Writing and delivering a eulogy is the perfect way to celebrate and commemorate the life of a loved one. It is your way of saying farewell and sharing your thoughts, feelings and fondest memories of a person. For some people, writing a eulogy can be surprisingly therapeutic and a form of healing.
Whether delivered by yourself, a close friend, family member or priest, a eulogy should celebrate the life of the deceased. It can also remind close friends and family members of the legacy they leave behind.
If you are not a confident writer or public speaker, the thought of preparing a eulogy can be scary. Here are some tips on how to write a eulogy that is meaningful and be comfortable with presenting your speech.
Think about what you want to say about the person. What experiences were most meaningful to you? How did they enrich other people’s lives? What lasting impact have they left on the family? Answering these questions can help you put your thoughts and feelings onto the page.
Do you need some inspiration? Consider going through old family albums, letters, personal items and other memorabilia. You may also visit the deceased’s home or wander around their old neighbourhood to help jog your memory.
If you have been tasked with writing a eulogy for someone you do not know particularly well (i.e. a colleague), you could try talk to their friends, co-workers and family to learn more about them.
By collecting this information, you can start to think about the stories you want to tell and how to write them into the eulogy.
Before you write the eulogy, you can brainstorm your ideas and map everything out on a visual diagram. Even something as simple as a word association diagram can help you get started. Start simple by writing down ‘stories’ onto the page, then branch out and write particular moments or events you can remember.
Keep writing down different ideas – like your feelings toward the person or special moments – until you have completely exhausted your visual map. Try not to overthink the process or worry about only remembering the ‘best’ bits. Even the most insignificant details could be a spark for a great theme or story.
Write a Draft
Now that you have written down your ideas, it is time to form those thoughts into a cohesive speech.
When you write your eulogy, keep it down-to-earth and do not try to be too fanciful or poetic. Remember, you have to speak the words you write, so use words you are comfortable with saying and would normally use in regular conversation. If you try to use unfamiliar language or be overly creative, you risk stumbling on your own words.
Reference the notes you wrote down and let the words come naturally. Don not worry, you can rewrite and edit the content later. Just make sure the eulogy is respectful and maintains a positive manner from start to end.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Now you can revise the content to ensure it is appropriate, easy to read, and sums up everything you want to say.
Does the introduction to your speech establish the right mood? Does what you say tie in nicely with the theme? Does one section drag on too long? Be sure to read each section carefully and cut or add info where necessary. Make sure the focus is on the deceased and the people that made their life special.
Also, be sure to read aloud your eulogy and simplify any words or sentences that are difficult to say. Keep sentences short to provide enough space to breathe, and split the content into neat little paragraphs to keep the momentum going.
Once you are happy with the final drafts of your eulogy, keep reading the eulogy aloud and familiarise yourself with the content. Even though you will have a copy of the eulogy on you during the speech, being able to memorise key sections can help you stop losing your train of thought.
Make sure the eulogy lasts for a reasonable amount of time too. Anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes should be enough time to say everything you need. Too little and you risk not saying enough, too long and you could affect the overall service.
The Day of the Eulogy
On the day, have a clear copy of your eulogy in front of you.
Be sure to speak clearly and slowly during your speech. Maintain eye contact with everyone in the room and try not to bury yourself in the pages. Reading a eulogy is an incredibly emotional experience, so it is okay to be swept up in the moment and shed a few tears.
As long as your eulogy is meaningful, heartfelt and spoken clearly, you will have done more than enough to pay your respects. Simply express your love of the individual and what they did to enrich the lives of so many people.
If you can do that, you will have presented a successful eulogy.
Talk to Funerals of Compassion today. Call 1300 906 060 for 24/7 advice and support.