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How to Write a Eulogy

Journalist, Peggy Noonan said, “I love eulogies. They are the most moving kind of speech because they attempt to pluck meaning from the fog, and on short order, when the emotions are still ragged and raw and susceptible to leaps.”  

Delivering a eulogy is an opportunity to contribute to a memorial service, a gesture that your friends and family will remember for a long time. For that reason, if you are asked to write one, we suggest you consider doing so. Writing a eulogy is also a therapeutic tool to help you deal with your grief. The power of writing is undeniable and there is no better time than now for you to discover and take advantage of this.

What Should Your Eulogy Accomplish

People often think one of two things about a eulogy:

  • it should be an objective summation of the deceased's life
  • it should speak for everyone who is present at the memorial service

Both of these assumptions are just plain unrealistic since you can't possibly be objective after losing a loved one or sum up a person’s life in just a few minutes.

It's best to think of the eulogy as a way to convey the feelings and experiences of the person giving the eulogy. The most touching and meaningful eulogies are written from a subjective point of view and from the heart so don't feel compelled to write your loved one's life story.

Tell your story

Writing a eulogy does not have to be your responsibility alone. If you have the time, ask friends or relatives for their recollections and stories.

Honesty is very important. In most cases, there will be a lot of positive qualities to talk about. If, however, you are writing about someone with more negative traits than positive qualities, don't say everything if it will make you or the guests feel uncomfortable. Just be as honest as you can and do your best to show the full humanity – both the good and the not-so-good characteristics of the deceased. After all, everyone there knew the person and is there because they want to acknowledge their relationship to the deceased. In other words, you have a warm audience that will welcome your words.

Don’t Strive for Perfection – You’ll Make Yourself Crazy

Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect eulogy. Whatever you write and deliver will be appreciated. If you are inclined to be a perfectionist, lower your expectations and just do what you can considering the short timeframe for preparation and your emotional state.

When You Step Up to the Podium

  • Realize that people are not going to judge you. They will be very supportive. No matter what happens, it will be okay. If you break down in the middle of your speech, everyone will understand. Take a moment to compose and then continue. There is no reason to be embarrassed. Remember, giving a eulogy is a noble gesture that people will appreciate and admire.
  • Make the eulogy easy to read. Print out the eulogy in a large type size. If you are writing it by hand, print the final version in large letters and give the words room to breathe by writing on every second or third line.
  • Have a small cup of water handy. Sipping water before you start and during the speech will help relax you.
  • If you are nervous beforehand, breathe deeply. Remind yourself that everything will be fine. It will be. Look around at your relatives and friends and realize that they are with you 100 percent.
  • Realize that it is acceptable to read the eulogy. You don’t have to make eye contact with anyone.
  • Take your time and simply do the best you can. No one expects you to have the delivery of a great orator or the stage presence of an actor. Just be you.

Should you need any more advice on writing a eulogy for a loved one, just call us.