Writing a tribute to a sister
The death of a sister is often a very sad time. Whether you’ve volunteered to write her eulogy or a family member has coerced you into it, you’ll no doubt want to write a fitting tribute to your sister that captures your fondest memories and highlights the person that she was.
If you’re keen to start writing the eulogy straight away, download a copy of our Eulogy Workbook. It includes eulogy examples for a sister.
Eulogies are also known as funeral speeches. They’re usually quite short – only 3 to 5 minutes if there are other people speaking about your sister besides the celebrant. If you’re the only one speaking, then you can consider extending your speech to about 10 minutes.
A 3 to 5-minute eulogy is usually around 600 to 750 words, 2 or 3 A4 pages. A longer eulogy is closer to 5 or 6 A4 pages.
Because eulogies are actually quite short, there’s no need to feel pressured to pack every aspect of your sister’s life in those few minutes. You only need to share the details that are most important to you, a few memories you’ll forever cherish, and end with a fond farewell to your sibling.
Before you start writing the eulogy, think about the people who will attend your sister’s funeral. Consider what they might like to hear about your sister’s life, things they didn’t know about her. Even if your relationship with your sister was
Set a theme for your sister’s eulogy
While it’s not necessary to set a theme for your sister’s eulogy, it can really help you choose what to say and which memories to share.
When choosing a theme, people think about what their loved one was most known for – that key characteristic that defined them as a person.
If a theme doesn’t come to mind straight away, chat to your family and her friends. Listen to their stories and memories. Ask them what they’ll remember the most about your sister. Seeing your sister from their point-of-view might help you find that theme you can base the eulogy on.
Start writing a eulogy for your sister
Write the opening
You can open the eulogy by explaining who you are and your relationship with your sister. Some people at the funeral might not know you, so it’s good to tell them upfront that you’re her sister.
You can thank people for coming, especially those who travelled a long way to be there. You can also greet people who are watching the funeral via a live streaming service.
Mention some of the key biographical details about her life. This could include:
- where and when she was born and what was happening in the world at that time
- where she grew up
- who her parents were and where they lived
- her relationship with other siblings
- her education and career highlights
- key relationships – partners and her children
You could include some of her favourite things from childhood – friends, music, films, movie star crushes, anything that you think helped shape her early life.
Next, think about sharing details about:
- the things she loved doing
- who the important people were around her – you can look beyond family and at friends, neighbours and colleagues, etc.
- her volunteering activities
- travel highlights and other life adventures
- career highlights
- special skills and talents.
If you feel like you have too much detail, filter it against the theme you set. Only include the information that fits well with your theme.
Share your memories
Next it’s time to start weaving your memories into the eulogy. You can add these to the details you shared in the opening, or include them as stand alone, separate stories.
It’s fine to include humorous stories in the eulogy. We remember the standout memories we have about people close to us because of how we felt in that moment. Humorous memories often stand out and they can break the tension people feel during a funeral. It will be well received so long as the humour isn’t mean-spirited.
Any eulogy delivered with warmth and kindness is a good eulogy.
Write your final farewell
You might find writing the final farewell to your sister to be the hardest part of writing the eulogy.
There’s no right or wrong way to write it. You can speak directly to your sister or you can speak to the people attending her funeral.
In your final farewell, you can express what your sister meant to you and how much you’ll miss her and what things will forever remind you of her.
If you get stuck writing this part, think about what your sister would say – what words of comfort would she offer you and the others attending?
Practice delivering your sister’s eulogy
To ensure you feel confident to deliver your sister’s eulogy on the day of her funeral, practice reading the eulogy aloud many times.
Time how long it takes. You might need to cut some material if you think it’s too long.
You can ask family or friends to take a look at your eulogy, but ultimately, it’s your story and your memories of your sister and her life. You don’t have to take their feedback on board.
If you’re worried about becoming too emotional to continue with the eulogy, have some strategies in mind for handling this. You can plan to:
- pause and take deep breaths
- have a sip of water
- look to someone in the audience for encouragement
- have a back-up reader to take over from you.
When printing out the eulogy, add page numbers in case the pages get mixed up. Try to keep them flat and not folded so they sit neatly on the lectern. Print it in a large font size so it’s easy to read.
By having a digital copy, you can easily share it with others after the funeral via email or social media.
We hope you feel confident to write a heartfelt eulogy that expresses how much your sister means to you.
Download our eulogy workbook
To help you write a eulogy for your sister that remembers her with love, warmth and respect, download a copy of our eulogy workbook. It includes a eulogy samples of what you could write as a tribute to your sister.