How to write a Eulogy

Knowing how to write a eulogy may seem daunting however there are a number of steps you can follow that will help. A well written eulogy can after all bring the person we are mourning to life in our minds, so it’s worth thinking carefully about what it should include.

What is a Eulogy?

A Eulogy is a funeral speech written in honour of the person who has died to help celebrate their life. Delivered by a family member, friend, minister or celebrant, the eulogy is a fitting tribute to their life that friends and family can reflect on and identify with.

What should you include in a eulogy?

A eulogy is usually a condensed life history about the person including special memories, stories, funny anecdotes or interesting facts about their life that people may not know. It should be a positive recognition of their qualities but also honest and where appropriate it can also be funny.

It is important to think about the audience so negative comments should be avoided but that is not to say you can’t be truthful. A eulogy should reflect how the family and also the person themselves would wish to be remembered.

How do you write a eulogy?

Before you start writing a eulogy it is worth speaking to family and friends first to get their suggestions and perspective, making notes on stories that really paint a picture of the person and why they will be missed.

Make notes on the things you would like to include in the eulogy such as:

  • Favourite memories of them
  • Achievements and highlights of their life
  • The impact they had on yours and other people’s lives
  • Funny stories appropriate to share with grieving family and friends
  • Words you would choose to describe them

It then often helps to write the eulogy in chronological order, using the information you have gathered together to talk through the highlights of their life. Alternatively you may just want to focus on a two or three stories that portray what they were like as a person and what exactly it was that made them so special.

Be positive and honest but selective; the odd imperfection they were renowned for such as ‘always being late’ or ‘a bit grumpy at times’ can be heartwarming but only if used in the right way.    

How long should a eulogy last?

There is no rule as to how long a eulogy should last but you do have to keep in mind the time allotted for the funeral service and also your audience. Three  to five minutes is probably a good place to start but certainly no more than 10 minutes.

Be sure to practise your eulogy once you have written it and time it so you can gauge whether the length is appropriate. It is also worth rehearsing it in front of someone else so you can get their feedback too.

How do you read a eulogy?

Reading a eulogy is an important part of the funeral service but because of heightened emotions, it really doesn’t have to be word perfect. It’s important to practise out loud beforehand though so you can familiarise yourself with the words, understand how they flow and work out where to pause.

Practising will also help you deliver a more natural eulogy, using your notes as a prompt to keep you on track rather than reading everything word for word, which can sound a little scripted or monotone.

At the end of the day, regardless of whether you are used to public speaking or not, reading a eulogy out loud can be daunting so the following tips will help:

  • Be yourself
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Try to keep calm and not fidget
  • Pause where appropriate and as needed
  • Stand up as this will help you project your voice
  • Don’t worry if you get upset, it’s ok and expected. Just pause and take a deep breath

It is also worth having someone on standby to help or take over should you become too upset, but if this happens please don’t worry; this is a funeral so people will understand and be supportive.

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