How To Write a Eulogy

Delivering a eulogy is an opportunity to share the things you cherished about someone, brag about their accomplishments, and tell friends and family about their unique charms and funny quirks.

A eulogy is a speech given at a funeral or memorial service to remember and honor a loved one who has passed. Usually, one or more close family members or friends will deliver a eulogy during a service. A simple, kind and respectful speech makes 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.

When time is limited and emotions are high, writing a eulogy can be a difficult task. You may find yourself writing a eulogy in addition to making funeral arrangements, supporting other family members and working through your own grief. To make it easier, here are a few tips that can help you craft a touching and memorable eulogy.

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Brainstorm and research

Start by gathering 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 only a starting point for sharing meaningful stories. After all, your dad was more than his job. Your spouse had passions beyond their children.

To capture the best parts of a life, spend some time thinking about what was meaningful to your loved one—and what you will miss most about them. Almost 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 animals, or perhaps your brother was a secret sculptor.

You can also talk to other family members and friends about their favorite memories of and stories about 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 remember what they loved best about their grandmother.
  • Call up former teachers and classmates and get them to tell you about your brother’s special qualities and attributes.

Write the eulogy

Once you’ve gathered all the information you can, start writing. To help you organize your thoughts, you might try picking a theme. If your dad spent most of his time outdoors, share stories about his wild camping trips or the ways he shared his love for nature with others. If your spouse’s greatest joy was her grandchildren, share their favorite memories of her and the ways her legacy will live on through other family members.

Keep in mind that a eulogy is not an opportunity to air out a grievance or even make sense of a loss. It’s an opportunity to tell the story of a remarkable life. 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.

How long should a eulogy be?

There’s no fixed amount of time or word count for eulogies, but most take about 5 to 10 minutes to deliver and are about 700 to 3,000 words long. It may be challenging to condense all your thoughts and feelings, particularly if you were very close to the person. But keeping it short will help you hold your listeners’ attention.

Rather than a biography, think of the eulogy as a snapshot that captures some key moments in your loved one’s life, as well as their most profound interests, character traits and contributions.

How to start a eulogy

The first few lines of a eulogy set the tone, which can be somber or lighthearted, depending on the loved one’s personality and circumstances of their death. Many eulogies interweave joy and humor with sadness. No matter what approach you take, the speech should be heartfelt and respectful.

You might open with one of the loved one’s favorite quotes, poems, lyrics or scriptural passages, or a catchphrase or motto that encapsulates their spirit. Next, introduce yourself and describe your relationship to the person who has passed. This is also a good opportunity to thank attendees for coming. If you aren’t related to the person you are eulogizing, you might want to offer condolences to the family.

How to write the middle of a eulogy

Here, you can tell a story about the person and describe their character, accomplishments, passions and impact. Reflect on your fondest memories of them and what defined them most. Think about what made them happiest, what their talents were and what you admired about them.

How to end a eulogy

Like the introduction, a eulogy’s closing is usually short and simple. You might end with a poem, verse or quote that reinforces the theme of your speech. You can sum up a few key things you would like attendees to remember about the person. Lastly, you can express your affection and gratitude, restate your condolences and say a final farewell.

Edit and practice your delivery

Once you have a draft, start practicing your delivery well before the memorial service. As you practice, you’ll most likely pause and edit several times to add details or reorganize your thoughts.

It can be helpful to practice with a sibling, child or parent who can give feedback. Once you have a final draft, take time to proofread the eulogy, double checking all the details.

Deliver the eulogy

Before you take the podium at a funeral or memorial service, print out the eulogy in a large font with double spacing so it’s easy to read. Remember to speak slowly. Take deep breaths and make eye contact with family members and friends. Have a tissue and a glass of water nearby in case you need to wipe away tears or clear your throat.

While you’re sharing your eulogy, if you stumble over your words or become emotional, that’s OK! It’s perfectly natural. Allow yourself to pause, gather yourself and continue with your message of love, laughter, remembrance and gratitude.


Plan a beautiful, personal remembrance

Each life is like no other. Particular passions, milestone moments and legacies created weave together to tell a story that is completely unique. The Insider’s Guide to Funeral & Cremation Planning will walk you through inspirational ideas and the simple steps to planning an unforgettable memorial of a loved one’s life—or your own when you plan in advance. Get started today.

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