An important part of most funeral and memorial services is the delivery of the eulogy. The eulogy is a speech that is most commonly delivered by a close family member or friend of the deceased or by the person who is officiating at the service. A eulogy is, in essence, a means of saying goodbye to a person who has passed away, through the expression and sharing of thoughts, sentiments and experiences that honour and revere the deceased. It is therefore the part of the funeral that is most likely to strike a cord with those in attendance and to live longest in their memories.
It is important, therefore, that the eulogy accurately and sensitively represents the memories of the deceased’s friends and family. There is no standardised type of eulogy but there are certain important considerations to take into account when writing one. We set out below some helpful advice on how to write a eulogy.
How to write a eulogy
Planning: The most important aspect of writing a funeral speech is the planning process. Eulogies are a way of saying farewell to the deceased and, in many respects, the person who delivers the eulogy does so on behalf of all of the bereaved relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. It is important to give proper consideration to the tone and content and the length of the speech.
You may wish to adopt a more formal delivery or, alternatively, make the eulogy more personal. Much will depend on the nature of your relationship with the deceased. The important thing to remember is that, as with the overall funeral planning, there is no right or wrong way to plan a eulogy.
Research: If you want the eulogy to include a timeline of the deceased’s life it is important to research all of the relevant facts and to ensure that they are correct. Little can be as upsetting to a loved one than listening to a eulogy that includes incorrect information about the deceased. Speak to as many people as possible to try to find out as much about their personal memories and, if these are felt to be particularly meaningful, incorporate them in the eulogy.
Keep Notes: Make notes as you collate the information for inclusion in the eulogy to ensure that important matters are not forgotten. When you feel that you have all the information that you need, prepare a draft of the speech
Seek Feedback: Once you have a basic idea of how you want the eulogy to be and have prepared it in draft it is prudent to share your plans with one or more close family members to elicit their views about your planned content and, if necessary, to check factual information for accuracy.
Finalise the Speech: There are two choices when it comes to finalising the eulogy. Some prefer to commit the entirety of the speech to writing whilst others use it as an aide memoir, with brief pointers to the content of the entire speech. The most important consideration is what you are likely to feel more comfortable with.
Rehearse: Once the speech has been committed to the written form that you have chosen, you need to practise your delivery until you are happy that you will do justice to the eulogy that you have put so much work into.
The application of the above will go a long way towards making your eulogy a successful one. Ultimately, as long as it is written and delivered from the heart, it should serve as a fitting farewell to its subject and a sensitive commemoration and celebration of his or her life.