A eulogy is one of the most personal and moving parts of a funeral ceremony, a speech or piece of writing delivered in praise of the recently departed person. Delivering a eulogy is a great honour and needn’t instil fear in the person who’s been asked to perform this duty.
If you find yourself in this position, tasked with writing a eulogy for Dad, a eulogy for Mother, or for anyone else, here’s a simple guide to show you how to write a eulogy that will do them full justice.
Feel the fear – then relax
Faced with such an honour and a responsibility, it’s normal to feel a little nervous about writing an eulogy and delivering it. You want to do your best and deliver a eulogy that does full justice to your loved one. Relax! The attendees at the funeral will be on your side.
Use this guide to learn how to write a eulogy, plan the eulogy and start drafting it; by getting started, you’ll soon relax and compose something wonderful. Remember too that this isn’t a competition for the best-written and delivered presentation – it’s a warm and spontaneous tribute to someone special. Write it from the heart and deliver it with passion. You’ll do just fine!
Planning how to write a eulogy and deliver it
First of all, think about who’ll deliver the eulogy (if it isn’t you), and who the audience will be. As a guiding principle, remember that the eulogy should be funny, poignant and loving. If you can successfully combine these emotions, you’re onto a winner. Having got a picture in your mind of the audience, you’ll need to seek inspiration for the eulogy. A great way to do this is with a combination of the following:
- Music enjoyed by the deceased
- Photographs of the deceased
- Special places enjoyed by the deceased
- Reflection on the life of the person (a key part of how to write a eulogy)
A suggested eulogy structure
As a rough guide, the following is a proven framework for a successful funeral eulogy:
- Introduce the person
- State when they were born and when they died
- Explain why they were so special
- Share a couple of personal stories about them
- Show how they changed your world
- Tell the audience why you’ll always remember the deceased
- Sum up with a memorable final thought
- Offer a final goodbye
Don’t be afraid to improvise or adapt this format. Seek ideas by reading or listening to famous eulogy speeches (Princess Diana and President John F. Kennedy are often quoted when an example eulogy is needed).
Writing the eulogy
Now you’ve gathered lots of inspiration and read a sample eulogy or two, you can start to write your eulogy. Don’t worry about editing the eulogy speech at this stage; just write your thoughts by hand or using a word processor (many people prefer the former at this stage).
Capture your ideas without censoring anything. Whenever experts advise on how to write a eulogy they always recommend leaving it for a day or two before revising and polishing it to its finished form. Then read it aloud and read it to someone else whose opinion you trust.
Suddenly, not only do you know how to write a eulogy but you’ve actually done it! By now, the fear should have gone and you’ve got a beautiful piece of writing ready for the funeral ceremony. On the day, relax, deliver it with passion and confidence and enjoy the honour of being chosen to do so.