How to write a eulogy

A eulogy is a speech given at a memorial service in memory of the deceased. And while it’s a beautiful task, it can be the root of such stressful questions as “Am I going to upset anyone?”, “What if people don’t respond?”, “How can I live up to expectations?”

You don’t need to be a great writer or orator to write and deliver a great eulogy – the best eulogies are brief, heart-felt stories of the loved-one. And yes, they’re usually full of humour.

Here’s our five-step guide to writing a eulogy that will hit the right tone and help create a lasting (positive) memory…

  1. Decide on your tone. How serious or lighthearted do you want the eulogy to be? A good eulogy doesn’t need to be sombre – just appropriate. Some eulogy-writers take a serious approach, others like to add humour to illustrate endearing qualities or remember shared moments. Do what you feel will be most appropriate to the memory of the person you’re commemorating.

  2. Consider the people around you. 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 it or allude to it gently (if you have to allude to it all). Your words will be something many people will remember – it’s up to you to shape that memory in a way that will allow them to look back on it with a smile…

  3. Keep it to the point and and well-organised. Outline the eulogy before you start writing – think about the personality traits, interests, experiences of the person you’re writing about and the moments they shared with you. When you’re ready to write, cover each area in a logical order, giving the eulogy a beginning, middle, and end.

  4. Practice Makes Perfect. Read the draft of your eulogy aloud or better yet, to someone who knew the deceased – you’d be amazed at how different words can sound when read out loud!

  5. Use a warm tone. ‘Talk’ your eulogy as if you are talking to friends, rather than doing a straight read-through. Make eye contact. Pause. Go slowly if you want. Connect with your audience and share the moment with them; it’s a moment that will last each of your lifetimes…

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