Writing a funeral speech can be a difficult task so having a quality eulogy example is like having a road map. A eulogy should be as unique as the individual being memorialized, so it’s likely that you’ll want to do more than simply fill in some blanks.
Having a Eulogy example is a good start, but it’s important to remember that it’s only just a starting point. A good eulogy template will add structure and support the writing process but it should not be viewed as a replacement for the exercise.
Here we’ll not only provide a eulogy format, but we’ll populate it into a full sample eulogy that you can use as a guide and template for your custom eulogy writing project.
Any speech or presentation should start with some form of introduction and a eulogy is no exception. The objective of this phase is to set the stage for the rest of your presentation. You may open with a quote or poem and follow with some biographical information, including your relationship with the deceased.
Winston Churchill once said,
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”.
Clearly Harrison lived a full live. That is manifest today with this crowd. On behalf of the family, I want to thank you all for sharing this time with us. Your presence alone is a tribute to Harrison and a demonstration of a life well lived.
As many of you know, Harrison and I were long friends. We met in college and in some respects have been inseparable ever since. He was responsible for my wife and I meeting, though we’ll save that story for another time.
Over the years the lives of our families have shared space; births, vacations, graduations, marriages, countless barbecues, and even today, a final curve in the circle of life is a moment that draws us even closer.
Tip: Many of the stock fill in the blank eulogy examples will focus on the biographical details of one’s life. Birth dates, schools, family member names etc. All of that is important and all of that should be available in the obituary and/or the funeral program. Anyone can simply re-read those materials, instead, use your time at the podium to share from the heart as only you can
Body of the Eulogy
This is the meat of your presentation. This is why you spoke with family members and co-workers of the deceased so you could create a custom and personal tribute. Using stories, you’ll illustrate your message to underscore your point while sharing and hopefully creating a lasting memory for others.
There are so many ways to pay tribute to a man like Harrison. Which itself is testament to the kind of person he was. I think what stood out most to me about Harrison was his loyalty. Actually, to call it loyalty is too simple. To Harrison there was a code, a value system. He was friendly and kind to everyone but he reserved a special bond or affiliation for those he was especially close to. We’re all like this in some respects. We have our extended and immediate families and our friends and our best friends. But for Harry, and we didn’t call him that often, it was moreso.
I mentioned that Harrison and I met in college. We had some classes and participated in some study groups together. It was more mutual respect than friendship at first. For big exams we’d split the chapters with him doing detailed study for half and me the other half then we’d teach each other the materials. One time there was this stats class and boy was I struggling. Harrison knew the material, but had not yet mastered all of it and I was holding him back. I wasn’t carrying my weight in our little study arrangement. He doubled down, reviewed all the material and then reviewed all of the content with me through a series of late night cram sessions. He made an A and I didn’t fail.
Years later. After college. Harrison’s father had passed years before and his mother was recovering from a recent surgery. Our families had plans to attend a football game together on Saturday and in the week leading up to it all, his mother’s neighbor passed away. This neighbor was very close to his mother and she was heartbroken that she would not be able to attend. The funeral was scheduled for Saturday morning and seemingly something would have to give. But I mentioned that Harrison a code and he wouldn’t bow out so easily. After working late on Friday, Harry often worked late and was dedicated to his job and clients… many former coworkers and clients are in attendance today… after working on Friday Harrison made the six hour drive to attend the funeral that Saturday morning. You see, there had to be a Mitchell in attendance. Harrison himself wasn’t particularly close to the neighbor, but his mother, who could not attend was, so to honor his mother and her neighbor there had to be a Mitchell in the congregation. That’s the kind of man Harrison was. By the way, Harrison made it to the football game at half time, his wife and kids already there, after driving up immediately following the services. Two commitments kept, so what was a little extra drive time with little sleep?
Tip: Keep the stories brief. Use details to make them authentic but not so many that they are difficult to follow. I demonstrated two stories but you may want to use three or four depending on the time you’ve been allotted. Let the stories build upon one another and try to cover multiple aspects of the decedent’s life. I started with youth/college and then covered a time in his adulthood. An example from his work life and another from his more recent years would help round out the imagery. Make sure the stories are not about you. I flirted with this line and would purposely choose stories in which I had no role to complete the set.
Provide comfort and offer uplifting thoughts
After telling a couple stories, perhaps even drawing a laugh, it’s time to transition back to the purpose of the day’s service.
(Pause)… The Lord instructs us in Proverbs;
“Trust in Him (the Lord) with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
That’s sound advice; especially appropriate at a time like this; a time when we are overwhelmed with our emotions. Feelings of loss, denial, anger, grief, and remorse are common and natural. But they can leave us feeling tossed about, like a boat on rough waters.
Experience those emotions but anchor your trust in the Lord.
Harrison was a man of great faith, as those who knew him can attest, and there’s room even on a day like this… especially on a day like this for that to bring us a measure of comfort.
We’ve shared stories of Harrison’s loyalty and commitment to others today. Undoubtedly we could spend hours recounting fond memories, and we should, laughing and crying and celebrating the joy we shared in his company. But let us each in our own way ponder our own readiness for this inevitability in the way we trust Harrison was ready.
Tip: The transition into this phase doesn’t need to be complicated. I simply inserted a pause, and then restarted with a Bible verse. Your audience will follow the transition without it requiring an explanation.
In this phase there may be pressure to say something especially meaningful or poignant, and while that’s a fair objective, don’t be afraid to err on the side of a simple expression of a heart felt thought. Simple and meaningful are far more elegant than a complicated idea that may not come off correctly.
Our faith is a standard go-to move here as I demonstrated. Personally, because of my religious beliefs, I’d rather err on too bold an expression than not enough or too small. Allow your personal compass to guide you and always consider the wishes of the family and the decedent. I used a scripture, but there are hundreds of poems or quotes that may be used to set the tone without coming across as a Bible thumper.
Here we’re wrapping up our speech. Depending upon the prior section, this portion may be short.
In closing, I’d like to share another simple and profound passage from the book of Proverbs;
“The memory of a good person is a blessing.”
I think about this passage and I look at everyone in attendance and I know – I know – I’m looking out at a room full of wonderfully blessed people. I know this because I believe God keeps his promises and I know, lying here before us is a Good Man. A model for us all.
In our hearts and thoughts and prayers Harrison will remain and we’ll be blessed for it.
Thank you all.
Harrison, my very dear friend, goodbye.
Tip: Plan for this portion to be short and be sure to invest extra prep time refining and rehearsing the close. You may get away with adlibbing one of your stories but trying to adlib a close can lead to an awkward rambling mess. Having a punctual close that is not well rehearsed can lead to an outbreak of emotions. That’s not all bad, but you should try to hold it together through the eulogy and your preparation can go a long way to allowing you to achieve this objective.
I do sincerely hope this eulogy template and example will assist your eulogy writing needs. For additional Eulogy writing tips and templates please see the following: