“Praise that is too much and too late” – (Anon)
A Eulogy-is essentially praise for the deceased. A speech or writing in tribute to a
person, especially a set oration in honor of a deceased person. High praise or
commendation are especially important.
The History of
How to Write a Eulogy
The thought of public speaking is a phobia many people share, and can throw
some into a panic. Add to that fear the common discomfort of discussing death,
and it's easy to understand why the idea of delivering a eulogy can be
disconcerting. If you've been asked to write a eulogy, take heart. We hope to help
you put your fears in perspective so you can deliver a loving eulogy.
You were probably asked to deliver a eulogy because of your close relationship
with the deceased, and/or their family. The family didn't ask you to make you feel
uncomfortable, or put your grief on display. It's an honor they've trusted you to do
with care. Helping others say goodbye can be very enriching. Don't worry about
making mistakes, a eulogy comes from the heart. There are no real mistakes as
long as you stay true and honest in your words.
"I can't write."
Don't let the thought of writing intimidate you. You don't have to be a professional
writer to communicate honest caring feelings, and everyone has a story to tell.
That's your job as a eulogist, tell people your story. Remember you are speaking
on behalf of the deceased.
A eulogy should convey the feelings and experiences of the person giving the
eulogy, and should be written in an informal, conversational tone. Take a deep
breathe, sit down and write from the heart. Many people that are asked to deliver a
eulogy often write about the person's attributes, memories and common times that
were shared together. Sometimes the deceased's favorite poems, book passages,
scripture verses, quotes, expressions, lines from songs or items that were written
by the deceased, are very appropriate thoughts to share. If you plan on going to
scripture for ideas, keep in mind whether the family is religious and be careful not
These questions should get you thinking:
• How did you and the deceased become close?
• Is there a humorous or touching event that represents the essence of your
• What did you and others love and admire about the deceased?
• What will you miss most about him or her?
Some of the simplest thoughts are deeply touching and easy for those congregated
to identify with. For example, "I'll miss her dimples when she smiled," or "I'll never
forget the way he snorted when he had a good belly laugh", are just as good as "I
admired her selflessness."
If you need help in preparing a eulogy, there are companies willing to help. At
www.lovingeulogies.com, you can purchase an online guide to writing eulogies or
even have their professional writer develop a custom eulogy for you.
"I can't speak in front of people."
It may not be easy, but you can do it. A funeral is one time you'll surely have a
kind and empathetic audience. They feel for you and are on your side. You'll only
have to speak for five to ten minutes, but your gift will live in the hearts of the
deceased's family and friends.
If you're worried about choking up or breaking down in the middle of your eulogy,
you can take a moment to compose yourself, then carry on. Be sure to print out
the eulogy in large print for those teary moments, and if you feel you cannot get
through the entire eulogy, make sure to have a back up reader, or give a copy to
• Be honest and focus on the person's positive qualities,and how they touched your
life. Speak truthfully, but not brutally as not to offend.
• Keep it brief. Five to ten minutes is the norm, but it's a good idea to verify with
- Perhaps an anecdote about the deceased that shares a special moment you
- Humor is acceptable if it fits the personality of the deceased.
- If you are inclined to be a perfectionist, this is one place to put that on hold;
just do what you can given the short time-frame and your emotional state,
• Put the eulogy on paper - at least in outline form, in large print, double spaced.
(just in case, you tear up, or your hands start to shake)
- Speak slowly, clearly, and be sure to adjust your volume to be heard by all.
- Try to find a support friend you can focus on for a smile of comfort while
you are speaking. This may help you from breaking down.
- Remember this is an emotional time for you also, especially if the deceased
was close. Every person who hears you will appreciate your remembrances.
- Also keep in mind that you are celebrating a life as well as mourning a loss.
Books Offering Help, Examples and Inspiration
• "A Labor of Love: How to Write a Eulogy" by Garry Schaeffer
• "The Book of Eulogies: A Collection of Memorial Tributes, Poetry, Essays, and
Letters of Condolence" by Phyllis Theroux (editor)
• "How to Write and Deliver a Loving Eulogy" by Leo Seguin
• "Final Celebrations: A Guide for Personal and Family Funeral Planning" by
Kathleen Sublette and Martin Flagg
• "In Memoriam: A Practical Guide to Planning a Memorial Service" by Amanda
Bennett and Terence B. Foley
• "My Deepest Sympathies: Meaningful Sentiments for Condolence Notes and
Conversations, Plus a Guide to Eulogies" by Florence Isaacs
• "Remembering Well: Rituals for Celebrating Life and Mourning Death" by Sarah
• "Readings for Remembrance: A Collection for Funerals and Memorial Services"
by Eleanor C. Munro (introduction)
• "Remembrances and Celebrations: A Book of Eulogies, Elegies, Letters, and
Epitaphs" by Jill Werman Harris (editor)
If you're planning the funeral, you might want to consider "sharing thoughts" as an
alternative to a eulogy. In doing this option, the people gathered may walk to the
front, pass a microphone or take turns standing up to share their thoughts, or
special memories of the decedent. These special individual thoughts and memories
can be very touching and spontaneous. Think of it as a bunch a little eulogies,
which can help the collective group gathered with their own feelings of grief.
However, if you have been asked by the family to deliver a personal eulogy, we
have the information you may need to write and deliver an effective, loving
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