How to write a eulogy
This step-by-step guide will explain how to write a eulogy to pay tribute to the deceased at a funeral.
These simple steps will help you write and deliver a eulogy:
- What is a eulogy?
- Why is it customary to have a funeral speech?
- Who gives the eulogy at a funeral?
- How to structure a eulogy
- How long should a eulogy be?
- When is the eulogy read at a funeral?
- Can a eulogy be funny?
- Funeral speech examples
- How to deliver a eulogy
A eulogy, or funeral speech, is a speech given at a funeral to commemorate someone’s life. It’s an important way of saying goodbye and can often provide comfort to those who are grieving. Eulogies help remind everyone of favourite memories and the legacy of their loved one.
Eulogies and speeches at funerals are intended to sum up the person’s life, achievements and personality. A eulogy is often the most personal part of the funeral, giving a unique insight into the person and celebrating their life and memory.
The eulogy is often seen as one of the most important parts of the funeral service, though there is no right or wrong when choosing who should deliver it.
Family closest to the person who has passed will ultimately have the final say in who delivers the funeral speeches. The eulogy itself is typically given by a close family member, friend or a minister. There’s no reason why two people cannot deliver the eulogy, or in some cases, it may be more appropriate to open the eulogies to all attendees. This may help celebrate their life and ensure everyone gets a chance to tell their most memorable memories – if time allows. Speaking at a funeral can be hard, so make sure you have someone lined up to step in if needed.
The following questions should help you to think about how to write a eulogy:
- What words would you use to describe them?
- What is your favourite memory of them?
- What impact did they have on your life?
- Are there any funny stories that come to mind?
- What were their likes and dislikes?
- What are the highlights of their life story?
- How would they like to be remembered?
- If you were able to tell them one last thing, what would it be?
When thinking about how to start a eulogy, it can be best to plan the structure first. Many people choose to write a eulogy in chronological order with a small personal note at the end. There’s also the option of dividing it into different sections, beginning with their childhood and working through memorable moments of their life or even writing it as a letter to them.
There is no set length for a eulogy. However, it is important to keep in mind that some funeral venues will only allocate a specific amount of time for a funeral service.
If you’re unsure or worried about timings, please speak to your local Funeral Director about the order of the service.
The eulogy is typically delivered during the funeral service. Your funeral director or the person leading the service will help you create the order of service, so it will be completely up to you when you would like the eulogy to be given.
When it comes to writing a eulogy, it is important to reflect the personality of the person who has passed. Humorous funeral speeches or light-hearted eulogies are not uncommon. Think about what tone will be most suitable and the preferences of your loved one and the audience when planning how to write the eulogy.
If you’re unsure how to start writing a eulogy, it can be useful to have a look at eulogy speech examples for inspiration.
Famous eulogies include Princess Diana, which focussed on the loss of the nation: Rosa Park which focussed on her achievements; and George Harrison, which was an example of using humour in an obituary.
Amongst the most well known is also the funeral for Gareth in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, which shows how poetry - in this case, W.H. Auden’s Funeral Blues - can be incorporated into a funeral speech.
- Practice makes perfect. Speaking at a funeral can be difficult. Make sure you practice reading your eulogy out loud before the funeral, speaking clearly and slowly. Familiarising yourself with the words will help you understand how long it will take and where to pause if necessary.
- Try not to fidget when delivering your eulogy as it may distract you from what you are saying.
- It’s also important to make eye contact with the audience, so the words become more personal for family and close friends.
Don’t worry if you change your mind about delivering the eulogy, it’s normal to ask someone else to deliver it on your behalf.
If you're still unsure about how to write a eulogy, we can help. Should you require any assistance, our caring funeral professionals will be able to help craft a memorable speech to help you commemorate you loved one in the best way possible.