What does "Eulogy" mean?
The word “eulogy” is often associated with loss, sadness, and grief. Derived from the Greek word eulogia, which means “to praise,” a eulogy is a speech of tribute given in honor or memory of someone who has passed away. While it is commonly used to pay last respects to a loved one, a eulogy can also be given in celebration of a life that has been lived. From honoring a beloved family member, to celebrating the accomplishments of a colleague, the eulogy serves as a way to express sorrow, love, and admiration for those who have touched our lives.
Definition of eulogy
A eulogy is a speech of tribute given in honor or memory of someone who has passed away. It is commonly used to pay last respects to a loved one, though a eulogy can also be given in celebration of a life that has been lived. A eulogy can be delivered in many ways: as a speech, a poem, or even as a song. A eulogy can also be written as a letter, a journal entry, or by publishing an obituary. There are no rules for writing a eulogy, though it is generally expected that a eulogy is a positive reflection on the person’s life.
History of eulogy
The word “eulogy” is derived from the Greek word eulogia, which means “to praise.” In ancient Greece, it was customary for the fallen warriors to be eulogized by their comrades. The praise was then inscribed on their tombstones, and this practice eventually became known as eulogizing. Eulogies were also found in many cultures, including the Chinese, Latin, and Jewish cultures. In fact, eulogizing is a Jewish custom that dates back as far as the 14th century. During Jewish mourning periods, it was customary to deliver eulogies to both console the living, as well as to honor the deceased. The eulogizing custom found its way into Christian culture and became a traditional part of the Christian mourning process.
Purpose of a eulogy
A eulogy is a speech of tribute given in honor or memory of someone who has passed away. The eulogy serves as a way to express sorrow, love, and admiration for those who have touched our lives. In modern times, eulogies are typically delivered at funerals, though they don’t have to be. Eulogies can also be given as a journal entry or in a letter form to celebrate a person’s life. Eulogies are meant to be a genuine reflection of the person’s life, and as such, can be written in many ways, including a poem or song. Eulogies are also meant to be positive and inspiring words of remembrance. They are not meant to criticize or dwell on regrets, though they are an opportunity to acknowledge the challenges and triumphs of the person’s life.
Structure of a eulogy
A eulogy has no specific structure, though it may follow a pattern. A eulogy does not have to be long or elaborate. A short eulogy is often more effective as it can be delivered from the heart. A eulogy may begin with a brief introduction of the person being celebrated. You can describe his or her background, accomplishments, and any other details that may be important to share. You may focus on a specific aspect of the person’s life that you want to emphasize. You can include a statement on the person’s death and how it has affected you and others in the community. You can also include any words of advice that you have learned from the person’s life and death. You can conclude your eulogy by thanking the person for his or her life and impact on the world.
Tips for writing a eulogy
Before you begin writing a eulogy, find ways to express your emotions and thoughts. You can journal your thoughts and feelings, or, you can share your thoughts with a friend or family member who may be able to help you process your emotions. You can begin writing your eulogy by asking yourself, “Who am I writing this for?” Who will be listening to your eulogy? If you are giving a eulogy at a funeral, your audience will likely be a group of friends, family members, and loved ones. If you are eulogizing someone in a more private setting, you can write a eulogy that is just for the person being honored.
Examples of outstanding eulogies
- John F. Kennedy's Eulogy for his Brother Robert
- Ted Kennedy's Eulogy for his Sister-in-Law, Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
- Martin Luther King Jr's Eulogy for Reverend Philip Randolph
- Abraham Lincoln's Eulogy for his 11-year-old Son, Willie
- Maya Angelou's Eulogy for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
- eulogy for John McCain
It should be noted that most of these 'famous' eulogies were undoubtedly written by professional speech or eulogy writers, except for those given by writers, themselves, like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Maya Angelou.
Benefits of delivering a eulogy
- Honors the life of the person being celebrated - By delivering a eulogy, you are sharing your genuine thoughts and feelings about the person. You can use the eulogy as an opportunity to reflect on the good qualities of the person and how he or she has impacted your life.
- Provides closure for loved ones - When you speak from the heart, your words can provide closure for the friends and family members of the person who has passed away.
- Provides support for grieving loved ones - By sharing how the death of the person has affected you, you can offer support to those who are grieving.
- Soothes anxiety and fear - The eulogy may be a very difficult thing to do, but it can also be an extremely calming experience. By sharing your thoughts and feelings about the person who has passed away, you may be able to find peace and comfort in your own words.
- Provides inspiration to other people - Your eulogy can be a source of inspiration to others. Your words may be just the motivation that someone else needs to find strength and courage in their own lives.
Alternatives to eulogies
- Tributes - Tributes are often delivered at special events, such as birthday parties, weddings, sporting events, or graduation ceremonies. A tribute is a short speech, poem, or musical performance that is meant to honor the person being celebrated. While a eulogy is generally expected to be a positive reflection on the life of the person, a tribute can also be used to acknowledge a negative event or to criticize someone.
- Letters - You can write a letter to the person being celebrated, expressing your thoughts and feelings about the person. You can keep the letter private and only share it with the person if you wish. Letters have been used as a way to eulogize for centuries.
- Determine the purpose of the eulogy - Before deciding to deliver a eulogy, you need to ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish?” Think about the person whose life will be celebrated and how his or her death has affected the community. What do you want to say about this person? What do you want others to take away from the eulogy?
- Consider your audience - You want to make sure that your eulogy is relevant to the audience. The eulogy should encourage the audience to reflect on the person’s life and to find inspiration in his or her achievements.
- Know when to deliver the eulogy - A eulogy is generally delivered at the end of a funeral service. While some people may wish to deliver the eulogy at the beginning of the ceremony, it is important to wait until the end so that the focus of the event remains on the person who has passed away.
How to find support after delivering a eulogy
After you’ve delivered a eulogy, you may be left feeling emotional and drained. You may be wondering how you can recover from an experience like this. Fortunately, there are ways that you can find support after delivering a eulogy. You can talk to a friend or family member about how you’re feeling. You can also find support in online communities.
If/When You Need a Eulogy
Writing a eulogy for a loved one can be a daunting task, but it is also an important way to honor their memory. If you are struggling to find the right words to express your feelings, a eulogy writer can help. These professionals are experienced in creating meaningful tributes that capture the essence of a person's life. They can guide you through the process of creating a eulogy, helping you to focus on the positive aspects of your loved one's life as well as capturing their unique personality. A eulogy writer can also provide advice on how to make the eulogy more personal, such as incorporating anecdotes or stories that reflect your loved one's character. With their help, you can craft a meaningful eulogy that celebrates the life of the deceased in the best possible way. So if you're having difficulty writing a eulogy, don't hesitate to reach out to an experienced eulogy writer. It will be a meaningful tribute that will help to keep your loved one's memory alive. So, while we all hope to never need a eulogy writer, we want you to know that The Eulogy Writers is here for you.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and the author of hundreds of heartfelt, wonderful eulogies. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones and exploring issues in the aging process.
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The Eulogy Writers
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Writers: Steve Schafer, Ralph DiBiasio-Snyder, Abi Galeas, Miriam Hill
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