It’s certainly an honor to be asked to write a eulogy. However, it also can be emotionally difficult to deliver a eulogy when you are mourning. Keep in mind that by performing this wonderful task, you are representing not only the deceased but their family as well. And you will want to put forth your best effort possible.
Most of us don’t think about how to write a eulogy until we suddenly find ourselves in the position of having to do just that. And unfortunately, most eulogies are written during a period of grief without the convenience of time. Writing a eulogy during a time of mourning can be very difficult and unexpected.
Perhaps you find yourself in this very situation: having to suddenly write a eulogy in a difficult time in your life. Or perhaps you know the time is coming and want to be prepared. Drafting a eulogy during a time of personal grief can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never written a eulogy before. So, wouldn’t it be better to write a eulogy in advance?
Prepare a Eulogy in Advance
If you know someone is getting older or is facing a terminal illness or declining health, then it’s best to prepare yourself ahead of time. Assemble immediate family members and decide who will prepare and give the eulogy when the time comes. While you're at it, decide who will write the obituary.
It’s often best to consult with the person in advance about what they may want to include. Perhaps they prefer a serious or humorous approach. Perhaps they can suggest a few meaningful things to include. If you can speak to the person in advance, then you can glean wonderful insights into their personality and the things that hold meaning for them.
Whatever your situation, this article will help you determine how to write a eulogy, what to include, and how to deliver the speech for a lasting effect. Let’s start with the basics.
5 Steps to Write a Eulogy
- Gather information
- Organize and outline
- Write and revise
- Rehearse, time, and refine
- Deliver with heartfelt confidence
What a Eulogy Is and Isn’t…
First, a eulogy is not a full account of a person’s life from birth to death. You don’t need to mention every humdrum detail, every job they’ve held or every accomplishment.
Eulogy is derived from the Greek word eulogia meaning “good words.” A eulogy is a personal speech of praise about a person who has recently passed away.
The eulogy is meant to be written from the point of view of a close family member or friend and read at a funeral or memorial service. A typical eulogy will last about ten minutes and is meant to memorialize a person’s character and the life that they lived. A eulogy is a summary story of someone’s life. And like any story, it should have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
How to Start a Eulogy
Sometimes the beginning can be the hardest part. These first steps will help set the tone of the rest of your eulogy. Don’t worry if you don’t write this part first. You can always jot a few notes, then come back to it later. The most important thing is to keep any mention of yourself brief. The eulogy should be about the person who has passed away, and not about you or any other friends or family members.
Mention the deceased person’s name in the first sentence. Of course, everyone knows why they are there. But sometimes in our own grief, we forget this small but important step.
Introduce yourself and explain your relationship to the deceased person. Not everyone present may know who you are, so this will help others know why you are delivering the eulogy.
Thank those in attendance by letting them know how meaningful their attendance is.
Recognize the family members and close friends of the deceased.
Describe what the person meant to you and the impact they had on your life. This will help others make a connection to you, as well as reinforce the connection they had with the deceased.
Read a quote, poem, song lyric or scripture passage that was meaningful to the person. It’s best to avoid inside jokes or stories that others won’t understand.
The Essence of a Eulogy
The best eulogies leave everyone with lasting, positive thoughts about the deceased family member or friend. You may want to talk about the most important accomplishments that the person will want remembered. You may want to mention the things in life that gave the person the most joy: hobbies, military service, volunteer work, life events, pets, and personal and professional achievements. Talk about the things that made the person uniquely himself or herself.
These details act as a great way to connect mourners in their grief. The details and stories that you provide should be known by most of those in attendance. Remember, you shouldn’t write a eulogy as if you are simply reading an obituary. While obituaries are typically factual, a eulogy should be written from a more personal point of view and leave the impression of how the deceased person lived their life and the legacy that they have left behind.
How to End a Eulogy
When you are called on to write and deliver a eulogy, the ending can be a challenge. It may be difficult to decide when and how to end the eulogy. You’ll want to be sincere and reverent to their memory.
Keep it simple. Perhaps a simple closing is best, especially if you’ve run a little long.
Mirror the beginning of your speech.
Summarize your presentation into a few key points that you want the audience to remember about the deceased.
Refer to another quote, poem, song lyric or scripture passage that was meaningful to the person.
Remind attendees that the family will need their support. This is your call to action.
Restate your condolences.
Say goodbye to the deceased.
Above all, stay true to the person. Focus on what made them feel alive and joyful. And remain respectful and reverent throughout your speech.
Documenting the life of a loved one and understanding the significant events of their life can help you when delivering a eulogy. Lastly.com enables you to easily capture and preserve the stories and special moments from the life of a love one so that they will be remembered and forever cherished by future generations.