A eulogy is an oral presentation given at a funeral or memorial service in memory of the deceased. It is a tribute to the deceased and means "blessing" or "praise." Respect and affection for the deceased are the primary requirements for writing and delivering a meaningful eulogy.
A eulogy celebrates the whole person describing their joys, challenges and memorable achievements. It can include a condensed life history of the deceased with details about their family and friends as well as personal stories, anecdotes, poems and songs. Writing and delivering a eulogy from the heart can create the most touching and memorable of tributes. It is an opportunity to certainly Remember Their Story.
When writing and delivering a eulogy, consider the following:
- As you form your thoughts and before the actual writing, think about the deceased and the relationship you had with that individual. Think about where you first met, the things you shared together, any special memories, and what you will miss the most about that person. Celebrate the whole person: their joys, their challenges, their achievements.
- As you begin to write, be sure the eulogy is concise and easy to follow. Avoid stiff wording or references that will be unfamiliar to most of your audience.
- Consider how serious or light-hearted you want the eulogy to be. A strong eulogy need not be somber, just appropriate. Humor can relax both the speaker and the audience and even serious eulogies may benefit from a bit of humor. If unsure about how much humor to include, err on the side of caution.
- Don't write anything you wouldn't say in front of the deceased.
- Read the first written draft of your eulogy out loud. Then rehearse it with someone who can offer constructive feedback on content and delivery style. Make any necessary revisions. It may take more than one draft and one rehearsal to get the information and tone you want.
- Before the funeral service begins, take a few minutes for yourself. Consider going for a brief walk, reading quietly or listening to peaceful music. Use this solitude as a time to focus your thoughts and calm yourself.
- Beginning the actual delivery of the eulogy can often be the most difficult step. Before speaking, take several deep breaths and perhaps a sip of water.
- Using an outline or notes is perfectly acceptable during delivery, but try not to read your eulogy. Remember that you are offering a special tribute to a loved one. Speak to your audience as though you're speaking to friends.
- Don't hesitate to pause during delivery should you need to regain your composure. Your audience will undoubtedly understand. You may even want to prepare someone to be your backup speaker should you become overwhelmed by emotion.
- As you complete your eulogy, you may share a memorable phrase, quotation or poem. Remember, it is an honor to deliver this tribute, and just as you wrote from the heart, deliver from the heart, and Remember Their Story