When we work with families to plan a funeral, there are numerous arrangements we need to make. Writing the eulogy is a task about which many families express concern.
We hear from many people who are stuck with writing a eulogy. They often describe a feeling of writer’s block, and they just don’t know how to proceed. We have compiled this list of our top six tips for overcoming eulogy writer’s block to get you back on track and ready to complete this task.
Connect with others
Writing a funeral speech can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be gruelling. You do not need to work alone. Talk with friends, family and colleagues of the deceased to gather facts and stories about the life they lived.
Try using social media to gain different insights into your loved one. Ask questions like ‘If you were to use one word to describe their character what would it be?’ or ‘Share a significant memory you have of them.’ You can make use of these responses by summarising a list: “When it came to their character, this is what other people said about them… [list responses].”
The experience of connecting with others can be healing. You might even discover some interesting new insights into the character and beliefs of your loved one. The different perspectives you gain from others will help provide balance and lend renewed energy to your writing.
Find a comfortable space where you are least likely to be disturbed. It might be helpful to set yourself up at a dining table, or desk, where you can set out documents and photographs to inspire your writing.
To minimise the need to leave your working space, try to have everything you need close to hand before you begin. Switch off your phone, silence any notifications on your computer and allow yourself to become fully immersed in the task of eulogy writing.
Schedule writing time
Once the date for the funeral has been set, you will be able to set yourself a timeline for eulogy writing. It can be helpful to schedule a session of writing time every day. Set aside one to two hours and write steadily, without judgement, for that time.
Take a moment to close your eyes and think of your loved one. Be still for a few minutes and let memories and feelings come to the surface. When you are ready, begin with a free-ranging brainstorming session. Jot down a series short points, descriptive phrases and memorable events in any order, these can be sorted and sifted later.
Give yourself a break between scheduled writing bursts to think about other things, and engage in other pursuits. Adhering to a writing schedule helps to keep your mind fresh, maintain a healthy perspective and allows you time to process your thoughts between writing sessions.
Don’t judge your own writing. Your purpose in writing the eulogy is not to impress or convince your audience, but to capture and reflect on the life of another. Rather than aiming for perfection, try to be free and express yourself with feeling and creativity.
During the process of eulogy writing, there might be moments when you feel emotional and become overwhelmed. This is a normal part of the grief journey. Remember to pause, take a break and seek comfort when you need to. Imagine just how proud and grateful your loved one would be to know you are honouring their memory with your words, this might help you find the strength to keep writing.
There is no ‘correct’ way to begin the eulogy writing process. If staring at a blank page is intimidating, start anywhere in the life story of your loved one. You don’t have to write your first draft in a chronological, or even logical, order.
The best way to overcome writer’s block is to write through it. Don’t stop to edit as you go, the structure and shape can come later. Just make a start, write the words, write bullet points, or use this free mind-mapping template and see where your thoughts take you.
You can write using a computer, a typewriter or pen and paper. Work with the medium that feels most comfortable for you and the funeral speech ideas will flow more freely.
If you really are lost for words, or you just can’t seem to express yourself, don’t despair. Including poetry, song lyrics or a Bible reading to explain how you feel is an excellent idea.
Think about the films, books, songs or Bible verses your loved one enjoyed the most. You might like to quote from a selection of these or use them to frame your remembrance speech.
In our article, Funeral Poems and Readings we have provided a curated selection of funeral poetry and quotations for you to choose from when writing a eulogy.
By creating a structure around the process of eulogy writing you give yourself the best chance to feel a sense of control over what can at first seem a daunting task. Be kind to yourself and write on. Ignore the hindrances, and remember not to seek perfection, you can edit your thoughts later.
If you are still unsure about funeral speech ideas, our article How to Write a Eulogy is available to provide you with further guidance and advice.