Writing a eulogy is an extremely difficult task. It is an honor to be asked to write one. However, the time following the death of a loved one is already filled with sadness and stress. The additional task of writing something that summarizes an entire life can be daunting.
A eulogy serves multiple purposes. Not only does it honor the deceased, but it can also bring the mourners closer together. Writing about your lost loved one can be cathartic and is an important part of the grieving process.
Luckily, there are resources available to help you put together a memorable eulogy. If you need advice or inspiration, you can consult guides such as this one. There are also some wonderful articles, such as this one where Lantern shows how to give a eulogy. Taking a few minutes to explore available resources will help inspire you.
Things to Consider Before You Begin Writing
- Tone – You will need to consider the tone you wish to convey with your eulogy. Don’t be afraid to make people laugh or cry. Often the best eulogies do both. The overall tone is going to be solemn. However, a few moments of levity can provide needed relief.
- Relationship – What was your relationship with the deceased? Describing this at the beginning will help others understand your experience with the deceased. This will provide helpful context for your speech as well.
- Honesty – While you don’t want to spend your speaking time criticizing the deceased, you also shouldn’t make them out to be someone they weren’t. Often people are afraid to speak honestly about the dead. However, pretending the deceased was a saint will make for an awkward and false eulogy. It is okay to acknowledge faults in a eulogy. A little honesty that presents the dead as a real person is better than false positivity.
- Stories – Every good eulogy has stories. These are what give the eulogy character and allow grievers to reflect. Communal reflection on the loss of a loved one is an important part of the grief process.
- Specificity – When you decide which stories and other pieces of information you will use, be specific. Like all good writing, the best eulogies use concrete, specific examples to paint the picture for your audience. Give mourners a specific example of the deceased’s kindness, sense of humor, or humility. You want to use examples that remind those grieving who their loved one or friend was.
- Other Elements – Think about other elements you might want to include. Did the deceased have a favorite poem, song, or quote? Was there something they were known for saying that you can use in your speech?
Constructing The Speech
Once you have thought about what you want to say, it’s time to put the eulogy together. You should always write your eulogy down. When the time comes to get up and speak, you will likely be emotional. Writing the eulogy down ahead of time gives you something to reference and ensures you say everything you want to say.
While the construction of your talk is entirely up to you and dependent on the situation, here are some general rules of thumb to use.
- First, you should briefly introduce yourself. This should be short and should include who you are and your relationship with the deceased.
- Share a story about the person. This is a great way to bring their memory to life and show a little of their personality.
- Include the blend of humor and solemnity you feel is appropriate for the situation. The number and type of stories you share will depend on the length of your speech and your relationship with the person.
- Generally, a good guideline is to keep a eulogy around 1000 words. This should take you approximately 6-7 minutes to deliver.
- End the eulogy with one specific, impactful quote, memory, or another line about the deceased.
By using these guidelines, you can put together a powerful and meaningful eulogy to honor your loved one.