Plan a Funeral
Writing A Eulogy
What is a Eulogy?
A Eulogy is a speech or piece of writing that praises someone; it is usually a tribute to someone who has just died. It may be written as a life story, outlining highlights of the person’s life, education, traits, personality, school, sports, hobbies and interests, for example.
A Eulogy is not the same as an Obituary (a tribute or notice usually placed in a newspaper) or an Elegy (a poem or song to lament the deceased).
1. Who is going to deliver the eulogy?
A Eulogy may be delivered by family members or friends (or the Funeral Celebrant if preferred) at a funeral or memorial service. Ask the nominated person if they are willing to read the Eulogy and ensure they have a copy as soon as possible to allow them to practise their delivery.
2. How long should a Eulogy be?
This should be discussed with the person arranging the service. Some Chapels operate to very strict time allocations. Sometimes there will be another family booked to use the Chapel immediately after your service.
Booking a double timeslot is an option for timed services. Ensure you discuss this promptly with the Funeral Service Arranger. Once you know the overall service time, your Funeral Celebrant will guide you as to the length of the Eulogy, usually gauged in time (minutes), rather than word count.
3. Will there be other Tributes?
Are other people going to speak at the Funeral Service? For example, a work colleague or a friend connected through hobbies or sport. It is important to identify all speakers at the early planning stages of the Funeral Service. When there are two or more speakers, it is important to ensure that each presenter is clear about their content and time restraints, to avoid content duplication or the Funeral Service running over time.
Eulogies and Tributes are delivered orally. They should be written for vocal delivery rather than reading. When you have written your draft, read it aloud, or read it to a friend, for feedback on delivery and content.
Timing is everything - make sure you meet the deadline. It is important to email a copy of your eulogy or tribute to the Funeral Celebrant well before the service. (The Funeral Celebrant will give you a deadline.) This allows the Funeral Celebrant to:
- Ensure the best ‘flow’ for the service
- Determine the best order for the speakers
- Discuss and avoid any content duplication
- Fact check content such as dates, and
- Give a full copy of the final service to the family which includes all the tributes and the eulogy.
As with all writing, a Eulogy needs a beginning, core and conclusion.
- Make the beginning engaging, start personally (eg briefly share your relationship to the person and time you've known him/her)
- The core of the Eulogy should be an outline of the person and his her life. Some people like it to be very rich in personal anecdotes but this is personal preference.
- The end should be memorable and moving. It should feel natural to end at that point.
The most important thing is to write from your heart and express what means the most to you. And remember you don’t have to do it alone - there are resources around that can help.
What to include
There are no rules for eulogy content. Strive to make yours interesting and resist the temptation to simply write a cradle to grave story – add a true sense of the person to your storytelling. Eulogies may cover everything from early childhood, school days, career, family life – parents, siblings, marriage, children and grandchildren to personal qualities, hobbies, club memberships and highlights throughout the lifetime. For example:
For a Eulogy with a difference, here’s an idea. Complete the statements below and you’ll have a really good picture of someone’s personality, their likes and dislikes – you’ll not only jog memories, you’ll create some laughs, brighten the mood and maybe even surprise a few people.
Your loved one's:
- favourite food
- favourite sport
- favourite holiday place
- favourite book
- favourite song or singer
- favourite actor
- favourite saying
- favourite piece of advice
- favourite colour
- favourite pastime
- favourite TV show or movie
- favourite pet
- favourite dessert
- favourite joke
- best advice
And now perhaps for balance .... you might want to add your loved one's:
- most annoying habit
- pet aversion
- least favourite person on TV
- greatest fear
Maybe also think about including:
- What was it that made you close?
- What did you most admire/respect?
- What will you miss/remember most?
- What was it like to know your loved one?
- What were the very important ways your loved one helped to you and/or your family?
Hope these tips help you in the writing of the Eulogy.