How to write a meaningful eulogy

 

Eulogies are a speech usually delivered at either a funeral or memorial service. Eulogies can be given by a close friend or family member, minister, priest, or celebrant and can include a mix of personal stories, thoughts, experiences, or feelings that honour the memory of your loved one.

 

Deciding on a eulogy style

Eulogies can be crafted in different ways depending on your personal style or relationship with the person, usually as a formal speech that covers the person’s achievements, personal history and career or a personal speech that shares anecdotes, memories and stories. Or a combination of both styles.

Pouring over so many personal memories may seem like a daunting task, but the process can also help start the healing process. We have provided some example eulogies below to help give you an idea of where to start.

 

Eulogy writing tips

It might sound cliché, but the most important step when crafting a eulogy is to write from the heart. Express the feelings that resonate the most with you and draw on the many resources available to you for inspiration. Some suggestions include:

  • Walk around the house to uncover old letters or emails, go through photo albums and memorabilia to reminisce on stories you shared with this person
  • Try walking around your loved one’s house or garden as this may trigger memories and ideas
  • Talk with close friends and relatives to help remember shared experiences and stories

If you’re still struggling to translate your emotions into words, here are some handy writing tips to help you:

  • Write down a list of special memories you shared with your loved one, along with your feelings for them, what they meant to you and anything that comes to mind.
  • Select a few especially meaningful items from this list to include in your eulogy. It’s perfectly fine to include humour in your speech if you think it would be appropriate. A funny story can often diffuse a lot of tension people feel at funerals and help distract them from their grief by focusing on positive memories they shared with the deceased.
  • Start by writing the first draft and don’t worry if it’s a mess.
  • Structure the draft so it has an introduction, a middle and a conclusion.
  • Finally, review and edit your eulogy and practice reading it aloud until it feels natural. Remember, we write and speak very differently, so make sure to edit the language so it feels natural to verbalise.

 

What you can include in your eulogy

There’s no right or wrong thing to include in a eulogy, you should choose to speak about your loved one in a way that is meaningful to you. Some people like to list all their achievements or provide a summarised timeline of their life. Others may prefer to share a few specific personal stories or memories.

Some suggested topics you might like to include in your eulogy are:
 

Early childhood

  • When and where they grew up
  • Names and relationships with their parents and any siblings
  • Clubs they were a part of
  • Locations or activities of interest as a child
     

Education and career

  • Where they went to school
  • Any academic awards
  • Trade qualifications or further qualifications at TAFE or university
  • What they do for work and any achievements they made
     

Family life

  • Details about any marriages, children or other significant relationships
  • Information about grandchildren or great-grandchildren
  • Memorably stories about family vacations, pets or home life
     

Interests, hobbies and achievements

  • Details on any military service
  • Details on any sporting achievements
  • Stories about hobbies, passions or crafts
  • General likes and dislikes
  • Details of historical significance
  • Information on positions held or other memberships
     

Other special stories or literature

  • Any special stories, quotes, sayings or significant qualities
  • Special readings, poetry or music can also be included