How to Write a Eulogy
A funeral is not simply a burial or cremation, going through the motions and saying our goodbyes to those we love. It is an opportunity for family, friends, co-workers and neighbours to come together and celebrate the life of someone they loved and more importantly, remember them.
While there are many ways in which we pay tribute to our loved ones during the funeral process whether it be through their favourite music or displaying their photo during the service, there’s nothing quite as personal as a eulogy.
However, if writing a eulogy is going to be your responsibility, it can feel like an incredible amount of pressure. After all, not only will all eyes be on your during the time it will take you to deliver it, but writing and delivering a summary of someone’s entire life is certainly a daunting prospect. But with the right mindset and preparation, you can write the most heartfelt eulogy that will capture your guests’ attention and ensure that your loved one is remembered in the most authentic and meaningful eulogy possible.
Take the Time to Plan the Eulogy
With everything else going on during the funeral planning process, it can be easy to either leave the eulogy till the last minute or actively put it off due to nerves. But the best way of ensuring that your eulogy is crafted perfectly is to give it the time and attention it deserves.
Of course, there are funeral preparations that require more pressing attention in the very early stages, such as choosing a venue, organising the burial or cremation and letting friends and family know. But once the big decisions have been made, you can start to focus on the smaller touches that will make the funeral as memorable as possible.
Even if you are the sort of person who is perfectly comfortable with public speaking and even prefers to go with your gut rather than writing something down, it may be worth making an exception in this case.
Not only will writing down the eulogy help you to structure it in the best way possible, but should you find yourself upset while delivering it, it’s much more likely you’ll be able to get through what you have to say when you’re not relying on your memory or instincts. It will also be easy for someone else to step in for you should you be unable to finish for whatever reason.
Where To Get Inspiration for a Eulogy?
Eulogies are meant to celebrate and remember the life of a loved one and so there is really no right or wrong way to write them, but if you are struggling for inspiration, then thinking about the structure may help further ideas to flow. Most eulogies are written in a chronological fashion, describing and commenting on the loved one’s important life milestones as well as reflecting on the impact they had on the lives of the people around them.
Once you have this basic structure in place, finding some moments of quiet and reflecting yourself upon your loved one’s life is a good place to start when searching for inspiration. Most people have a trait or quality about them that is instantly recognisable and memorable about them, whether it be their personality or something they loved when they were alive. Whether it’s their famous humour or a band they adored throughout their entire life, finding those memorable details can aid in the early stages of writing a eulogy.
Of course, you should never feel that you are alone when writing a eulogy. In fact, friends and family will probably be more than happy to help and feel included in the process. After all, a funeral is all about communal remembrance so if you feel like writing the eulogy alone is too much pressure or you’re simply just not confident in your own skills, then turning to a friend or family member could be a positive and cathartic experience.
What Should the Tone of a Eulogy Be?
As long as the tone of the eulogy is appropriate to the audience and the person that it is about, there really is no right or wrong tone you can adopt. The key is to leave people feeling positive, thoughtful and grateful rather than adding to the sadness of the occasion.
When thinking about tone, there are three main considerations to take into account. Whether it’s true to the kind of person your loved one was, whether it’s appropriate for the people listening and whether you feel comfortable reading it yourself.
For example, even if your loved one was funny and outrageous in real life, an excessively humorous tone may not sit well with other family members, especially those that might be a little more traditional. Finding the right balance to celebrate your loved ones life without the risk of making others uncomfortable is the key to writing and delivering a eulogy.
How to Deliver a Eulogy
No matter how you prepare, delivering a eulogy is never going to be easy, but it’s important to remember that these are not strangers you’re talking to, but close friends and family. Reminding yourself of this while also keeping a conversational tone throughout your delivery should help to ease some of the tension you may feel, especially if you’re not used to public speaking.
Of course, nerves are one thing but sadness can also affect us in unexpected ways. Even if your eulogy is the funniest thing ever written, emotions will run high and it is natural that you may feel upset or even cry while delivering it. There’s no shame in this, but when writing your down your thoughts, it may be worth considering a eulogy that you think you are able to complete, so avoiding sad memories and focusing on the positives can help with that.
Pausing for thought is also a good way of grounding yourself if you feel like you may be getting swept up in your emotions. It will also make it less likely for you to trip over your words or mumble. It may be tempting to rush through the experience as quickly as possible, but taking it slow makes for a more pleasant listening experience for guests who can really let your words really sink in. However, though there is technically no time limit for a eulogy, between 5-7 minutes is usually a standard amount of time, which amounts to between 500 to 1,000 words.
Writing a eulogy is an incredibly personal experience and you should write it and deliver it in a way that makes you and your family feel the most comfortable. Remember that this is an opportunity to come together in a collective experience of memory and love for someone that was very dear to everyone in the room. It is probably one of the few moments during a funeral when you may find yourself smiling as you remember a sweet or memorable anecdote about your loved one, so take the opportunity to really think about how you want them to be remembered and what effect your eulogy will have.
We are a family-led funeral directors in Essex since 1958.
2nd March 2020 ⋅ Posted in Funeral Services