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7 Tips for Writing a Good Eulogy

Writing a good eulogy
Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

7 Tips for Writing a Good Eulogy

Have you been asked to write a eulogy but not got a clue where to start? Read our 7 tips to help you write a eulogy that is heartfelt, personal and truly captures the person that has died.

A eulogy is a funeral reading that describes the life of the person who has died. It's an opportunity to reflect on their life and achievements, share cherished memories and funny stories. A eulogy can be delivered by a family member, friend or be read on your behalf by the minister or celebrant leading the service.

1. Reflect on their life

When drafting a eulogy, to read at a funeral service, it is a good idea to reflect on the life and legacy of the person that has died. Consider their passions, achievements, quirks and the impact they had on others. Think about the stories and memories that come to mind when you think of them. What were their defining qualities? What made them special? Allow these thoughts and memories to guide you as you begin to write.

2. Include some facts

A eulogy can talk about a person's life history, highlighting their achievements and sharing happy memories. Sometimes it can be useful to start with the facts, such as key dates in their life, mentioning special relationships and people. Seeking input from family members and friends would help others to feel included.

3. Share personal anecdotes

Eulogies don't have to be a chronological account of a person's life. Instead, they can be an opportunity to share personal anecdotes that highlight the unique qualities of the person that has died. You could recall moments that showcase their sense of humour, kindness or wisdom or you can share stories that show their passions and accomplishments. It is these personal touches will help make the eulogy more relatable and engaging for the audience.

4. Acknowledge the impact on your life

You can acknowledge the impact the person that has died has had on your life and the lives of others in a eulogy. It is a good idea to thank the person for the lessons they taught you, the love they shared or the support they provided to others. Reflecting on the positive qualities they possessed and being grateful for the ways in which they enriched the lives of those around them can provide comfort during times of grief.

5. Keep it upbeat and positive

It may not be easy to think about happy or positive stories about the person that has died, if there was estrangement within the family. In these instances, you may choose to be honest about their character but selective with the stories you share or you may decide to keep it brief and stick to facts only. There are no right or wrong ways to deliver a eulogy.

6. Watch your timings

People struggle to stay attentive to a eulogy longer than 5 minutes, for most people that is approximately 700 words. Keep this in mind and focus on the most important content.

7. Practice and delivery

Public speaking is no easy task! Especially at an emotional time. Once you have written your eulogy, take the time to practice it. Reading it out loud will help you refine the wording and ensure that it flows smoothly. Pay attention to your pacing, tone, and emotions as you practice. Remember to breathe and take pauses when needed. While it is natural to feel emotional during the delivery, try to maintain composure and speak clearly, so that your words can be heard and understood by all. Don't forget your tissues if you might get teary! Engage with your audience, ensuring you give eye contact and let them feel part of the service. Thank people for attending, as some people may have travelled a distance to attend. And try to keep it light hearted, the best eulogies I've heard have had people laughing one moment and crying the next.

In summary:

  • Reflect on the life of the person that has died and what were their defining qualities;
  • Check key facts and information with friends and family;
  • Share personal anecdotes about the person, showcasing their personality, achievements etc. Details, even small ones, help to capture who the person was;
  • Think about the impact the person who has died had on others;
  • Structure your eulogy - with a beginning, middle and end;
  • Think about tone. The eulogies that are the most touching are written to truly reflect the person that has died. They aren't overly formal and inject a little humour where appropriate;
  • The hardest part of writing a eulogy is starting. The best thing to do is to get as much written down as you can, and then edit it. The ideas are likely to flow once you make a start;
  • Practice what you have written. You don't have to know it off by heart but if you know your subject it will make it easier to read on the day.