What is a Eulogy?
A eulogy is a speech delivered in tribute to someone who has died. Usually presented during a funeral service, a eulogy is an opportunity to farewell a loved one by sharing stories and reflections in their honour.
This blog article has been created to assist you to with the remembrance process and to provide you with a helpful guide in preparation for eulogy writing.
Why write a eulogy?
Public speaking can be challenging at the best of times, and perhaps even more so at a funeral where there is the possibility that your emotions will get the better of you. Careful preparation will lend your speech a sense of purpose and direction; the last thing you want is to become lost or start rambling.
Taking the time to thoroughly prepare your funeral speech is the best way to ensure you express your thoughts in a considered, engaging and accurate manner.
How do I begin?
It can be helpful to think of the eulogy as an opportunity to tell parts of the life story of the deceased. It’s not possible to fully capture someone’s entire life within a few minutes so don’t worry if you can’t include everything. Try not to let your sense of responsibility for writing the perfect funeral remembrance piece become too overwhelming. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone.
Gather stories from the people who were close to your loved one. When you talk with relatives, friends and neighbours you might find that common threads and themes will emerge, use these ideas as a structure that you can weave together in the funeral remembrance.
What should a eulogy include?
- Names and Dates
It sounds simple but it is important to begin by introducing yourself and explaining your connection to the deceased.
You can then provide the full name, place and date of birth date of your loved one. Remember to include the middle name(s), maiden name, nicknames and any other name by which they have been known. Stating the names of their parents completes the foundation of the eulogy.
- Mention of Loved Ones
Mention of spouses or partners, children, siblings, life-long friends and beloved pets helps provide a context for the life of the deceased. It is a good idea to mention loved ones in a chronological order; begin with those the deceased knew the longest, some of whom may have preceded them in death and follow through to those still present today.
- Education and Work Experience
State the names of the schools your loved one attended and provide some insight into their favourite subjects. Include mention of any further education they completed including technical qualifications or tertiary degrees. You can include details of any notable achievements or awards they received.
Provide a summary of their working life, but try not to make it sound too much like a resume. Intersperse your speech with brief anecdotes and try to highlight those achievements of which your loved one was most proud.
- Memberships and Associations
Include a description of any clubs, charities or organisations that were important to your loved one. Detail the connections they had and the contributions they made; try to describe how their life was enriched by these associations.
- Travel Experience, Interests and Hobbies
Include mention of special places your loved one visited, sports they played and supported, collections they made or activities they enjoyed.
How long should a eulogy be?
There is no set time limit for a eulogy but we find that 5 minutes is a good time for any one speaker to aim for. Don’t under-estimate how emotionally difficult it can be to deliver a eulogy, having too much content can be difficult to get through.
Can the role of presenting the Eulogy be shared?
A Eulogy can incorporate multiple speakers, and many families find this a more comfortable approach. In this case, presenters may speak for about 3 minutes each. It is also a good idea to ensure each speaker covers a different topic. For example, topics may include a mix of the loved one’s life story, nicknames, education, friendships, pets, their legacy etc. For more ideas on topics, you can download our Funeral Planning Guide.
What sort of tone is appropriate for a eulogy?
A heartfelt and sincere eulogy can still include humour and positivity. Don’t be afraid to share amusing stories, the mixed emotions shared when listening to a eulogy can play an important role in the healing process.
How can I best prepare before giving the eulogy?
It is a good idea to practice reading your funeral speech at home. Check the pronunciation of unfamiliar names and places and remember to speak slowly and clearly.
Print the eulogy in a large font, double space the lines and select single-side printing for easy reading. Having the eulogy printed means that if you are unable to continue another family member, Minister or Celebrant can pick up and continue.
Have a strategy in place in case you do become emotional on the day. Think about taking some deep breaths, have a tissue handy and don’t be afraid to acknowledge and show your feelings because it can be a very important part of the grieving process for yourself, and for others too. Tears are okay, just take a bit of time and continue as you feel you are ready. You may wish to have someone come and stand near you for support as you deliver the eulogy.
The Pastoral Care team at Bethel Funerals are available to support you through the remembrance process. Our Eulogy Planning Guide includes a selection of meaningful quotes, poems and prayers that you might like to feature in the eulogy you are writing for your loved one, as well as a eulogy example and template for you to use.