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How to write a eulogy

Tue 30th Nov 2021

Sitting down to write about the life of a loved one can be met with mixed emotions. While it is an honour to be chosen to write a eulogy, it can also seem like an altogether daunting task.

To help guide you through the process of honouring a loved one's memory, we have some supportive tips below.

What is a eulogy

A eulogy is a speech about someone who has passed and although there are no rules about who can and can't deliver a eulogy, it is usually done by a family member or close friend. A celebrant, priest or minister might also be tasked if it's too overwhelming for the people closest to the deceased.

Eulogy tone

A eulogy doesn't always have to be a sombre one, sometimes the circumstances or the type of person might evoke a lighter more humorous tone. Reflecting on the person and the attendees present will help assist which path to take.

Talk to people

Commemorating the life of a loved one doesn't only have to include their special qualities, it's also a good idea to reflect on special memories shared with family and friends. To paint the perfect memorable-picture, don't be afraid to talk to those closest to the person to help bring thoughts, memories and impressions together. Sharing the responsibility of writing a eulogy might also help you feel less anxious during the process.

Eulogy format

Introduce yourself It's nice to introduce yourself to the people attending the funeral as they might not know who you are. Let them know how you're related or the story of how you met the deceased. Thanking the guests for attending the service is also a kind gesture.

Share key points

  • Where were they born
  • Where did they go to school, university, TAFE
  • Career
  • Volunteering or charitable work
  • Big events i.e. marriage, children, grandchildren, first house, tours of duty etc.
  • Their favourite pastime, movies, books or music

Share memories and stories

The most touching and meaningful eulogies are written from the heart and so it's important to include memories, stories and thoughts about the person. Together these stories will help encapsulate the true essence of the person's spirit.

Comforting close

There are a couple of ways you can close a eulogy. You might like to finish off with a comforting quote, poem or offer sincere words of comfort before saying your final goodbye. On the other hand, you might want to lift the mood and close with a funny quote or belly-laugh moment about the person.

Timing

Four to five minutes is a good time to aim for; any longer you might lose the guests attention, any shorter you might be leaving out important details. If in doubt, reach out to the person in charge and ask them how long they would like you to speak for.

Practice

Once you feel happy with what you have written, it's time to practice, practice, practice. Writing something and reading it aloud - and in front of people, are two very different things. Public speaking at the best of times can be a daunting experience, so to give yourself the best chance of delivering a memorable eulogy, it's important to prepare.

Delivering the eulogy

It can be an emotional experience delivering a eulogy, so taking a moment to think about how you might manage yourself should you get upset is a good idea. You could ask a friend or relative to stand beside you for moral support. Take a long pause and some deep breaths should the waves of emotion take hold; and remember, the people standing in front of you aren't there to judge. Instead, draw strength knowing that what you're doing for the deceased is incredibly admirable and how proud they would be of you honouring them.

One final note, remember that when writing a eulogy your words are all that really matter. Speak from the heart and the rest will follow.

By Kirsten Jakubenko

If you need further advice on how to find details of a funeral or need support dealing with grief, you can find more articles in our support and advice section here.