Being chosen to write a eulogy for a loved one is a great honor. It’s your final gift that you can give to the deceased. But in the midst of grieving, it can be difficult to put your thoughts into words.
A eulogy is part of a funeral or memorial service in which a person, usually a family member or friend, remembers the life lost in a short speech. The time is used to highlight significant events, triggering memories among those listening.
And while it’s natural to be a bit nervous, sharing your grief with others can provide comfort for the bereaved.
Reference these tips below when preparing a eulogy to help deliver a meaningful and memorable message.
1. Find out who else is giving a eulogy.
There’s no rule against having more than one person deliver a eulogy. Knowing who else is speaking is one of the most important ways to ensure your tribute is unique.
As you think about what you want to say, reflect on your relationship with your loved one. What you remember about him or her may differ from others, so be sure to include that in your speech.
2. Take time to gather memories.
For some, the experience of delivering a eulogy can be emotionally overwhelming. Take time to gather memories by looking through old photo albums and scrapbooks before writing anything down. By sorting through keepsakes, you can uncover what was most important to your loved one.
This is a simple way to connect with the person who has passed and spark ideas for the writing process. Once you’ve had time to reflect, pick out a few memories to focus on for the eulogy.
3. Collaborate with family and friends.
One of the most beautiful things we can do when we lose a loved one is to learn something new about that person by sharing memories with others.
As you prepare the eulogy, gather friends and family to reminisce on the good times. Having conversations will surface stories of your loved one, which can go a long way in crafting a meaningful eulogy. Incorporating responses from others will help make it more personal, allowing you to easily connect with those in attendance.
Before delivering the eulogy, have someone else read it to get their thoughts on how you’re portraying your loved one.
4. Stick to a theme.
While there are many ways to approach a eulogy, a theme will keep you focused on the direction of the story you are sharing.
If you’re unsure how you’d like to open the eulogy, consider one of the following themes to set the tone of your speech:
- Biographical Themes: A biographical theme focuses on telling the story of your loved one. Think of the speech as a timeline of the person’s life, mentioning major accomplishments and milestones in the form of a story.
- Personal Themes: A personal theme focuses on telling the story of the departed through the eyes of others. If your loved one was a jokester, you may consider incorporating humor into the eulogy. As always, take into consideration the emotions and reactions of those in attendance.
- Specialized Themes: A specialized theme focuses on specific attributes and characteristics of the deceased. What was your loved one passionate about? If they loved singing and dancing, find ways to incorporate this passion into the eulogy. This is a simple way to honor the person they were—the person you remember.
5. Keep it brief.
When putting pen to paper, keep the length of your eulogy short. Generally, a eulogy lasts anywhere between three and five minutes long.
When delivering the speech, remember to talk slowly. It’s important to convey a clear and concise message that honors your loved one.
6. Stay positive.
There’s no question that funerals and memorials are emotional, and some eulogies can even bring about feelings of sadness. If you can, put a positive spin on the speech to uplift the spirits of everyone in attendance.
Acknowledge the loss while focusing on how the loved ones values impacted those present. Positivity helps bring people together to focus on the good times, rather than the bad.
7. Conclude with your main theme.
The conclusion of the eulogy is your opportunity to make a lasting impact, so be sure to tie your closing thoughts to the overall theme. You can do this by referencing a quote, poem, song lyric or even a joke that reminds you of your loved one.
By referencing these tips, you’ll be sure to deliver a meaningful and memorable eulogy for your loved one.
Explore Grief Resources
No two people grieve the same way. At Busch, we offer grief resources to help you cope with the loss of a loved one. For a list of resources, plus Northeast Ohio support groups offering bereavement comfort and care, visit our grief support page.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2016, and has been updated for 2018 to be more comprehensive.
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