If you’ve lost someone close to you, you may find yourself responsible for writing and sharing a eulogy for their funeral. This can be an emotional and difficult task. To help you through the process we’ve created the following guide.
Planning and Research
When writing a eulogy, you may find it useful to prioritise what you want to include in your speech and plan how you want to structure it. For example, you might want to timeline your loved one’s life and key events or just share some specific, memorable moments. It can be good to talk to friends and family and ask them to share their favourite memories with you; not only can this help you to share your grief, but it will allow you to develop a strong picture of how your loved one is remembered. Writing down these memories is helpful too – allowing you to refer to them later as you draft the eulogy.
Tell a story
Remember that you are not obliged to write your loved one’s life history, or a detailed biography. The idea of a eulogy is to share with others great memories and provide an opportunity for people to reflect on your loved one’s legacy. Telling a story is a heart-warming way of connecting with others.
When writing a eulogy, it’s a good idea to write how you speak and not prioritise grammar. Overcomplicating your speech can be pressurising and make it difficult to read to an audience. You may find it easier to list points and keywords rather than write in whole sentences. The important thing is to remember that you should do whatever is comfortable for you. Don’t forget to practice reading your eulogy out loud too – it can help you make useful changes and make it an easier read on the day.
What should I include?
There’s no right or wrong way to write a eulogy, but here are a few ideas of things you could include:
- Roles and relationships with friends and family
- Personality traits, hobbies, and passions
- Achievements or successes
- Career highlights, especially if this was an important part of your loved one’s life
- Memorable moments and funny stories
- Any favourite sayings, quotes, poems, or songs
Don’t feel you have to ignore any difficulties your loved one may have faced and overcome in their life. If parts of their life were particularly challenging you might want to include them, if you feel it’s the right thing to do.
The following is a possible structure which you might feel is useful to follow, or include elements of:
Introduction: ‘We are gathered today to celebrate the life of my late father George….’
Brief summary of their family life: ‘George was born in 1945, the first son to his mother and father…. They lived in….and later moved to…. George worked at….and later as… George had two sons….and was very proud to be a grandfather to….’
Personality: ‘George was a kind, caring and loving father, grandfather, and friend; nothing was ever too much trouble, and he was always here to help….’
Your relationship: ‘George was my father and the best dad I could ever have asked for….’
Hobbies and passions: ‘George enjoyed fishing, in fact, mum always use to say it was his second love….’
Notable accomplishments: ‘George was delighted to win an award for….’
Shared memories and stories: ‘Anyone who knows George will remember the time he…. We spent many happy summer holidays together….’
Any challenges in their life that you think should be included: ‘Unfortunately in his later years George had many health problems, but he always put on a brave face….’
Conclusion: ‘I’d like to thank you for joining us today to celebrate the life of my late father, George….’
How long should a eulogy be?
There are a few factors that can affect how long a eulogy can be, and it’s a good idea to discuss the length of the service with your clergy member or celebrant. Typically, eulogies are between 5 and 10 minutes long. If there is a particular time allowance allocated to your speech it can help you practice too.
Who reads a eulogy?
Eulogies can be read by anyone but are usually delivered by you, a close friend or family member, a minister, or a celebrant. If you or a friend/family member are speaking, then it’s important that you/they are comfortable to do so. Talking about a loved one at a funeral can be a very emotional experience and made even more difficult in front of a group of people who themselves may be very upset or emotional. It can be a good idea to have someone on hand to step in, just in case.
Writing a eulogy can be difficult but it’s a lovely way to personalise the funeral of a loved one and celebrate their life and legacy. By sharing stories and memories with others, you can form connections and learn more about the person you loved.
Suggested readingComing to terms with grief
What should I consider when choosing a coffin for a loved one?
Choosing an Urn