A Eulogy is a speech given at a Memorial or Funeral Service. It is a memorable way to Celebrate a Life and to tell, share and rejoice the life story of your loved one.
It can be delivered by a family member, close friend, priest, minister/pastor or Funeral Celebrant and it commemorates and celebrates the life of the deceased.
Eulogies began in ancient Greece and the tradition continues today; it is still very common practice, although not all cultures and religions include Eulogies in their Funeral proceedings.
There are many ways to pay homage to the deceased. It should be a tribute which matches your loved one’s personality. It may be written as a story, outlining highlights of the person’s life, education, traits, personality, school, work life, relationships, sports, hobbies and interests, for example.
How do I go about writing a Eulogy?
People often find the task of writing and performing a Eulogy quite daunting, but it can be a wonderful way to remember a loved-one and share some special memories.
It can also be an important part of the healing process. It is an honour to be asked to deliver a Eulogy. It means those organising the funeral believe you are capable, and know the deceased well enough, to write something meaningful. With the right preparation, you can create a memorable experience for everyone present and make it less traumatic for you. The person writing and delivering the Eulogy at a Funeral Service should leave attendees feeling like they know the deceased better than they did at the start of it.
A good starting point is to sit down and jot down things you remember about him/her, just as they come to mind.
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.
Things to think about
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 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.
4. 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.
5. Timing is everything - make sure you meet the deadline
It is important to email a copy of your Eulogy / 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 Funeral Service to the family which includes all the Tributes and the Eulogy.
6. Strive to make your Eulogy interesting
Resist simply writing a cradle to grave story. The aim should be to add 'a true sense of the person' to your storytelling.
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 plenty of online and book resources around, and your Funeral Celebrant can also help.
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 person's lifetime.
For a Eulogy with a difference, here’s an idea:
Complete these statements 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.
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.
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:
Full name and nicknames
When and where the person was born
Parents’ names; Siblings – brothers and sisters
Schools attended, achievements and memories
Qualifications gained – school, tertiary, trades, other
War or military service
Marriage(s), divorce(s) and significant relationships
Where they lived as an adult
Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren
Other significant family influences in their life
Where they worked
Favourite passions, hobbies and interests
Favourite sayings, quotes, books, music, tv shows, colours, flowers etc
Likes and dislikes
Community and club memberships
Characteristics – What will you miss? What did you admire?
Legacy - How have they left their mark on the world?
If you could say one more thing to them, what would it be?
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 holiday place
favourite song or singer
favourite piece of advice
favourite TV show or movie
And now perhaps for balance .... you might want to add your loved one's:
most annoying habit
least favourite person on TV
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.