At a funeral, it is common for there to be a eulogy, or even eulogies.
Literally translated, it’s the idea of giving the highest praise to someone or something. Put simply though, it is writing and delivering a speech at someone’s funeral that summarises their life, their character and the love for them.
If someone has asked you to give a eulogy at someone’s funeral, or, if you’ve lost a loved one and have decided you’d like to write one, it can be a hard knowing where to start.
Here are some helpful things to consider…
What is a eulogy?
A eulogy, or a speech, is a way to pay tribute to the passing of a person and their life. A eulogy helps those who have come to mourn, be reminded and reminisce of the character and memories of the person who has sadly passed; and pay their respects.
Although there are loose guidelines you may consider when compiling a eulogy, it’s more about speaking from the heart and how you feel.
How long should a eulogy be?
This can be a tricky one and really depends on the person giving the eulogy, and the service/venue. A funeral director will usually give you an idea of the time and advise you regarding the order of service.
Some funeral venues or services offer an allocated time-slot for you to deliver your eulogy. If you can deliver words quickly, and without struggling (many people will struggle as it is highly emotional), you may include more ‘words’ when writing one.
With the rise of less-traditional funeral services, such as humanist funerals and eco-funerals, time is becoming less relevant. Multiple people may want to deliver a eulogy and time can be less restrictive.
Who should give a eulogy?
Typically speaking, a person who was very close to the deceased will give a eulogy at their funeral. There can be more than one eulogy, such as from the children of the person who has passed.
It is not unique to family members or loved one, friends may also give eulogies.
Sometimes a loved one wants to give a eulogy but may find the process of reading it too difficult. You can write a eulogy and ask a friend, another family member or a vicar to read on your behalf.
How do you write a good eulogy?
When it comes to writing a eulogy there is no one-size-fits-all. Everyone has unique relationships and memories and so every eulogy is unique.
In our experience, it is helpful to speak with close friends and other family members about their memories and shared experiences with the deceased. You can also add your own and edit it accordingly.
When writing your eulogy, think about how you are communicating the deceased life to those who have come to mourn.
Is there anything that was really key to that person’s personality or life? Did they have favourite anecdotes which will resonate with multiple people? Were they well known for anything?
Get all your thoughts and memories down on paper and go through them as many times as you need, amending (if you feel the need) as you go.
Details to consider including when writing a eulogy?
As we mentioned earlier, a eulogy is about speaking from the heart. That said, you may wish to include some of the below:
- When and where they were born
- Acknowledgment of close family and/or guests (perhaps those who have travelled a distance to be there)
- How they met their spouse or partner
- Interests and passions (movies/music/books/sports etc)
- Favourite songs or quotes
- Achievements (sporting/education/service etc)
- Anything they have contributed to the community or any clubs/societies they partook in
Lastly, it is good to share your eulogy with others. Another pair of eyes can be really useful with something so emotional and personal, that you have probably spent a long time looking at.
Also, it is advisable to rehearse your eulogy, so you feel as comfortable as possible. It will be an emotional time and speaking slowly and clearly, so everyone can hear, is important. If you can, try to give eye contact with people; especially if you mention a close friend or family member. Some people don’t need their eulogy written out in full to read from, others do; do what is best for you. If you prefer to learn it by heart, do so. If you like que cards, use them.
Also try to stand still. It can be nerve wracking, and this can cause some people to sway or tap fingers and feet, which can be distracting.
Good luck, you will do a great job!
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