How to Write a Eulogy
A eulogy is a speech given at a funeral or memorial service in tribute to the one who has passed away. A heartfelt eulogy can be an important part of the grieving process. Here are some tips for writing a eulogy that will help ease the pain of those who are in mourning.
Before You Begin
It’s important to spend some time in thought before you begin writing a eulogy. By recalling memories that you shared with the deceased, you may be able to include stories that will fit appropriately into your eulogy. You may also decide that you want to emphasize certain qualities that the deceased had as a tribute to the way the person lived.
Do Your Homework
Even if you were very close with the person you’re eulogizing, it may be helpful to pin down certain dates and other information for use in your eulogy. Knowing how many years the deceased spent working for a certain company or the names and ages of family members could be helpful as you write your eulogy.
Decide on the Eulogy’s Tone and Style
For some services, a more spiritual eulogy may be appropriate, while a eulogy that emphasizes one’s family life may be better in other situations. Let the memory of your loved one and your knowledge of those who will be mourning guide your writing as you decide upon the tone and style of the eulogy.
Make an Outline
Once you’ve got some ideas, it’s time to start forming an outline. Try to emphasize the positive qualities of the deceased in your introduction while offering an uplifting tone and message in your conclusion. In the body of your eulogy, include anecdotes or share details about how the deceased lived their life.
Consider Adding Moments of Levity
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the passing of the deceased, it may be appropriate to add some lighter moments into the eulogy. Sharing stories that will make loved ones smile while recalling their loved one can help ease their pain during a difficult time.
Practice Delivering Your Eulogy
It may feel awkward to practice a eulogy, but doing so is important as it ensures that your eulogy will be a fitting tribute to your loved one. Practicing your eulogy will allow you to make better eye contact with those in attendance instead of simply reading from your notes. You will also want to use your practice time to work on speaking slowly, since people tend to speak too quickly when delivering speeches in front of an audience.
Get Feedback on What You’ve Written
Find a trusted friend or family member who also knew the deceased well and have them look over your eulogy. They may have ideas that you can add into your eulogy to make it even better. Writing an emotional speech such as a eulogy can be a taxing experience, and another person may catch a mistake that you didn’t notice when you were writing.
Avoid Common Mistakes
It may be tempting to deliver a eulogy without any written notes and simply speak from the heart. This usually isn’t the best idea, as you may be nervous or even overwhelmed with emotion and unable to deliver your thoughts in a way that will properly honor your loved one. Also, don’t feel the need to memorize your eulogy word-for-word. Instead, use practice and guidance from your notes to ensure you don’t lose your place. A memorized eulogy can tend to feel robotic, and delivering a eulogy without notes can be difficult if you get nervous and forget your place in the speech.
Eulogy Example 1:
"My father lived a life based upon doing whatever he could to make a positive impact on others, no matter what the cost was to himself. While raising three children and spending decades as a teacher in the City High school district, he was always able to put aside his own needs in order to serve others.
"Father liked to say that during moments of adversity, we should move forward fearlessly. I first remember him telling me that when I was learning to ride my bike without training wheels. I begged him not to let go of my bike, worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep my balance. After his words inspired me, I found out that I was wrong. Years later, as I was the last of the kids to leave home for college, he reminded me again of those wise words.
"In a difficult time like this, we must take an example from my father’s bravery as we try to move forward without someone we loved so much. At the same time, we should find comfort in the many years of memories we were given through the time we all spent with him, including a lifetime’s worth of laughs, smiles, and stories.
"Although we all gather today to mourn my father, he can never truly leave us. We can still see him in the eyes of his grandchildren, in the lives that he impacted while teaching for 37 years, and in our hearts and memories. May we all move forward fearlessly even as we mourn the loss of a great man."
Eulogy Example 2:
"It hasn’t been easy for those who loved Michelle to deal with her passing. Michelle faced a long battle that not only tested her physically, but which made life extremely difficult for her loved ones. Comfort can be hard to find when you see someone who you care for so much going through such a hard experience.
"I believe that it’s best to remember Michelle as she truly was: a smiling, caring soul who always made time to help others. A great friend who would binge on ice cream with you after a tough breakup or be there with you to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. It’s easy to dwell on the fact that Michelle has left us too soon, but I’d prefer to remember all of the wonderful times that we all got to share with her while she was here.
"Michelle will be remembered not only as a terrific artist and a vibrant individual, but also as a dependable daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. It’s impossible to not feel sorrow when losing such an amazing human being, but I think we all can also say that Michelle would want us to pick ourselves up, find the things that inspire us, and make a real difference in the world. That’s what she did, and the best way we can honor her is to do the same."