A eulogy is a speech given at funerals. This may sound daunting, but is really an opportunity to pay tribute to the person who has died. It’s regarded as an honour to be asked to give a eulogy for a loved one or friend and if you’ve been asked, a sign that you played an important part in that person’s life.
If you’re feeling anxious about the responsibility of getting it ‘right,’ remember that every eulogy is meant to be unique. Although there are guidelines you can follow, writing a eulogy is also about things that come from the heart.
One of the best ways to begin writing a eulogy is to talk to family members and close friends about the person who has died. Is there anything that they would like you to include or mention, or a favorite anecdote or story they’d like you to share?
You may also get inspiration from obituaries and tributes shared online and on social media. Who was the person who died in the eyes of, you, their family and friends?
Your own and other people’s memories could not only provide things to talk about, but inspire a way of summing up at the beginning and end of the eulogy who they were and what they meant.
“John was a dedicated family man, who was always there when you needed him.”
“Seeing so many people here to say goodbye to Helen today, shows just how loved she was and how much she will be missed.”
Reflecting on how well you knew the person who has died and the times you spent with them, think about life-moments that reflect their personality and set the scene. It might be how you met, the time you realised you were both in love (or had found a friend for life), or an occasion when they helped you.
Looking through photos could provide inspiration for thoughts about them and things that happened in their life.
Once you have gathered enough information, you may want to make notes about where each bit will fit in your eulogy, so you have a rough beginning, a middle and an end to work to. Try these ways of mapping out ideas as you write a eulogy.
Mood board – this is a type of collage that can include pictures, text and materials arranged in any order you like. Try adding a photo of your loved one; post-it notes with sayings or phrases written on them; key dates such as marriages or births; maps with important locations marked. This visual reminder of things you want to say about the person who has died may help you as you consider how to write a eulogy.
Timeline – There are no rules for writing a eulogy, so you don’t have to get everything in order or precisely dated. But constructing a timeline of the person’s most significant life moments may help you to better decide what to include in your speech.
Keywords – make a list of words to describe the person. Think of as many words as you can and then highlight which words you think are most fitting. This list can act as a helpful prompt if you become stuck while writing a eulogy.
The eulogy can be delivered by a family member or celebrant, this should be decided before the ceremony so the information can be included in the printed order of service.