The eulogy is a speech in celebration of your loved one, a very
personal account of the way they have touched your life and others.
Writing and delivering the eulogy is a special task, for the eulogy
helps survivors say goodbye and can begin the healing process for
Anyone can deliver a eulogy-a family member, friend or
clergyperson-and it is best delivered by one who has known and
loved the deceased. The eulogy may even be shared, with a number of
people contributing words of remembrance and poetry.
Here are some hints that will help you create a eulogy worthy of
your loved one.
Hints for writing and delivering the
At this time, when they are so important, the eulogy brings
memories to the surface to be re-lived. In preserving and sharing
these memories, you create a gift for others and yourself. Embrace
this task you've been given. It means the world to those who share
Preparing to write
Before you begin to write, here is a simple strategy that will
help you prepare. Know that you are not alone in your task; you
have the support of family and friends.
1. Begin with the person's history
Note the significant events of the person's life in chronological
order: childhood, education, jobs, marriage, children, places lived
and so on.
2. Gather your stories
Jot down the stories that you remember-the ones that capture your
loved one's character. Ask family and friends for their stories as
These questions may help get you started:
- How did you first meet and become close?
- What did you love and admire about the person?
- What did they do that made you smile?
- What will you miss most?
Even the simplest stories are worthwhile. Remembering someone's
laugh or their love of sweets, for example, can be as moving as
recalling their kindness and generosity. Be sure to include stories
that at least some of your listeners will remember.
3. Look at photos
Going through photo albums may remind you of important qualities
and memories of the person who died.
4. Find a theme
By now you may see certain themes emerging. For example, your
collection of stories may reveal the person's deep love of animals,
the strays she brought home as a child, her dreams of becoming a
vet and the joy she experienced at opening her own practice.
Writing your eulogy to a theme will help it flow and is ideal for
illustrating the character of your loved one.
5. Arrange your notes
Now you have a chronology, stories and a theme, you can put your
notes in point form. We suggest arranging your material on cards,
with a different story or idea on each card. Once you have placed
the cards in order, you can begin to write your speech.
Writing the eulogy
In writing the eulogy, it helps to break it down into three parts:
introduction, body and conclusion. With your opening words,
introduce your listeners to the ideas you intend to elaborate on.
For example, 'Today, we unite to honour and remember our loved one,
who touched us all with her kindness and generosity'. The body of
the eulogy is where you share the stories that demonstrate the
qualities named in your introduction. Be sure to keep your theme in
mind as you write and use linking sentences between each story so
the eulogy flows. Use the conclusion to summarise the ideas raised
in your speech and to reiterate what your loved one has meant to
Hints for writing
- Write as though you are talking to a friend, for that is what
you will be doing-talking to a loving, supportive group.
- Compose your speech on a computer if possible so that you can
edit along the way.
- Don't be afraid to use humour where appropriate. Remember, the
eulogy is a celebration of the life of your loved one.
- You may want to use a special quote to open or close your
speech. Look to poetry, songs and historical speeches for
- Once you have completed your first draft, ask a trusted friend
or family member to read it over and suggest any changes.
- When you are happy with your speech, type or write it out in
large print with space between the lines so it is easy to
Delivering the eulogy
Public speaking can be frightening. You need to be brave. Know
that your listeners are supportive and loving. Know that it's okay
to make mistakes. No one expects you to be a great speaker and
certainly not at this difficult time. It is your words, and the
sentiment behind them, that matter the most.
Hints for speaking
- Before the day, practise in front of a mirror, imagining your
listeners before you.
- If you fear that you might break down, arrange for a backup
speaker to be on hand with a copy of your speech. Simply knowing
they are there may get you through.
- When the time comes, be yourself. Imagine you are talking to a
- Speak clearly and project your voice so everyone can hear
- If you feel yourself becoming choked up with emotion, pause and
take a deep breath to collect your thoughts. Your listeners will