didn’t have the opportunity to write a summary of his life. But if he did, I think this is what he would say…”
  • Include stories about the highlights and turning points in the deceased’s life.
  • Fill the eulogy with their personality. If your loved one was known for their humor, then be funny. If they were always pulling from a library of colorful phrases, then weave those into your eulogy.
  • Describe the difference they made in your life and in the world.
  • Make it personal to you and to your loved one.

 

What makes a eulogy compelling?

At Lastly.com, we think the two key points that make a eulogy compelling are honesty and emotion. In life, nothing is more real than our emotions. When you pay attention to your emotions, without burying them, then you are offering the most genuine version of yourself to others. And isn’t that the purpose of us being here, anyway? In one of the most important and honorable speeches you may give in your lifetime, be yourself. Don’t hold back. You may be surprised at and grateful for the reaction, love, and support that you receive. And you’ll surely give a funeral eulogy speech that leaves a lasting impact.

 

What are some successful tips to get started writing a eulogy?

Knowing how to write a successful eulogy can be a pressure-filled situation for some. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be a stressful situation. And if you find yourself experiencing writer’s block, there are many easy strategies to help you continue with your writing project.

As with any speech, it can be tough to write a eulogy and know where to start. We suggest that you begin by writing what you know about the deceased. Make sure to recall a few special memories where your loved one taught you something about themselves, about yourself or about life.

Once you have recorded what you know, take the time to call or visit with other family members, friends, and co-workers who may have known your loved one in another capacity. By talking with others who may have known another side of your loved one, you’ll be able to tell a complete story about them. And you’ll be happy knowing that you honored them properly by taking these steps.

 

What is a literary eulogy?

A literary eulogy is a longer, even book-length writing piece that recalls the life and times of a person or persons, an establishment or an era in history. The writing is usually wistful or mournful in tone.

 

How many people should give a eulogy at a funeral or memorial service?

Generally, between one and three people will give a eulogy speech at a funeral. This can happen for many reasons. Perhaps different people knew the deceased at different points in the person’s life. More than one speech giver can provide a different point of view about the life of their loved one. After all, we form many relationships in our lives: personal, friendly, and professional. In addition, having more than one eulogist takes the pressure off of a single person to write and give a eulogy speech on their own.

 

Should you have others look at your eulogy for edits?

By all means, yes! Have a trusted person look over your eulogy for any edits or to correct any possible factual errors. You’ll want to be sure that you don’t misspeak, misrepresent the person, provide inaccurate information or say something that may sound confusing to others. If possible, hire a professional proofreader to look it over in advance. If you are short for time, have another family member review the eulogy. Then hire a professional for a final edit before your eulogy is printed or published online.

See other blog articles on Lastly.com for eulogy templates and examples.

 

Can you write your own eulogy?

The practice of writing one’s own eulogy rather than leaving it for grieving family members after a death is becoming more on trend. We all want to be remembered. And what better way to be remembered than to tell the story yourself? After all, you were there for every moment of your life.

So, if you feel inclined to write your own eulogy, we say, “Go for it!” Record the important moments and the turning points in your life, the funny times, the difficult times… even embarrassing moments. (We can all look back and laugh, right?) Share it with your family members when you are done and see what they think.

Keep in mind that although you may write your own obituary, it is still an honor and part of the healing process for others to eulogize you at your funeral or memorial service. So, go ahead and write your eulogy speech but still give others the opportunity to contribute in a way that helps them honor you and heal from the loss they are experiencing.

 

What's involved in writing a good obituary?

So, we are talking about eulogies. But obituaries do go hand in hand with eulogy writing. If you are tasked with writing an obituary, you’ll need to keep your writing much shorter. Check first with the printed or online publication in advance to see how much space they allow for each obituary. Also, find out their deadline to receive your obituary so that it can be posted in enough time before any funeral or memorial services take place.

When writing an obituary, you’ll want to give mention to any surviving family members as well as those who may have predeceased your loved one. Provide a brief history of your loved one’s life, which can include where and when they were born as well as education, career, and marriage details. You may also want to mention other places where the deceased lived and visited, plus a few interesting facts about them.

If the deceased lived in several places and still has ties (friends and family members) in those cities, you may want to consider publishing the obituary in those local newspapers as well. For more information on obituaries and obituary writing, see our many articles about the topic on this website.

 

What is the difference between an elegy and a eulogy?

A eulogy is a speech given at a funeral or memorial service to remember someone who is deceased. An elegy is more of a literary remembrance, often a poem or song of any length that is nostalgic or lamenting in nature.

According to Merriam-Webster,

“Both elegy and eulogy may be used about writing or speech in remembrance of a person who has passed away, and this semantic overlap creates the potential for confusion. Elegy (which may be traced to the Greek word elegos, “song of mourning”) commonly refers to a song or poem lamenting one who is dead; the word may also refer somewhat figuratively to a nostalgic poem, or to a kind of musical composition. While eulogy is also commonly found referring to words about the deceased, its basic meaning, both in English and in the Greek language from which it was borrowed, is “praise.” Formed from the Greek roots eu “good” and logos “speech,” a eulogy is an encomium given for one who is either living or dead. If you are praising your partner’s unsurpassed beauty or commending the virtues of the deceased at a funeral, you are delivering a eulogy; if you are composing a lamenting reminiscence about a person who has long since passed, you are writing an elegy.”

 

How should you prepare for delivering a eulogy speech?

As with anything else in life… practice, practice, practice. You don’t have to be a pro at public speaking to give a wonderful eulogy speech.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing for delivering a eulogy speech.

  • Read your eulogy speech several times, even in front of a mirror.
  • Know your speech well enough that if you lose your place, you’ll know what comes next.
  • If possible, jot down the important parts on notecards so that you aren’t looking down and reading the whole time.
  • Get enough rest the night before.
  • Eat a light breakfast or meal before the services.
  • Bring a small bottle of water with you to have on hand while giving your speech.
  • Print more than one copy of the eulogy in case you lose it, drop it in the rain or spill coffee on it.
  • Practice the eulogy at least one more time on the day of the services.
  • Dress comfortably and appropriately for the day.
  • If you find it difficult to keep your composure when seeing others in tears, focus your attention on another part of the room. Or look to someone else who is supporting you as you are giving your speech.
  • Don’t rush through your speech.
  • Speak clearly.
  • Take a deep breath.

 

What should be said during the eulogy?

Be uplifting, and keep it positive. If you didn’t know the person well, stick to what you knew. If you didn’t like the person, then speak in generalities rather than specifics. Remember the famous words of Maya Angelou, “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

 

What is the best eulogy ever written?

Reviewing a sample eulogy can be a great way to get your creative juices flowing. While we don’t know if any eulogy has been classified as the best eulogy ever written—and certainly that would be subjective to every listening ear—here are some written examples of two wonderful eulogies.

 

Eulogy for Mahatma Gandhi

Delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru on February 02, 1948

Jawaharlal Nehru was a close associate of Gandhi during India's freedom struggle. At the time of this famous speech he was serving as the first Prime Minister of independent India.

 

“A glory has departed and the sun that warmed and brightened our lives has set, and we shiver in the cold and dark. Yet he would not have us feel this way. After all, that glory that we saw for all these years, that man with divine fire, changed us also--and such as we are, we have been molded by him during these years; and out of that divine fire many of us also took a small spark which strengthened and made us work to some extent on the lines that he fashioned. And so, if we praise him, our words seem rather small, and if we praise him, to some extent we also praise ourselves. Great men and eminent men have monuments in bronze and marble set up for them, but this man of divine fire managed in his lifetime to become enshrined in millions and millions of hearts so that all of us became somewhat of the stuff that he was made of, though to an infinitely lesser degree. He spread out in this way all over India, not just in palaces, or in select places or in assemblies, but in every hamlet and hut of the lowly and those who suffer. He lives in the hearts of millions and he will live for immemorial ages.

What, then, can we say about him except to feel humble on this occasion? To praise him we are not worthy--to praise him whom we could not follow adequately and sufficiently. It is almost doing him an injustice just to pass him by with words when he demanded work and labor and sacrifice from us; in a large measure he made this country, during the last thirty years or more, attain to heights of sacrifice which in that particular domain have never been equaled elsewhere. He succeeded in that. Yet ultimately things happened which no doubt made him suffer tremendously, though his tender face never lost its smile and he never spoke a harsh word to anyone. Yet, he must have suffered -- suffered for the failing of this generation whom he had trained, suffered because we went away from the path that he had shown us. And ultimately the hand of a child of his -- for he, after all, is as much a child of his as any other Indian--the hand of a child of his struck him down.

Long ages afterwards history will judge of this period that we have passed through. It will judge of the successes and the failures -- we are too near it to be proper judges and to understand what has happened and what has not happened. All we know is that there was a glory and that it is no more; all we know is that for the moment there is darkness, not so dark certainly, because when we look into our hearts we still find the living flame which he lighted there. And if those living flames exist, there will not be darkness in this land, and we shall be able, with our effort, remembering him and following his path, to illumine this land again, small as we are, but still with the fire that he instilled into us.

He was perhaps the greatest symbol of the India of the past, and may I say, of the India of the future, that we could have had. We stand on this perilous edge of the present, between that past and the future to be, and we face all manner of perils. And the greatest peril is sometimes the lack of faith which comes to us, the sense of frustration that comes to us, the sinking of the heart and of the spirit that comes to us when we see ideals go overboard, when we see the great things that we talked about somehow pass into empty words, and life taking a different course. Yet, I do believe that perhaps this period will pass soon enough.

He has gone, and all over India there is a feeling of having been left desolate and forlorn. All of us sense that feeling, and I do not know when we shall be able to get rid of it. And yet together with that feeling there is also a feeling of proud thankfulness that it has been given to us of this generation to be associated with this mighty person. In ages to come, centuries and maybe millennia after us, people will think of this generation when this man of God trod on earth, and will think of us who, however small, could also follow his path and tread the holy ground where his feet had been. 

Let us be worthy of him.”

 

Eulogy for Rosa Parks

Delivered by Oprah Winfrey on October 31, 2005 at Metropolitan AME Church, Washington D.C.

“To Reverend Braxton, family, friends, admirers, and this amazing choir:

I feel it an honor to be here to come and say a final goodbye.

I grew up in the South, and Rosa Parks was a hero to me long before I recognized and understood the power and impact that her life embodied. I remember my father telling me about this colored woman who had refused to give up her seat. And in my child's mind, I thought, "She must be really big." I thought she must be at least a hundred feet tall. I imagined her being stalwart and strong and carrying a shield to hold back the white folks.

And then I grew up and had the esteemed honor of meeting her. And wasn't that a surprise. Here was this petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness. And I thanked her then. I said, "Thank you," for myself and for every colored girl, every colored boy, who didn't have heroes who were celebrated.

I thanked her then.

And after our first meeting I realized that God uses good people to do great things. And I'm here today to say a final thank you, Sister Rosa, for being a great woman who used your life to serve, to serve us all. That day that you refused to give up your seat on the bus, you, Sister Rosa, changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of so many other people in the world. I would not be standing here today nor standing where I stand every day had she not chosen to sit down. I know that. I know that. I know that. I know that, and I honor that. Had she not chosen to say we shall not -- we shall not be moved.

So I thank you again, Sister Rosa, for not only confronting the one white man who[se] seat you took, not only confronting the bus driver, not only for confronting the law, but for confronting history, a history that for 400 years said that you were not even worthy of a glance, certainly no consideration. I thank you for not moving.

And in that moment when you resolved to stay in that seat, you reclaimed your humanity and you gave us all back a piece of our own. I thank you for that. I thank you for acting without concern. I often thought about what that took, knowing the climate of the times and what could have happened to you, what it took to stay seated. You acted without concern for yourself and made life better for us all. We shall not be moved.

I marvel at your will.

I celebrate your strength to this day.

And I am forever grateful, Sister Rosa, for your courage, your conviction.

I owe you -- to succeed.

I will not be moved.”

 

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