Having the opportunity to give a eulogy at someone’s funeral is a wonderful honor, but also a big responsibility. It’s a way to pay tribute to someone’s life, while also bringing comfort to their grieving loved ones. For many people, however, giving an important speech in front of a group of people can be an overwhelming task, especially in the midst of trying to grieve yourself. Fortunately, with a little preparation, delivering a respectful, sympathetic eulogy is easier than you may think. Here are some practical steps to deliver a touching eulogy.
The Do’s & Don’ts of a Good Eulogy
First and foremost, it’s important to note what should and shouldn’t be included in the eulogy. When preparing to write your speech, keep these tips in mind:
- Be honest. You want your eulogy to be viewed as sincere, not fake. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and show emotion with your audience.
- Share how the deceased person impacted your life in a good way.
- Include a funny story or two to lighten the mood and make your audience smile.
- Relax. Your speech should sound like you’re talking with friends.
- Get input from friends and family of the deceased. Be sure to include others’ stories and perspectives as well.
Writing about someone’s life and death is an extremely personal matter. Because of this, it’s best to choose your words wisely. Here are some things to avoid that could take away from the eulogy:
- Don’t talk about how difficult it is to give your speech. People know it’s an emotional task. If you aren’t up for the challenge, have someone else do it.
- Don’t stress about it. No one will expect the eulogy to be perfect. People will appreciate your willingness to take on an emotionally challenging duty.
- Don’t use your platform to bring up negative memories. If you have a complicated history with the deceased person, leave out the bad blood or ask someone else to give the eulogy.
How to Write a Eulogy
Once you have an idea of how you should approach writing the eulogy and recognizing what aspects are better left out, it’s time to organize your thoughts and get your ideas down on paper.
1. Collect Memories: Start by collecting stories and memories from people who knew and loved the deceased person. A great way to go about doing this is to sit with the grieving loved ones and write things down as people openly share their memories.
2. Brainstorm: After you’ve collected a variety of details, stories, and memories from a variety of people who knew the person at different points in their life, the writing process can begin. Set aside a block of time to look over your notes from the person’s loved ones and write down anything and everything that comes to mind: their hobbies, pastimes, quirks, personality traits, etc. Take note of any reoccurring themes, significant details, or unique characteristics that would be helpful in painting a dynamic picture of what made this person special.
3. Write a Draft: When you have acquired a solid collection of stories, memories, and details to share, it’s time to link them together into a coherent speech. Don’t worry about using fancy language or sounding like a professional. Instead, the eulogy should sound like you’re speaking to a group of friends. After you’ve written your first draft, set it aside to clear your mind and come back to it later.
4. Review: After stepping away from it for a while, read the eulogy out loud to ensure that it flows naturally, makes sense, and includes plenty of details about the person’s life and personality. Have a friend look over it or listen while you give it. Sometimes an objective perspective can give recommendations to make it better that you may not have thought of on your own.
5. Practice: Once you decide that it’s perfect, practice saying it out loud multiple times. This will ensure that you are familiar with the material and are more relaxed when the time comes to actually give it. Be sure to give speak slowly and clearly so your audience won’t miss a word of what you share. Likewise, do your best to make contact with the people you’re speaking to.
How long should a eulogy be?
A eulogy should be anywhere between 3 to 10 minutes long. To keep your audience‘s attention without going overboard, strive to keep the eulogy meaningful, but brief.
Writing and delivering can be an emotionally-taxing endeavor, but it’s well worth the effort to give someone one last gift before you lay them to rest. By taking the time to prepare and practice, you can give a heartfelt eulogy that will bring comfort to everyone who has the privilege of hearing it.