Helpful Tips for Writing a Eulogy
Write down the following information in a neat and orderly fashion
- Gather the person’s significant personal history, birth date and place, family members, career, notable achievements, schools attended, hobbies, volunteer work, or other roles the person took on in the family or community, etc. then write a time line going from birth through to death.
- Gather favorite memories from family and friends.
- Ask loved ones what characteristics come to mind when they think of the deceased?
- Review all those notes and look for some common thoughts or themes.
Organize the Material
- Organize the material on separate sheets of paper or index cards. Start out with the deceased’s birth and continue with their historical information.
- Move through the stages of life-tell a story or two that captures or illustrates the person’s spirit that you have picked out from your notes.
- It is okay to include tasteful humor in a eulogy, especially if the person used humor in their own lives.
- There should be 3 parts to the eulogy - a beginning, middle, and end. You may also want to add a fourth part, either beginning or ending with a quote or poem relating to the deceased.
- Beginning - Start with a brief overview that captures the person’s spirit or persona: i.e., a loving mother, a family man, an esteemed scholar, a religious person.
- Middle - The middle may contain several paragraphs about the deceased’s life. Tell a story or two that illustrates the person’s spirit, what either drove them or brought them pleasure in life.
- End - Restate the key points about the deceased’s life, summarizing their spirit or persona, and emphasizing what they meant to others.
Create a good ending
- Finally, know how you are going to end. Many times people have no idea how they are going to end, and the speech becomes rambling. Write an ending and stick to it. Summarize the key theme from your notes. One idea may be to end with a quote or poem (we have a large selection you can look through for free). You also may end with a simple sentence of good bye to the person- "We will miss you" or "Rest in peace." Whatever you think is best.
- Do not bring up negative feelings or family arguments during the eulogy.
- Do not tell embarrassing stories about the deceased. Act as if they are in the audience. People will remember your poor manners in telling the inappropriate stories more than the deceased’s part in the story.
- Once you have your eulogy pulled together, make sure it is in writing in case you become too emotional and need someone else to finish it for you or to keep you on track. Bring those notes with you to the lectern.
- Practice the speech in front of a mirror, friend, or family member. Other options are to read it into your voicemail or other recording device and play it back to see how it sounds.
- The eulogy should last 3-10 minutes, usually not shorter or longer than that.
- Take a deep breath and release it slowly before you begin.
For additional information please see the Eulogy Form.