Depending on your relationship with the deceased, you may be asked to deliver a eulogy during their funeral service. This, however, is easier said than done as it can be difficult finding the right words to embody someone you shared a close relationship with and know how to write a eulogy.
Often pegged as the most difficult speech to give, a eulogy or remembrance speech is an address given at a memorial or funeral service paying tribute to the deceased. Although writing a eulogy isn’t mandatory, it can be the most critical part of the service. This is a time when close friends and family can acknowledge the importance of their loved one and remind others of the impact they had in life.
Being asked to give a eulogy at the funeral of a loved one is a great honour. You are charged with writing a speech celebrating the deceased and delivering this speech at their funeral. Adding to that is the pressure that you have to prepare a eulogy within a very short timeframe during a deeply emotional time between their death and funeral or memorial service.
There’s a possibility that people at the funeral may not know the departed that well, especially not the way you do. The eulogy is an opportunity to shed light on what they were like and share stories that demonstrate how they lived. This makes writing a eulogy a daunting task to find the right combination of words and personal stories to describe a person.
Below, we have created a comprehensive guide on how to write a eulogy to help you get started.
Planning Your Eulogy
You don’t have to be a professional writer to pen down a great eulogy. Remember that your eulogy doesn’t just have to look good on paper, it also has to be delivered in front of people, most of whom could very well be strangers.
The best eulogies are short, specific, thoughtful and, in most cases, not without a touch of humour. Therefore, your eulogy has to be well planned out in advance, so everything comes out great.
The first step to drafting a funeral speech is taking some time to brainstorm a few thoughts and ideas that will guide how you write. You can start by arranging your thoughts and searching for information about the deceased, including:
- your favourite memory of them
- what made your relationship special
- something they always said or were known to do
- what they were best known for in their local area or amongst friends
- positive information about them that not everyone knows
- what people loved most about them
- how you would describe them using your own words.
When you’re done brainstorming and collecting this information, you should start seeing a pattern that will guide how you’ll deliver the eulogy. Keep the eulogy positive and personal as much as you can.
Find Out More About the Funeral Service
We recommend finding more about the service and funeral arrangements before you start writing a eulogy. Here are a few questions you that are important to know:
- What kind of service will occur?
- How long should your speech be?
- Who will be attending the funeral?
- Are there more people giving eulogies before or after you?
This will save you from spending hours writing the perfect twenty minutes eulogy only to find out that you’ve been allocated a five-minute speaking slot at the funeral. Between five and ten minutes is a recommended eulogy time.
Write a Rough Draft
With this information at your fingertips, it’s time to write the first draft of your eulogy based on the facts and key points you brainstormed. You can begin by sharing personal stories and memories of the deceased and end by talking about what you would miss most about them. The best way to connect with people at the funeral service is by sharing something new about the deceased.
You can begin by sharing personal stories and memories of the deceased and end by talking about what you would miss most about them.
This rough draft doesn’t have to be perfect and there’s no need to use fancy words or complicated phrasing. It’s easier for mourners to understand and relate to simple words and phrasing, making them just as effective.
Give It a Structure
Now that you have the broad outlines of your eulogy, it’s time to start implementing some structure. Depending on the tone of voice or desired effect you’re going for, you may want to include the following:
- Opening remarks/introduction.
- Your thanks if you’re an immediate family member or condolences if you’re not.
- Talk about the deceased (this is the focus of your eulogy).
- Include any special messages or personal anecdotes.
- Final farewell and words of comfort.
Organisation and structure is key to delivering a memorable eulogy. It helps with the flow and assists listeners to follow along and be swept up in the stories and memories you are treating them to.
Edit and Refine Your Speech
You should have a more concise eulogy by now. But it’s essential to go through your speech several times, correcting and optimising where necessary. Look at the flow of ideas with a critical eye and ensure that all stories and anecdotes will make sense to those who would be hearing them for the first time.
A valuable trick that writers use as part of the editing process is to read their work out loud. This helps pick up unnecessary errors and places where sentences can get stuck or don’t sound natural.
Practise Your Delivery
Finally, it’s time to practise your speech, paying close attention to your delivery. Practising your speech beforehand helps you:
- cut out repetitive or unnecessary parts of your speech
- ensure your speech is delivered in its entirety within the allocated time limit
- gain more confidence in your message.
The eulogy doesn’t have to be perfect. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you give your loved one a well-deserved tribute that comes straight from the heart. Keep the goal of the eulogy (to share heart-filled memories of a loved one) top of mind through the writing and delivery process. This speech isn’t about you, it’s about the people who are celebrating a loved one’s life.
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