How to give a Eulogy
When a person dies, the funeral usually includes a eulogy that talks about the life of the deceased and honors them. Often times a family member is chosen to give a eulogy for a mother, father, a grandmother or grandfather. Sometimes you may be asked to give a eulogy for a friend. It can be very difficult, but this eulogy format will help you learn how to write a euology. You can also check out our other articles for sample eulogies and eulogy examples that you can use and adapt to use at a funeral or memorial service
If you’ve been asked to give a eulogy you might be concerned about where to start. What is a eulogy and what should you say in a eulogy? A eulogy is a talk given at a funeral or memorial service to honor the person who has died, to memorialize who they were and to provide comfort to those who are grieving. A eulogy can be sad but it can also be inspiring, reminding people that life goes on. It can be religious or secular. It can also contain respectful elements of humor, such as a funny anecdote about the deceased.
How do you write a eulogy?
- PREPARE: Sit down and remember some stories about the person who has died. Write down a word or two to remind you of the story. Stories and anecdotes are excellent ways to memorialize a person at a funeral. But be sure the story is appropriate to the occasion. The story should make the deceased person look good or at least not make them look bad. It should also be a story he or she would like to have shared. Make sure it’s a story that is ok to tell in front of the person’s family and friends and will not cause more suffering or embarrass anyone.
- BRAINSTORM: What was important to the person who has died? What did they love the most? Brainstorm some ideas about what or who was most important to them. Were they very religious or spiritual? Did they have a hobby they loved or a place they loved to visit? What made them happy and fulfilled? What were their positive qualities? Write a list of words that describes that’s person’s personality, values and life philosophy. What did you admire about this person?
- FOCUS ON PEOPLE: Focus on WHO mattered to this person. Did they talk tenderly about their spouse or feel a lot of pride for their children? Did they cherish their grandchildren and share photos of them frequently? Did they have a few special friends who meant a great deal to them? Telling these stories will honor the person who has died but most importantly, give great comfort to those who they left behind. Sharing a thoughtful story can greatly help a grieving family member.
- GET HELP: Ask other people for help. If you are delivering the main eulogy for the service, ask others for their ideas about what made this person special. Ask them to share stories with you. It might seem awkward or difficult, but most people who are grieving want to talk about their feelings and share their memories of their loved one. If they don’t wish to talk about it, they can say no.
- FORMAT: Next, select a format for the eulogy. There are many ways you can do this. One popular method is to read a short list of qualities that you loved about this person. Then for the main section of the eulogy, discuss in depth why this person exemplified these qualities, using examples or anecdotes and stories from their life.
- FORMAT 2: A second method of format is to write a letter to the deceased. You can tell them why they were so special to you. Include precious memories of that person. Tell them why you will miss them and how they helped make your life better by being a part of it. If you are too emotional to read this, it can also be read by someone else on your behalf.
- STYLE: The style of a eulogy is flexible. It doesn’t have to be formal and stiff or overly somber. The best eulogies are rich in stories and memories and help the mourners remember the best qualities of the deceased person. If the person who died would have preferred their funeral to be a “celebration of their life”, not a sad occasion, you can point that out and make your remarks more light-hearted.
- THINGS TO AVOID: A word of caution here. Eulogies should focus on the person who has died and the people who loved them. Eulogies can be many things, but one thing they should NOT be is a speech or a lecture. Do not focus on your own ideas or moral philosophies or try to make a religious point or lecture as this may be upsetting to some in the audience and it’s not the goal of the eulogy. Do not be judgmental. Avoid saying platitudes such as “”Everything happens for a reason” or “It’s all in God’s plan” since these are not helpful and can be hurtful. The eulogy is an opportunity to honor the one who has died and comfort their loved one. Focus on that.
- TIMING: You can ask the minister or person who is officiating the ceremony about how long you should talk. Most memorial ceremonies contain a religious or philosophical eulogy given by a minister or officiant, plus a main eulogy given by a family member or close friend. They may also include religious ceremonies, music and a period of time where others can come up and share brief memories of the deceased. Unless told otherwise, plan to speak for roughly about 10 to 20 minutes, but timing is somewhat flexible. You can read the eulogy out loud and time yourself to see how long it is. If there are multiple people also sharing a eulogy, than you may need to cut your remarks short. Aim for closer to 8 to 15 minutes in that case. It may be helpful to coordinate with the other speakers so you canal aim for about the same time speaking and make the service feel balanced.
- WRITING: If you are delivering the main eulogy, you should sit down and write it out word by word. If you do this, you can read it at the funeral service and not worry about getting overly emotional and forgetting what you wanted to say or getting distracted. Some people like to “wing it”, but that isn’t advisable at an occasion as important as a funeral. (If you are planning to share just a short story during the memory sharing time, then you can probably get away with speaking off the cuff.) After writing the eulogy, take a break and then go back later and read it out loud to yourself to hear how it sounds. Make any adjustments to make it flow more smoothly. You can practice in front of a mirror or in front of someone else if it will help you.
- DELIVERY: When you deliver the eulogy at the funeral, you may find yourself overcome with emotion. That’s perfectly fine. You can pause and take a moment to take a breath or sip some water. The people in the audience are also grieving and they understand if you cry or your voice trembles. If you need to take a moment and step back, that is also ok. Preparation will help to avoid this. By reading your words out loud beforehand, you dilute some of the grief that may well up during delivery. You can also ask someone else to read your remarks for you.
More information:We hope this article on how to write a eulogy will help you format and create a eulogy for a funeral or memorial service. If this was helpful, check out our condolence letters samples, our short examples of anecdotes and our sample eulogies for more ideas. The examples and outline presented here can be modified to be used to write a eulogy for a mother, father, grandmother or grandfather, a child, other family member or a friend. Check out more speeches on our main page for more articles here Can U Write.