Delivering a eulogy or funeral speech is an opportunity to share the things you cherished about someone, brag on their accomplishments, and tell friends and family about their unique charms and funny quirks.
Simply giving a kind and respectful speech will make a good eulogy. However, a little research can help you write and deliver a wonderfully meaningful tribute that goes beyond a list of accomplishments and virtues. But writing a eulogy can be a difficult task when time is limited and emotions are high. You may be tasked with writing a eulogy in addition to making funeral arrangements, supporting other family members and working through your own grief. To make it a bit easier, we’ve outlined a few things that can help you write a touching and memorable eulogy.
Brainstorm and research
Start by gathering all the biographical details about the person you are eulogizing, including when and where they were born, important jobs they held, how many children they had and more. These details are a starting point for sharing meaningful stories. After all, your dad was more than the job he worked. Your spouse had passions beyond his children.
So how do you capture the best parts of a life? Spend some time thinking about what was meaningful to your loved one and which memories celebrate their life. Most everyone has a pastime that feeds their soul and reflects a deep interest. Maybe your wife was known for her beautiful garden or your father had a famous barbecue sauce recipe. Maybe your sister rescued hundreds of animals in her lifetime, or perhaps your brother was a secret sculptor. Talk to other family members and friends about their favourite memories and stories of your loved one. Here are a few thought-starters:
- Ask your spouse’s siblings to share their funniest childhood stories.
- Have your children reflect on a time when their dad made them feel special.
- Gather your mom’s grandchildren and ask them to share what they loved best about their grandmother.
- Call up former teachers and classmates and get them to tell you about the special qualities and attributes that your brother possessed.
Once you’ve gathered all the information you can, start writing. If you’re having trouble getting going, pick a theme to help you organize your thoughts. If your dad spent most of his time outdoors, share stories related to his wild camping trips, mishaps at the lake or the ways he shared his love for nature with others. If your spouse’s greatest joy was her grandchildren, share their favourite memories of her and all the ways her legacy will live on through other family members. Describe how your mom devoted her extra time to the community by teaching classes, helping at a food bank or serving on the board of nonprofits.
Each life is unique, and a well-written eulogy expresses a person’s unique personality, reminds people of the good times, and helps generate even more fond memories of a life well celebrated.
Edit and practice your delivery
Once you have a draft of the eulogy, start practicing your delivery well before the memorial service. As you practice your funeral speech, you’ll most likely pause and edit several times, adding details or reorganizing your thoughts. It can be helpful to practice with a sibling, child or parent who can give helpful feedback. Once you have a final draft, take the time to proofread the eulogy and double-check all the details.
Keep in mind that a eulogy isn’t an opportunity to air out a grievance or make sense of a loss. It’s an opportunity to tell the story of a remarkable life. As you complete your eulogy draft, add a final tribute to close your speech. This could be a simple statement that ties your thoughts together, a favourite scripture or quote or a final heartfelt farewell.
Tips for delivering a eulogy
Before you take the podium at a funeral or memorial service, print out the eulogy in a large font with double line spacing so that you can easily read what you’ve prepared. Remember to speak slowly. Take deep breaths and make eye contact with family members and friends. Have a glass of water nearby in case you need to clear your throat.
If while you’re sharing your eulogy, you stumble over your words or become emotional, that’s OK! It’s perfectly natural. Allow yourself to pause, wipe your eyes with a tissue and then continue with your message of love, laughter, remembrance and gratitude.