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How to Write a Eulogy

How to Write a Eulogy

How to Write a Eulogy:  Writing a eulogy for a friend or family member may be one of our toughest challenges.  It may also provide one of our more rewarding experiences.  The act of delivering a eulogy is one of love and kindness.  It actually is a gift to the deceased, as well as, the family and friends gathered for the funeral.

Our purpose is to help you navigate this challenge with grace and aplomb.

If you have found our site, it is likely because you have been charged with delivering a eulogy for a love one who has recently passed.  Please accept our warmest condolences for your loss and our tremendous respect for your undertaking.

I believe we have assembled some of the finest content to assist your eulogy planning so please take your time in reviewing our materials.  We are honored to play even the slightest of roles in the preparation of your tribute.

What is a Eulogy?

Eulogy is derived from the Greek word eulogia meaning “good words”.  Today it is used to define a speech or tribute spoken at one’s funeral.

Eulogies are typically brief, three to ten minutes, depending upon the number of speakers and the full scope of the service.

But more importantly, a eulogy is an opportunity to reflect over a life lived.  It represents an opportunity to punctuate the character and passions of the recently deceased while providing comfort and context to those paying tribute.

(Eulogy Definition)

 

How to Write a Eulogy

Studies have revealed that, as a society, our fear of public speaking is greater even than our fear of death.  The inevitable punch line then is that at a funeral, the person in the casket is more at ease than the one at the lectern.

I suppose there is a bit of truth in the sentiment.  After all, only one of the two can feel stress but in that context we would all much prefer to deal with a little anxiety.

Our objective is to help you to minimize that anxiety and we’ll jump into that process by offering our best advice on how to write a eulogy.

As with most things in life, having a plan or approach is critical to successfully crafting a eulogy.  The time following the loss of a loved one can be both emotional and stressful, which only increases the significance of having a specific and effective plan.

Your plan should resemble the following:

 

How to write a eulogy, Gather InformationGather Information collect lots of information about the deceased.  Talk to family, friends, or even co-workers.  Although you might be tempted into thinking that you know everything about the departed, ask others about their favorite memories or stories.  You may be surprised to learn something new and interesting that you’ll want to include.   More information on this topic.

How to Write a Eulogy, Organize your MaterialsOrganize and Outline Your Content Group similar traits, stories, and events.  Plan to use a variety so you’re able to reflect the whole person.  Be sure to illustrate with stories or anecdotes the qualities and characteristics held by the departed rather than simply inventorying them.  For example, rather than simply sharing that your grandfather was a caring person, instead share a story of him teaching you to ride your first bike and bandaging your scrapped knee.  More information on this topic.

How to Write a Eulogy, Write and Re-WriteWrite and Re-write Start to put your thoughts down onto paper.  Write in a conversational tone so it will sound natural and have a flow.  This will prevent you from bouncing topic to topic.  The most important part of good writing is the re-writing.  Put your thoughts on paper and then re-read and re-write your content.  More information on this topic.

How to Write a Eulogy, RehearseRehearse and Fine Tune Practice saying the words out loud.  This will help with some of the emotions as some memories may be hard to say out loud.  Speaking the words will also help iron out some of the language.  Sometimes we write differently from how we speak.  Further, you do not need to memorize every word but the practice or reading will help familiarize yourself with the flow.  Recruit trusted friends or family to listen and offer their feedback from the perspective of the audience.  More information on this topic.

How to Write a Eulogy, Stand and DeliverDeliver with Confidence Be brave and poised when you step up to speak.  Remember that you are giving a gift to both the deceased and the audience.  Everyone in attendance is there to honor the deceased and they both appreciate and respect what you are doing.  You are not selling or presenting a report as you might in other public speaking situations, instead you are giving voice to the group and paying high honor to the departed.  Your eulogy is a gift and only through your preparations can you give well.  More information on this topic.

 

How to Write a Eulogy, Eulogies Made Easy 2

 

Characteristics of a Eulogy

Your eulogy should reflect your personality as well as that of the departed.  A blend of solemnity and humor is appropriate but find the appropriate balance that contributes to the memory.

Eulogies are typically short, three to ten minutes in length depending upon the number of speakers and the outline for the service.  If you’re delivering the eulogy you’ll want to participate in these decisions or at least be keenly aware of what is expected.

An individual’s faith plays a strong role in their life, but an even stronger role in their passing.  As a remembrance of the departed, share the role that their faith played in their life.  Without sermonizing – this too is a balance to strike based on the principals – share the comfort afforded the deceased through their faith and acknowledge the natural opportunity a funeral service is for others to consider their own mortality.  Perhaps there is an opportunity to learn from the departed.

A funeral service is a time to both mourn the loss and celebrate the life.  Humor, as noted, can play a role here but so too can happy stories, celebrations of faith, or even music.

Plan to touch upon multiple phases and components in the life of the departed – childhood, youth, education, marriage, family, work, hobbies and faith are all facets that weave together into the story of our lives.  Pull threads from several of these to craft your best tribute.

 

How to Deliver a Eulogy

When the day of the service arrives, the bulk of your preparation should be complete.  You have gathered information and prepared your talk.  Perhaps you have not committed the speech to memory word for word, but you are familiar with your outline and anchor points.  Now, there are a few last minute tactical steps you can take to finalize your prep.

Read through one more time aloud and practice your tone and tempo.  You want to be over prepared to the degree possible.

Wear loose and comfortable clothing.  Dress appropriate for the setting, but purposely choose an outfit that is not tight or restrictive.  Any discomfort afforded by your clothing will be amplified throughout the event.

Keep a printed copy of your notes handy.  Even if you think you have it memorized, have the notes available as a backup.  They are there if you need them and they provide confidence if you do not.

Double space and use a large font when printing.  You do not want to be squinting to read your notes.

Provide someone with a copy of your notes.  Emotions may get the better of you in the moment.  That is fine and perfectly understandable.  With notes, someone else will be able to step in and share your thoughts, your gift, if you are unable.

Empty your pockets.  You do not want nervous hands rattling car keys or spare change.  Nor do you want a cell phone interrupting your moment of tribute.

Meanwhile, have both a bottle of water and handkerchief handy.  Sweaty palms and a dry throat are common symptoms of nerves.  Knowing you can address both can provide an extra measure of readiness.

Take deep breaths.  Filling your lungs with air will prevent you from taking shallow gulps of air.  Take a deep breath before walking to the lectern and again as you steady yourself to speak.  Pause to repeat while speaking either at natural breaks or as you need to regain your composure.

 

Most importantly, remember why you are presenting the eulogy.  Either you were asked or you volunteered and there are clear reasons for either.  You and the deceased shared a significant relationship and this is an opportunity to honor that bond.  Know that they are proud of you.

 

We Are Here to Help

We hope this is starting to provide a measure of comfortable and readiness as you prepare to write a eulogy.  A number of articles and resources are available for you on this site and we hope you will find exactly what you need to ready your preparations.

Thanks for sharing this time with us and please accept our sincere condolences on your loss.

photo: unfrienzied space

 

What is a Funeral?

what is a funeral

Derived from the Latin word funus, by definition, a funeral is an observance or ceremony that is held for a person who has died that is typically held prior to the cremation or burial of the body.  Though the rites and rituals associated with funerals can vary greatly based on country, culture or religion, there are common threads that can be found among them, most notably in the purpose of the funeral.

In most cases, a funeral represents a break in normal routine that is intended to allow the family and friends of the deceased to gather and mourn the death of a loved one, as well as afford them an opportunity to remember the life of the person they lost.

As natural as death is, some people are so uncomfortable with the idea that they avoid funerals altogether.  Others, however, view funerals as a necessary step in healing because, rather than having a negative impact on the grieving process, attending a funeral can be beneficial to it.

 

Support

During periods of great loss and deep grief, an opportunity to meet with those who are also struggling with the loss can provide the support and strength needed to move forward.  Sometimes a funeral service is where we initially fellowship with others who share in our grief, and it’s often where we begin to build the support network that will help us in the healing process.

Expression

A pain as intimate as the kind we feel after losing someone is not something people are generally comfortable sharing in mixed company.  One of the benefits of attending a funeral is that it provides a safe, secure place to express the grief, shock, and pain associated with such a devastating loss.

Reflection

One of the most significant functions of a funeral is the focus on celebrating the life of the deceased.  Mourners are usually offered the chance to reflect on the character and accomplishments of the person who died, and share their feelings on what the person meant to them.

For the loved ones in attendance, the memories shared by others and their personal reflections on the positive aspects of the decedent’s life can be a light in an otherwise dark experience.  We often find peace in hearing about the impact those we have lost have had on the lives of other people.

 

Closure

A final benefit associated with attending a funeral is that it provides an opportunity for closure.  Most often, the body of the deceased is displayed during the funeral, and, as part of the funeral, there is a procession of mourners who pass in front of the casket.  Sometimes the casket is open and sometimes it’s not, but the seemingly small gesture of saying goodbye to our loved one’s physical body is a powerful step in facilitating the healing process.  It offers a sense of finality when we see with our own eyes that our loved one has passed away.

 

A funeral is much more than a ceremony held for a person who has died.  It is an event where we can find support and be supportive of others.  It is also a place where we can safely and openly express our grief and reflect on the life of the person we have lost.  Most importantly, a funeral is often where we take our first steps toward closure so we can begin to heal.

 

See Funeral Planning