How To Write A Good Eulogy

Posted: 15/02/2018

The task of writing a good eulogy is no easy feat. At an already emotional time, writing and giving a eulogy can be difficult when you a trying to cope with your own grief, organise funeral plans, as well as the pressures and responsibility of trying to getting the tone right and honouring the memory of the person who has passed away. In addition, you may have worries about saying it too – especially if public speaking is something that does not come naturally to you generally. In summary, it is not surprising that writing a eulogy can be a stressful experience.

However, it is important to remember that each and every eulogy is unique. There is never one particular way of writing one, and no wrong way to do so either.  Here, we offer a guide on some of the best ways in which you can prepare for a eulogy so that you can both express your sorrow but also celebrate the life of the person who has passed.

Things to consider when writing a eulogy – the audience

One of the most important aspects when it comes to writing a good eulogy isn’t exactly the most obvious one. We may become so focused on writing about the person whom we are describing, that we forgot about the audience that it is going to be addressed to. However, considering your audience as one of the best things you can do when trying to write a eulogy, such as the following

  • How long will the eulogy be? Try to keep a eulogy to a reasonable length. At the best of times, people find it difficult to fully concentrate on one person for a long time. At an incredibly poignant and sad event such as a funeral, this ability to concentrate may be pushed even further to the limit.
  • Who will be at the funeral? This is important, as you may want to tailor your eulogy depending on who or who isn’t there. Would you want the family and close friends to hear everything you are planning to say in the eulogy? Consider this carefully.
  • How will they feel? Given that people who will be present will be those who were close to the person who has passed, it is likely the eulogy will make people feel emotional. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that the eulogy has to be completely and utterly depressing. There is no reason why the speech can’t uplift the audience.

Thoughts about the eulogy – regarding the person who has passed

Perhaps the most difficult part of writing a eulogy is when it comes to thinking of the person who has passed. The pressure of honouring their memory can become overwhelming. Yet, generally speaking, some of the best ways you can start a eulogy could be talking about memories you have of that person – ones that most symbolise them, that best describe the sort of person they were. Or perhaps sad or funny memories too. The main point should be that these stories or qualities you discuss should help to build a vivid picture of the deceased.

Here are some suggestions to give you ideas:

  • What were their milestones in life? What would the person have described as the biggest achievements in their life? Would it be when they were young and at university, or perhaps in middle age or when they were older? Would their biggest achievements be at work, or at home? Did they have any particular talents worth mentioning? Did they have any lifelong commitments to any charities or organisations?
  • What do you think? What do you immediately think of when you think of this person, how do they make you feel? What things did the two of you do together?
  • What were their characteristics? Did they have any particular funny habits or foibles, major likes or dislikes or favourite hobbies?
  • When were they at the happiest? Who and what made them happiest?
  • Depending on how relevant it is, and the nature of the death, is it worth mentioning challenges or difficult times that the person experienced and how they overcome it? It could make for an inspiring story that can remind people about why they loved the person who has passed.

Writing the eulogy

Whilst thinking about what to say in a eulogy can be difficult, it can be even harder to put pen to paper. We take a look at some of the ways you can prepare when it comes to writing.

  • Consider how you want to structure it. If writing that first line makes you feel like you keep hitting a bit of a brick wall, why not go for the middle section of the eulogy first? Whatever order you write the speech doesn’t really matter, and many find that writing the main part first is easier.
  • When it comes to structure you should also consider what order would be best to follow. Would it be better to go in chronological order, from childhood through to their later years, or go in reverse order?
  • Try to avoid cliches, a eulogy is supposed to be unique and heartfelt, therefore giving a generalised statement feels a bit devoid of meaning. It could be best to just get straight to the point.
  • If you can help it, try not to write down the speech word-for-word. Instead, it is recommended that you write down key phrases, quotes or words on prompt cards.
  • Try to practice your eulogy out aloud to yourself a few times before you actually deliver the speech. This can help to alleviate any nerves you have about public speaking, as you will be familiar with the words on the actual day which can also make the speech sound less stilted and more relaxed to the audience. It could also be worth practising in front of someone else to, perhaps someone who was close to the person who passed away but who is willing to listen to the eulogy without feeling too upset. Doing so can give you some feedback on the speech, and feedback from others whether to include or omit certain aspects.