How to Write a Eulogy

How to Write a Eulogy

While being asked to deliver a eulogy is an honor, the fear of speaking in public can be overwhelming. Talking about a difficult, stressful, confusing and painful subject like death can often make this fear worse.

But take heart in the fact that you were asked to do this because of the close bond you shared with this person. You wouldn’t have been asked if the family didn’t trust you. Their goal is not to make you uncomfortable or make a display of your grief. They’ve asked you because they feel you are best suited to help everyone else say goodbye and remember the good times.

Don’t Worry That You’re Not a Writer

You don’t need to be a writer to move people. All you need to do is tell your story and speak from the heart. Flowery words won’t display your depth of feeling or sense of loss any better than simple and straightforward ones. Sometimes the simplest thoughts or descriptions touch us the deepest.

You don’t have to talk about someone’s courage or kindness if that’s not what you really feel. If you’re going to miss the way her cheeks dimpled when she smiled or the way his freckles got darker in the summer, say so. There are no right or wrong memories.

If humor suits this person’s personality, you can even joke about the less-than-best qualities you found endearing. If you’re going to miss the way he bellowed when his sports team lost or the way she only cursed when she was angry, you can share that, too. Sometimes moments like these are the most cathartic.

Change Your Perspective

If you can’t bear the thought of writing for the audience or aren’t sure what they want to hear, write to the person you lost instead. Tell them what you always wanted them to know. What you admired about them. What you’ll miss most about them. What reminds you of them. How their loss has changed you or your perspective on life.

Focus on Your Favorite Memories or Attributes

Is there a memory of this person that captures the essence of who they were to you? Share it.

How did you meet this person? What hurdles did you have to overcome together? Is there a time when this person was there for you when no one else was? Talk about it.

Is there one moment you believe really solidified your friendship? Talk about what happened and what it meant to you.

Include a Favorite Quote

If you’re really stuck on what to say or how to begin or end your eulogy, you can look to poetry, scripture, literature or lyrics for inspiration. Sometimes others have expressed the feeling or sentiment we can’t find the words to describe.

Also think of the person you’re writing for. Did they have a catchphrase or something they would always say? What would they say or do when you were down to make you feel better? Did they ever say something that really stuck with you? Use that as a jumping off point.

Let Yourself Have Emotions

Don’t try to keep everything bottled inside until this is over. Having emotions does not make you weak and you should not be afraid to express them. If you need to have a good cry while you’re writing, let it flow. If you well up while you’re speaking, pause, breathe and keep going.

A funeral is one place where you’re guaranteed to have an interested and empathetic audience. They will share in your pain and grief and understand how difficult this is for you. If you let your grief show, it may just help them work through the complicated feelings they’re experiencing and bring everyone closer together.

If you’re absolutely terrified, ask someone to be your backup in case you’re unable to finish. A family member or friend can offer support when things get rough. Even a spiritual leader or funeral director can jump in for you. Just remember to give them a copy of your eulogy beforehand – just in case.

If you run out of things to say, you can invite others to come share their memories.

While this seems hard now, the experience may turn out to be far more rewarding than you expect. So just do the best you can. It will be good. It will be enough.

National Cremation is one of the nation’s oldest and largest providers of cremation services. If you have an immediate need, please call us at (855) 469-9474. To learn more about preplanning your final arrangements, please contact us today.


Special thanks to Samantha Maiden, location manager of National Cremation Portland, OR for her support and contributions to this post.

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