How To Write And Deliver A Eulogy Step 1 of 6 - Funeral Speech - A Moment For Yourself Tutorial
How to Write a Eulogy
A eulogy is a speech given at a memorial service in memory of the deceased. You don't have to be a great writer or orator to deliver a heartfelt and meaningful eulogy that captures the essence of the deceased. The best eulogies are brief while being specific, as well as thoughtful and not without the occasional touch of humor. If you want to know how to write a eulogy in spite of being in grief, just follow these steps.
Writing a Eulogy
Decide on the tone.How serious or lighthearted do you want the eulogy to be? A good eulogy does not need to be uniformly somber, just appropriate. Some eulogy-writers take a serious approach, others are bold enough to add humor. Used cautiously, humor can help convey the personality of the deceased and illustrate some of his or her endearing qualities.
- The tone can also be partially determined by the way the deceased passed away. If you're giving a eulogy about a teenager who met an untimely death, then your tone would be more serious than it would if you were giving a eulogy about a grandparent who happily lived to see his ninetieth birthday.
Consider the audience.Write the eulogy with the deceased's family and loved ones in mind. Dwell on the positive, but be honest. If the person was difficult or inordinately negative, avoid talking about that or allude to it gently, as in "He had his demons, which were a constant battle." Make sure you don't say anything that would offend, shock, or confuse the audience.
- For example, don't make any jokes or comments about the deceased that would be a mystery to the majority of the crowd.
Briefly introduce yourself.Even if most people in the audience know you, just state your name and give a few words that describe your relationship to the deceased. If it's a really small crowd, you can start with, "For anybody who doesn't know me..." or something that shows that while most people do know you, it's still important to introduce yourself. If you're related to the deceased, describe how; if not, say a few words about how and when you met.
State the basic information about the deceased.Though your eulogy doesn't have to read like an obituary or give all of the basic information about the life of the deceased, you should touch on a few key points, such as what his family life was like, what his career achievements were, and what hobbies and interests mattered the most to him. You can find a way of mentioning this information while praising or remembering the deceased.
- Write down the names of the family members especially closed to the deceased. You may forget their names on the big day because you're overwhelmed by sadness, so it's advisable to have them on hand.
- Make sure you say something specific about the family life of the deceased -- this would be very important to his family.
Use specific examples to describe the deceased.Avoid reciting a list of qualities that the person possesses. Instead, mention a quality and then illustrate it with a story. It is the stories that bring the person--and that quality--to life. Talk to as many people as you can to get their impressions, memories, and thoughts about the deceased, and then write down as many memories of your own as you can. Look for a common theme that unites your ideas, and try to illustrate this theme through specific examples.
- If the deceased is remembered for being kind, talk about the time he helped a homeless man get back on his feet.
- If the deceased is known for being a prankster, mention his famous April Fool's prank.
- Pretend that a stranger is listening to your eulogy. Would he get a good sense of the person you're describing without ever meeting him just from your words?
Be concise and well-organized.Outline the eulogy before you start writing. Brainstorm all the possible areas (personality traits, interests, biographical info) to talk about and write them down. When you're ready to write, cover each area in a logical order. Give the eulogy a beginning, middle, and end. Avoid rambling or, conversely, speaking down to people. You may have a sterling vocabulary, but dumb it down for the masses just this once.
- The average eulogy is about 3-5 minutes long. That should be enough for you to give a meaningful speech about the deceased. Remember that less is more; you don't want to try the patience of the audience during such a sad occasion.
Get feedback.Once you're written the eulogy and feel fairly confident in what you've written, have some close friends or family members who know the deceased well read it to make sure that it's not only accurate, but that it does well with capturing the essence of the deceased. They'll also be able to see if you've said anything inappropriate, forgotten something important, or wrote anything that was confusing or difficult to understand.
- You can also ask your friends or family members to edit your eulogy. Though it doesn't need to have perfect grammar since no one else will be reading it, your friends or family members can help you add smoother transitions or remove repetitive phrasing.
Giving a Eulogy
Rehearse the eulogy before the big day.Read the draft of your eulogy aloud. If you have time and the inclination, read it to someone as practice. Words sound differently when read aloud than on paper. If you have inserted humor, get feedback from someone about its appropriateness and effectiveness. Remember, writing is 90% rewriting, so expect to revise your work several times before it shines.
- Rehearsing the eulogy will also help you learn to control your emotions and not get choked up over the speech.
- Try memorizing as much of the speech as you can, or even just reading from notes. Though you should have something to fall back on if you forgot what you were going to say, your words will sound more heartfelt if you're not reading every sentence right off the page.
Have a standby.Though you should hope that you're emotionally prepared to give the speech on the big day, you should have a close friend or family member who has read the eulogy be prepared to read it for you in case you're too choked up to read it. Though you probably won't need one, you'll feel more relaxed just knowing that you have a backup if you need one.
Relax.Before you speak, calm yourself by realizing everyone in attendance is there to support you. It may help to have a glass of water with you on the podium to help you maintain your composure. Just know that everyone will appreciate your efforts and admire you for having written and given a eulogy. You can't fail.
- Tell yourself you're not there to win a speech-giving contest or to impress anyone. You're there to convey your heartfelt feelings about the deceased and that's it.
QuestionIf they killed themselves, what would be a good eulogy?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou don't have to do anything differently for the eulogy of a person who died by suicide. Simply talk about the person, their life, their legacy, etc. as you ordinarily would. Do not mention the suicide. You might want to conclude with something like "He/she is at peace now."Thanks!
QuestionDo I have to greet the audience before I start to read my eulogy?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGreeting the audience is appropriate. You should also include an introduction of yourself and a description of your relationship to the deceased. This helps the audience connect with you.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I end a eulogy?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEnding on a positive, but not too cheerful tone is a good idea. If the service is religious, mention that the deceased is in heaven, perhaps with other relatives they have lost. If it is a more secular service, simply end on a positive or pleasant memory of the deceased.Thanks!
QuestionHow long does a eulogy have to be?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo specific length, though you should keep people's attention span and the overall time frame of the service in mind if you tend to go long.Thanks!
QuestionHow should I greet the audience when giving a eulogy?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should introduce yourself and state your relationship to the person who died. Then you can go into what you want to say.Thanks!
QuestionShould I mention people in attendance?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, there's no need for that, unless you want to name the family members of the person or something like that, as in Step 4.Thanks!
QuestionIs it appropriate to bring up other family members who have passed?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, this is appropriate, as long long as it was someone they were close to. For example, "She joins her beloved husband and her dear sister in heaven," etc.Thanks!
QuestionCan a eulogy also talk about the person's impact on me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, it would be nice to include a few details to that effect, but don't go on and on. The eulogy should be about the deceased, not you.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I write a eulogy for someone if they didn't do anything in life?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou don't have to do certain things to be a good person. Talk about their personality, things you (and/or some people) wish they could have said before they passed, etc.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I write a eulogy for someone that died a long time ago, and I only know about him/her from history books?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDo as much research as possible into the person's life and personality. If the person left behind any journals or letters, these could be really helpful. Then when you're writing the eulogy, write about the person's best qualities and the most important events of their lives.Thanks!
To write a eulogy, consider the audience and try to focus on the positive aspects of the person’s life while remaining honest. At the beginning of the eulogy, introduce yourself and talk about how you knew the deceased. Continue on to talk about their life, including their family members, where they lived and grew up, what their career achievements were, and what hobbies and interests they were passionate about. Try to include specific examples of the qualities that they possessed by telling stories. When the eulogy is written, be sure to practice before the big day.
- The best eulogies are factual, honest, and respectful. Talk about the deceased and what he or she did in their lifetime. If they died young show that you express regret about that.
- Write and speak in your own voice. If you wish, augment your eulogy by reading a poem.
- Don't use humor that is either inappropriate or being used just for the laugh. Make it relevant and tasteful. If in doubt, leave it out.
- Don't think that a eulogy has to be a biography of the deceased. On the contrary, you shouldn't sum up his/her entire life. Instead, tell your story--that is, your relationship with the deceased and how he/she affected your life.
Video: How to Write a Eulogy
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