How to Write a Eulogy
Writing a eulogy to pay tribute to a loved one or friend is one of the highest honors you can receive. You’re entrusted to memory and celebrate the person’s life in your own words. Giving a eulogy is often the most difficult part because you think you can keep your emotions in check long enough to deliver the beautiful, moving speech.
However, emotions can start rising before you reach the podium. The eulogy is your opportunity to share fond memories and details the person that the audience may or may not be aware of. In fact, these memories should comfort the individuals in attendance as they go through their grief. No pressure, right? When trying to figure out how to write a eulogy, you may feel confused, frustrated and at a loss. Need tips? Check out Eulogies Made Easy.
What a Eulogy Should Contain
Before giving the awe-inspiring, loving speech you need to know what a basic eulogy contains. You need your favorite memories of the deceased. These memories shouldn’t be inappropriate or mean. However, they should give the audience a sense of who the person was. Also:
• Provide details about the person’s work, career, friends, family, interests and achievements
• Include his or her favorite poems, religious writings, songs or quotes
You may want to look at eulogy examples. A eulogy example can give you some insight to what you want to say. You can find examples of eulogies anywhere.
How to Write a Eulogy
1. Think about Memories
Take time to recall memories of the individual. Include memories you have about your relationship. For instance, details like where you met. If it is a family member talk about your earliest memories. The memories can be humorous, touching or what you miss the most about the person.
2. Talk with Family and Friends
This is not just your moment to celebrate your loved one, but other people’s moment too. Take time to talk with close friends and family members to gather vital information about the deceased. Talking with people also gives you some information you may not know or need to verify like date of birth, special interest, accomplishments, education.
3. Reflect on Your Notes
Reflection is vital to writing a eulogy. To reflect, organize your notes. Use a notepad or computer to outline your speech and select the memories or stores you want to share. Pick out the information in chronological order (biographical information, etc.).
4. Decide on the Eulogy’s Tone
Like any speech, you have to decide the tone or attitude of the speech. For instance, you have a lighthearted, somber or uplifting eulogy. There are some things to consider when selecting a tone:
Think about the person’s loved ones and friends. You don’t want to insult them or hurt their feelings. Warning: if the person wasn’t well liked, stay away from the negative. Dwell on positive memories while staying honest. Don’t make up things to make him or her look good. If you feel the need to mention the negative, do it in a gentle manner.
• The Deceased
Consider what your family member or loved one may have wanted you to convey in his or her eulogy. Was he or she someone who liked being celebrated in a humorous or serious way? For example you may write a eulogy for father different than one for a friend.
5. Write the Eulogy
When writing the eulogy, do it in your own voice. Don’t try to follow someone else’s writing style. It only causes writer’s block and frustration. Besides, you’ll become bogged down in the formalities and not truly convey your thoughts or memories. Don’t worry if you’re not the best writer. Write in the same way you’d normally talk. The audience wants to feel like you’re talking to them, not reading. Remember: you’ve been picked because your loved one or the family felt you could do the eulogy justice.
• Brainstorm and outline
You should have an outline from reflecting on your notes. If you don’t, it’s fine. Brainstorm all the things you want to talk about like biographical information, personality traits and interests. Keep things in chronological order. For instance, don’t talk about when the person was born in the middle of the eulogy.
• Write from the Heart
In your first draft, you want to just write. Use the emotions you feel, whether it is grief or sadness, as a way to help you write. The key with a first draft is not become bogged down in the technical writing.
• Avoid just listing qualities. Yes, talk about the person’s qualities. However, you want to show the person’s qualities via a story or antidote. Imagine there’s someone in the audience who doesn’t know your loved one. You want to show those qualities in a way that the stranger would get an understanding of who the deceased was.
• Your eulogy needs a beginning, middle and end.
• Keep thoughts concise. Don’t ramble.
• Use general, not sterling vocabulary
• Keep details in logical order
• Remember to write like you’re speaking with people, not talking down to them
• Keep a conversational tone. Regardless of which tone you use (humorous, serious or other) ditch the formal speech.
6. Complete Final Copy
After your first draft, read through it then put it away for a couple hours. This is your first draft, not the last. Thus, you need to decide to whether you want to keep or ditch it. Read it out loud and correct any grammatical mistakes. If you need help deciding to keep or rewrite the first draft, ask a family member or friend to read it. Use his or her feedback to aid in your decision.
If you decide to rewrite, look through the first draft and pick out things you want to keep. Next, start the writing process all over again. You may write more than one version of the eulogy before your final copy.
If you decide to keep the first draft, remember to correct any grammatical problems. Add anything that’s missing like a story to help you convey one of the person’s qualities. Put the eulogy away for at least one night. Review the eulogy again. Make any necessary revisions.
It’s your choice to write the eulogy by hand or type it on a computer. However, it may be useful to type up a copy and keep it for reference. Sometimes you think your handwritten final draft is easy to read. Nevertheless, when you’re at the podium with an audience your handwriting may look unreadable. Print your eulogy in large text. This makes it easy to read and refer back to. Also, insert page numbers on each page so you don’t get confused while you’re speaking.
Writing a funeral speech doesn’t have to cause such negative feelings. In fact, you should use the time to reflect and work through your grief as you write. Remember to collect your thoughts. Once it’s written, practice the eulogy in front of someone or a mirror. Practicing the eulogy elevates some of the strain and stress of delivering the speech in front of an audience. Learning how to write a eulogy allows you to give a well-crafted speech which fulfills your goal of commemorating your deceased loved one or friend.