Featured FAQ: How Do I Write a Fitting Eulogy?June 1, 2016
The days following a loved one’s passing is a naturally emotional time for those left behind, and writing a eulogy may seem daunting. But it is a great honor and a final act of love you can bestow on both your loved one and all in attendance at the funeral. You don’t have to be a great writer to capture the essence of the deceased nor an inspirational speaker to deliver the eulogy at the memorial service – keep it brief and heartfelt; use specific examples and stories; and don’t forget to sprinkle in a bit of humor, too.
Before you start to write, take some time to connect with your feelings and reflect on the memories of your loved one. Jot down special memories; ask friends and relatives for their memories or to fact-check areas of your loved one’s life; and flip through photo albums. Look for repetitions or major themes that can be overarching connections throughout your loved one’s life.
- Establish the theme of your eulogy: Some eulogies can be short biographies that consider the person’s whole life while other eulogies can be personal reflections of a special relationship or a slice of life. There may be opportunities for both types of eulogies to be represented, such as a short biography from the officiant with personal views from family members.
- Beginning, middle and end: Every effective eulogy has an opening to either welcome those who have come to the funeral, establish the theme of your eulogy, and/or sum up the person’s life. The middle section should give personal memories and stories that illustrate the major aspects of the person’s life or exemplifies his or her most important character traits. The closing can reiterate the theme, convey the strong emotions around the loss, or sum up the person’s lasting legacy. A little humor throughout will help ease tensions and make the delivery a bit easier, too. You can also use quotes, poems or scriptural verses to help describe your loved one’s tastes, personality or legacy during any of the parts of the eulogy.
- Revise and rehearse: Once you have the first draft, leave it alone for a few hours or even a few days so you can come back to it with a fresh perspective. Then read it aloud to hear where you stumble or where it sounds uneven or forced. Make revisions and additions as necessary or as certain memories come to the forefront. Continue to read the various drafts aloud so you become comfortable with giving the eulogy and keep it under ten minutes. It can be helpful to read your eulogy word for word on the day of the funeral which is likely to be emotional.
Key Tips to a Great Eulogy
Follow these helpful tips to write and present the most effective eulogy as possible.
- Keep it short – about 5 to 10 minutes long (3-8 typed pages).
- Write everything down so you don’t ramble or forget key points.
- Use 14-point type and double spacing to make it easy to read.
- Practice the eulogy aloud and time yourself.
- Get feedback from friends and family.
- Keep the content positive – don’t add to the sorrow.
- A little light humor provides relief and keeps it upbeat.
- Stay away from potentially embarrassing or off-color stories.
- Mention other friends and relatives – don’t just talk about your memories of the deceased.
- Print out two copies of the eulogy and give a copy of the eulogy to someone else you trust. It’s understandable if you become emotional, but have a back-up in case you become too overwhelmed in the moment.
- Bring a small bottle of water so you can keep your mouth moist before and during your speech.
- Use a conversational tone and speak slowly and clearly.
Sample Eulogies from WikiHow:
Remember that the people who will listen to your eulogy at the memorial service will be enormously supportive and appreciative. By presenting your eulogy, you will be honoring the memory of your loved one, doing a great service to those who hear you, and beginning the healing process for yourself by presenting precious memories and conveying love and laughter during a time of loss and sadness.
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