A helpful guide

How to Write a Eulogy

When a loved one passes away, a speech or eulogy is given at the memorial service. This is a chance to celebrate the deceased’s life and memory. The best eulogies are not written by writers or given by the best performers. Instead, the best eulogies are honest, short and provide a brief, yet accurate, glimpse into a loved one’s character. This is a chance to share stories with loved ones and even make people laugh. A well-written eulogy provides comfort to the writer and the audience. The following are some tips to make it easier to write a eulogy for a family member, friend, coworker or loved one. 

Brainstorm with Friends and Family Members
Before writing the eulogy, it is wise to ask loved ones about their own memories. This could jog a person’s memory and help a person brainstorm humorous or heartwarming moments to include in the speech. Such conversations also prove comforting during an emotional time.

Decide on the Tone of the Speech
Before writing the speech, people should think about the audience and the tone of the eulogy. Some speeches are somber and serious whereas others are lighthearted and humorous. The personality of the writer and attendees dictate the appropriateness of the piece. The personality and life of the deceased also guides the tone of the speech. The language of the eulogy should be conversational and easy to understand. After all, a wide range of people will attend this service.

Brief and Concise Eulogies Are the Most Effective
Short and sweet is the way to go. Anything too long could be difficult to deliver. Most people’s attention spans are relatively short, especially when they are grieving. A concise eulogy is memorable and clear. Having a clear opening, middle, and end helps a speaker avoid rambling. Generally, anything over a page and a half might be too long.

Thank People for Attending the Service
A great way to ease into a eulogy is to thank everyone for coming to the service. This can ease a person’s nerves and thanks the guests who took the time out of their day to attend the memorial. The speaker should explain who they are to the guests and express condolences to people in the room.

Share the Legacy and Life of the Deceased
The opening is the chance to establish your relationship with the deceased. This can be as personal as the speaker wants it to be. It is wise to talk about what made the person special – his or her special characteristics. Small anecdotes or stories about the deceased can sum up his or her impact on people. This is also a chance to share personal hobbies, interests and goals of the individual. After all, a eulogy celebrates the life of a person and does not dwell in the death. A speaker should discuss the memories and experiences they shared with the deceased.

Include an Uplifting Poem or Closing
Many people include a favorite quotation or memorial poem in their eulogies. This grounds a eulogy in something inspiring and comforting. If the deceased was religious, it may be wise to include a passage from the Bible. When including a poem or quotation, it is best to introduce and close the section. This explains why the speaker chose to include it in the eulogy.

Summarize the Speech in the Conclusion
The eulogy’s closing is a chance to summarize the speech and explain the things you will remember most about the deceased. This is also a chance for the speaker to explain any after-service details. One of the easiest and most effective ways to end the eulogy is to say goodbye to the deceased one last time. Many funeral homes will play music after the eulogy is given. This is a great way to signal the closing of a service and conclude the speech.

Bring Water and Tissues
Speakers often find that they are nervous or emotional when they go up to speak about the deceased. It is wise to bring water and tissues up to the podium. This helps a person deal with all of the attention. Taking a sip of water between section also helps a speaker calm his or her nerves and develop a slow yet steady speaking style. Everyone knows that this is a tough time – no one will judge if the speaker cries or needs a moment to collect him or herself.

Practice Makes Perfect
It is important to practice reading the eulogy out loud. This can happen in front of the mirror or in front of friends and family members. Taking the time to write and revise the speech makes it easier to remember the words and ensure all of the memories are specifically explained. Loved ones will provide solid feedback about the power of a speech and will offer honest suggestions. It is smart to print the eulogy out double-spaced and in a larger than normal font so that the words are easier to read.

Relax and Make Eye Contact
Before giving the speech, take some time to collect yourself and relax. This might mean going outside, listening to a song or talking to a close friend. A eulogy doesn’t have to be stiff and formal. Instead, remember you are speaking to friends and loved ones. Making eye contact with close friends and family makes it easier to give this speech and also connect with the audience.

Memorial services are about remembering the life of the deceased. This is a celebration of a life. There is no wrong way to write a eulogy. People who speak from the heart and share their favorite memories are sure to deliver an emotionally moving and effective speech. This is the chance to gather together with loved ones to say one last goodbye.