How to Write a Eulogy

How to Write a Eulogy
4 minute read

Daniela Fortino

A eulogy is a speech spoken at a funeral or memorial service that pays tribute to individuals and their lives. Its purpose is to honour someone who has died and reflect on their life in front of friends and family who have come to pay tribute. So, here is how to write a eulogy for a loved one that memorializes them perfectly and honours their life.

A good eulogy should sum up the life of the individual and their character and the impact they had on those around them. It serves as another way to remind attendees of the significance the person had in their lives, in their community, and in the world.

The responsibility of giving a eulogy often falls on those closest to the person who has died. This usually includes parents, spouses, children, grandchildren, and so on. However, sometimes this can be too overwhelming for those closely related to the deceased. If so, another person might write the eulogy or deliver it.

Writing and delivering a eulogy can sometimes be difficult for the designated person. Below is some advice and some essential things to keep in mind when writing a eulogy.

Sum up their life

The eulogy is a way to sum up the life of the person who has passed. To do this well, the writer must have a good sense of the individual and their life.

Since the responsibility of the eulogy typically falls on those close to the deceased, the writer may have all the information they need to adequately paint a picture of the deceased’s life and impact. However, it can be helpful to get input from people who were closest to the person as well.

If it is too difficult for immediate family or their closest friends to deliver the eulogy, it is appropriate to designate someone who was less close to the person. In this case, it may be beneficial for the eulogist to interview people closest to the deceased to get multiple perspectives on their life and check facts and details if needed.

It is also important to understand your audience. Is the funeral going to be attended by family? Friends? Acquaintances? Colleagues? Adjust the content for the people you will be speaking to.

Additionally, it is important to understand how the audience feels about the deceased and their death and adjust your tone accordingly. If it was a sudden or tragic death, it might be advisable to avoid discussing the details leading up to the end of their life. If the individual was a serious person, it might be best to minimize jokes. Alternatively, if the individual was fun-loving, the eulogy can be more upbeat and playful. The audience can vary greatly, so take time to understand them and what they expect before writing the eulogy. You want to ensure you memorialize the deceased in a way that loved ones will appreciate.

Writing the Eulogy

When you sit down to write the eulogy, here are several tips that will help in the process.

Brainstorming the eulogy

There are no set ways or specific formulas to use when structuring the eulogy. To start, spend some time brainstorming. Think about the deceased and write any idea that comes to your mind. Think about conversations, stories, milestones, memories – anything that will help the audience create a mental picture of who the deceased was. This is also a good time to talk to friends and family about their memories of the deceased.

Some general things to discuss in a eulogy may include the following:

  • Family
  • Career
  • Achievements
  • Hobbies
  • Interests
  • Friends

Condensing and organizing the eulogy

After brainstorming, condense the information you have. A eulogy can be delivered in three to five minutes. This gives you enough time to give a meaningful speech without overwhelming the audience with too much information. Most people speak at a rate of 100 to 125 words per minute.  So a three-minute eulogy would be about 300 to 400 words on a page.

To condense it, you should start by looking at the examples you have come up with or provided by others and pick out the ones that truly represent the deceased’s personality. For example, if they are known for being a jokester, give an example of a funny prank they pulled on you or someone else. If they were selfless, explain how they gave back to their community or helped others. Tell a story or provide an example that demonstrates that part of their life and personality.

Once you have condensed your talking points, it is time to tie everything together. You must decide how you would like to structure the information you have. You can do this chronologically, reverse chronologically, by theme, by topic, etc.

How you organize it is up to you; however, the speech should have a beginning, middle, and end. In the beginning, you should introduce yourself briefly by saying who you are and what your relationship was to the deceased and then go straight into talking about the person’s life. The middle of the eulogy will consist of any information you feel is essential. This should be the longest section. The end should be short and sweet and give one last farewell to the deceased. For example, you could end it by saying something you said to them before they died. Or you could also say something you would have liked to have said to them.

Once you have created the speech, it is time to make any edits or changes. It is a good idea to have family and friends read it to ensure the information is correct and that it portrays apporporiately the type of person the deceased was.

Delivering the eulogy

Once you have a final draft of the eulogy, it is a good idea to rehearse speaking it beforehand. Read it aloud to ensure that it sounds authentic and heartfelt. When delivering the speech, make sure also to speak slowly and clearly and use a conversational tone.

Giving a eulogy can be difficult for some people to do. It can be an emotional time. Some eulogists may become overcome with emotion as they deliver the speech. Cry if you need to cry, pause, take a deep breath, take a short break – anything you need to do to get through it. You can also have a standby that will read it for you if it becomes too difficult. The purpose of the eulogy is not to judge the public speaking abilities of the one delivering it. It is to honour the deceased. Friends and family will understand and forgive any mistakes made in the delivery. They will also be grateful for the memorialization.