Has someone asked you to speak at a loved one’s funeral? Are you struggling with how to write a eulogy? Afraid that your speech will not be good? Sometimes we all need help with a difficult task. In times like this, it is important to stay positive and arrange your thoughts. To help, the funeral directors here at Callaghan Mortuary & Livermore Crematory have assembled some tips.
What Is a Eulogy?
The first step to writing a good eulogy is understanding what a eulogy is. During a funeral, a family member or close friend often delivers a speech about the departed. This speech captures the essence of the individual who passed. It affords an opportunity to honor his or her life and comforts those he or she left behind. This makes the eulogy an important part of a funeral, so give yourself enough time to compose it properly.
Who Is a Eulogy For?
The next thing you should consider when writing a eulogy is who is your audience. Will funeral attendees include coworkers and acquaintances, or will it be a private event for close friends and family? Do you expect high emotions, or will the event be somber? These are important issues to think about because they will help determine the tone of your speech.
What Should Be in a Eulogy?
You must also remember that this eulogy is not only for the audience. It helps paint a picture of the individual who has passed. To properly honor them, you need to consider the person you are eulogizing. Was your loved one a light-hearted individual? Maybe telling their favorite joke would be appropriate. Did the individual pass while still young? Maybe consider talking about his or her dreams and values.
One of the best ways to illustrate who someone was is through stories. Do you have any special memories you shared with the departed? If you have many stories, write some of the best down. You can choose the most meaningful to tell during your speech.
If you need help building the important details of the eulogy, remember that you are not alone. Talk to relatives, friends and acquaintances. What they remember can help draw out your own memories. Maybe their stories will highlight something special about your loved one. Photo albums, old letters, emails or even browsing the individual’s social media may help too.
How to Write a Eulogy?
Once you have gathered the stories and memories you want to include in the eulogy, there are some last-minute considerations before you write. What is the theme of your eulogy? Are you surveying the individual’s life or are you focusing on their personality? If you have determined your audience and focused on what defined your loved one, this should come naturally.
Next, you want to determine the structure of your speech. In most cases, a three-part structure is the way to go.
- Introduce yourself – Some of the people at the funeral will know you, others may not. It is important to briefly tell others who you are and what your relationship was with the departed.
- Speak about the loved one you lost – This is the time to tell your story or stories about your loved one. Share your feelings and what you know about him or her. You can even share what others have said to you about them. Stay positive and open up.
- Close your speech – Maybe consider the final words you would like to say to the departed. You could say a significant quote or read poetry. Scripture and songs are also good options. You can even just talk about what you will miss about your loved one.
This structure will guide what you write, but it is not your only option. You can use several structures to guide your writing, just remember, stay focused and do not make it too long. Three to five minutes is a good goal, but speaking for over 10 minutes might be pushing it.
Last-Minute Tips for How to Write a Eulogy
- If you can, read what you write out loud, it will help your speech feel natural.
- Your grammar does not have to be perfect. Preserving the natural feel of your speech is more important than following the rules of writing.
- Practice saying what you write.
- You do not have to perfectly perform what you write exactly. Keep some notecards handy with important points of your speech written down.
- Do not be afraid to get feedback from friends or family.
- Contact the funeral home for any tips. Remember, funeral directors have experience with this sort of thing.
Losing a loved one is never easy, and having to speak at his or her funeral can be daunting and frightening. However, delivering a eulogy is an honor, as well as a chance to cope with your loss. In the end, it will be your decision whether you accept this important task.
Remember, you may be writing an important speech, but you are also honoring a life and legacy. Let the words come from your heart, and you will do great!