Writing a Eulogy
Giving a eulogy is something most of us prefer never to do because it means the recent loss of a loved one. But knowing how to write a eulogy well is a great way to convey love, respect and honor to your loved one, helping those in the audience remember their friend in a thoughtful way.
Something you absolutely don’t want to do is to talk about morose things, like how the person died or how people are struggling with their loss.
The best eulogies have the perfect mix of solemnity, respect and even a touch of humor, while being both specific about their lost loved one, as well as not too lengthy. Funerals are sad events that people have to go to, but they can also be uplifting and encouraging with the right eulogy.
5 Smart Steps on How to Write a Eulogy
We share a handful of tips that will help you write a poignant eulogy that will help family and friends remember their loved one with full hearts.
- Use an Organized Outline to Plan Your Thoughts
- Introduce yourself and how you knew the deceased, and give a short biography about them – where they were born, went to school, raised their family, etc. These statements of facts are just setting up your personal stories for later.
- Discuss the loved one and how he/she affected the lives of those around him/her in a positive way.
- Tell a story or a possibly humorous anecdote that showed how he/she affected the lives of others.
- Mention some of the things he/she held important, and maybe how it now changes how you look at those things (collections, hobbies, philosophies, etc.).
- Conclude with a final story or anecdote that you believe will touch the hearts and minds of the audience, giving them a final thought to remember him/her by. Basically, restate the main message of your eulogy, and how this person will be remembered by those that loved him/her.
- Know Your Audience
If it’s a small family affair, or you know essentially all of the funeral’s attendees, you can probably use more humor than if you are speaking to a large audience you aren’t familiar with. Also, think about the most common ages of your audience members, and consider their frames of reference.
Showing respect for both the deceased and their mourners is your main objective, while also sharing interesting points about the life lost by your friend.
- Share Personal Stories
This the most important part of your eulogy, as it connects the audience emotionally to their loved one. Before you sit down to write your eulogy, talk with their close friends and relatives, asking them about particular instances that they’ll remember specifically about their friend.
See if there’s a cohesive trait that connects all of these stories from different people together. Does each story show a certain amount of compassion and love? Are all the stories funny? Does it show how the deceased was always there to help when others weren’t?
If you don’t get two or three good stories, consider reading a poem that might inspire the audience to treat life and death in an honorable and celebrated manner.
Ideally, you’ll even get a good story or two from the person’s friends and family that you can use in the eulogy, giving them credit for the story, of course, “Tom told me earlier one of the things he’ll remember most about her was the time she …”
By mentioning two or three stories, you can really bring the audience something that they can take home with them, a memory they otherwise wouldn’t have been a part of.
- Be Honest, But Not Negative
There’s no doubt the person you’re eulogizing had some faults, and maybe they rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. There are ways to insinuate things without being negative, saying bad things about the person you all came to memorialize. “He always wore his heart on his sleeve, and you knew where he stood at all times.” Or you could say, “She was never afraid to give you guidance in your life – even if you didn’t ask for it,” is a humorous way to explain how the woman often shared her opinions on what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
You don’t have to lie about anyone, but you can certainly paint them in a better light with the right words. Remember that you’ve been asked to say some kind words about the departed, so make sure you do just that.
- Read It In Front of a Couple Friends First
Once you think you’re done with writing your eulogy, try reading it to a friend or two, and get some advice. They might tell you some information is superfluous, something might be too personal, or maybe just that it’s too long. But you’ll also get a chance to say the words you wrote out loud, which will sound differently than when you read them. Adjust accordingly.
Figure that your eulogy should time out to be about three or four minutes long, which is enough to touch on everything we mentioned.
You don’t have to read your eulogy word for word – and you probably shouldn’t, since it should come from your heart. But bringing up a brief outline to remind you about stories is a good way to help you keep the eulogy moving.
Knowing how to write a eulogy is very much like learning how to change a flat tire – you want to know how to do it, but you very much hope the times you have to do it in your life are few. At The Gardens of Boca Raton Cemetery and Chapel, we’ve heard thousands of eulogies, and we’d be happy to offer some advice if you have any questions.