Writing a eulogy is never an easy task. That’s why we created TheEulogyWriters.com. The time frame for writing is terribly brief – usually as little as two or three days. That time is probably better used hosting out-of-town family members or spending time with others who grieve as you do. Nevertheless, many people decide they’d like to try to write a eulogy for their loved one themselves. That’s admirable and thus the following guide as to how to write the best eulogy or funeral speech possible. Please know that we are always here to help you even at the last minute if you find you need us.
Start With the Basics: What IS a eulogy?
A eulogy is NOT an obituary. An obituary is almost like a resume of a person’s life. It lists accomplishments, family members, parents and children’s names and the details of the funeral or memorial service. It is the piece of writing that is usually found in the newspaper, placed there by the funeral home or the family. It is paid for by the word so it is necessarily brief.
A eulogy is the STORY of a person’s life often told (or printed in a handout) of your loved one’s life. It tells of where he or she came from, what they most enjoyed, perhaps what their aspirations in life were, how the related to family and friends and co-workers. It is often a picture of the person’s life from the viewpoint of the one ‘giving’ the eulogy – usually a family member or close friend. It is not uncommon for more than one family member to want to ‘say something’ about the deceased. If this is the case, and it is known ahead of time, it is usually wise to compare notes so that the same stories aren’t repeated.
GATHER INFORMATION FOR YOUR MEMORIAL TRIBUTE
Before you start writing a eulogy, gathering information about your loved one is important. WRITE THINGS DOWN. Having done the work of collecting memories before you begin the actual writing of the eulogy will make your task immensely easier.
Step 1 – Gather Your Memories
What words would you use to describe your loved one?
What memories of your relationship with him or her stand out?
How do you think he or she impacted the lives of the people they knew?
What kinds of things did he or she like to do?
What kind of relationships existed within the family?
What ‘quirks’ did he or she have? Was there some phrase that he or she often used?
What values or qualities of life do you think he or she would most want passed on to future generations?
At TheEulogyWriters.com website we have an extensive list of questions we ask our clients to answer. You might want to take a look at those to give you some guidance as you gather information about your loved one.
It might be helpful, especially if you are giving the only eulogy at the funeral service, to talk with family members to see what things they think ought to be included.
Step 2 – Tailor Your Eulogy Writing Ideas
Most great eulogies reflect the personality of the person being eulogized. If the person was quirky and funny, there ought to be some humorous things in the eulogy. A humorous eulogy is not inappropriate if it fits the person. If your loved one was more serious, the eulogy probably should not contain too many humorous stories.
Step 3 – Find a Starting Point and Look to Your Notes
Look over the notes you made in step 1 and find the most interesting thing you wrote about your loved one. That is the place to start. A eulogy almost never begins with birth and ends with death. It is the telling of a story in a non-linear way that makes it interesting. Start telling of that trait or tell that story and allow the rest to flow from there. The skilled writer will tell a story and have some element of it segue into the next. If you will take your notes and put an ‘order,’ this will be much easier to do.
Writing the Eulogy
The #1 rule in writing any speech is to keep it in your own words. It may be tempting to use formal words for your memorial tribute, but that inevitably comes across as phony. Write as you speak – causally, informally, conversationally. After you write each section, pause and read it aloud. If a friend or spouse is around, read it to them, asking if it is too formal or stilted.
The Eulogy Introduction
If you are the only eulogy presenter, the eulogy ought to start with words of appreciation for those who have come, for those who have sent cards or paid visits or called. People take personal time to be with you at the funeral service – sometimes they didn’t even know your loved one. They are there for you or for someone in your family. Be sure to thank them.
After words of appreciation, begin with that item you noted above from your notes that struck you as best depicting the life of the one you’ve lost. In it, talk about who you are in relation to the deceased and set the tone for the rest of the tribute speech.
The Eulogy Body
A eulogy should be about a thousand words long. That will take six or seven minutes to read. That is about the right length. Longer and it will become tedious and people will want you to finish. Shorter and you may not fully memorialize your loved one.
As you write the body of the eulogy, paint word pictures of things rather than just tell of things that happened. For example:
Eulogy for a Grandmother - - Grandma was famous for her apple pie. When you entered her kitchen on a Saturday afternoon, you always knew she had made a pie. The smell filled the house and your mouth immediately began to water…
Eulogy for a Mother - - Mom was the kind of woman who put up with no nonsense. I remember once when we were kids and we got into her closet. We were playing dress –up and when mom came in and saw all of her beautiful clothes all over the floor…
Eulogy for a Sibling - - My brother, John, was the best brother a girl could have. He was the kind of guy who would always answer the door when a date arrived to pick me up. He was big and he always used that intimidation factor to let the boy know that….
Eulogy for a Friend - - I hope each of you have a friend like Luke. He was my childhood friend (we played cowboys and Indians together). He was my high school ‘wing man’ – always making sure I got the girl I was after…
Use of more detail makes the eulogy both easier to write and easier to listen to. You will need three of four stories. You will want to include a biographical section that tells of his or her accomplishments. You will want to acknowledge important relationships. You will want to paint a picture of a life lived well.
The Eulogy Conclusion
This final couple of sentences summarizes your loved one’s life quickly. It will be the last words anyone (other than the minister or priest) ever says publicly about him or her. The conclusion should be a final farewell… “John, we’re going to miss you. You have been our rock. You have been our moral compass and we have loved you immensely… we always will.”
Fine Tuning Your Eulogy Speech
Put your written work aside for as long as is possible. A couple of hours at least – a couple of days at best. Go back and read the eulogy aloud. You will quickly see things that need adjustment that you didn’t see while writing. Make those edits. If you have a friend or someone else who is willing to listen, read it to them and ask for their feedback (constructive criticism only, please). After your edits, you are ready to give one of the most important speeches of your life.
Memorization of the Eulogy
If you have an outstanding memory and feel you, emotionally, can memorize and present your eulogy speech, by all means, do. But most can’t or shouldn’t. The stress and grief and tensions of the funeral event is usually too much for mere mortals.
Presenting the Eulogy
Public speaking is something that most people dread more than anything else in life. The fact that you are getting up there and speaking gives you tremendous empathy from the funeral guests. THEY would never consider doing such a thing.
Speak slowly and distinctly and loudly. When we are nervous we tend to talk fast. Be intentional about the pace of your words. Let flow – not dragging nor rushing. Speak loudly even if there is a microphone. If the memorial service is outside, speak especially loud so that everyone can hear.
A Little Eulogy Writing Commercial
We can’t present your memorial speech, but we can write it and write it well and within twenty four hours. Or we can edit what you have written but don’t feel good about. Go to TheEulogyWriters.com and see if we might be just what you need at a time like this.
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Writers: Steve Schafer, Ralph DiBiasio-Snyder, Abi Galeas, Miriam Hill Steve's Personal Cell Phone: (734) 846-3072 Our email address is: Write4Me@TheEulogyWriters.com