Tips for Writing a Eulogy
Writing a eulogy to properly honor and commemorate a loved one is a big responsibility. This is an opportunity to comfort friends and family, pay respects to the decedent, share stories and details of their life, and ultimately, offer a memorable dedication that fully conveys how meaningful this person was in your life and the lives of others. While eulogizing someone is highly personal and differs greatly based on a number of factors, there are some tips you can follow to make it an easier, smoother experience that offers comfort and compassion to the entire group. Read on for Tegeler’s tips for writing a eulogy.
Consider Family and Friends
Before you get started writing your eulogy, you may want to discuss it with those closest to the person who has passed. Collect stories, memories, facts, and information, and make sure you have any relevant dates and places accounted for.
Writing a eulogy is a big job, and sharing it with others may make it easier for you. It’s critical that you remember your own emotional wellbeing during this process and reach out to friends and family when you need it. You may also learn valuable things you didn’t already know that can make your eulogy even more special.
At a funeral service for which you are responsible for the eulogy, you may know a lot of the attendees, but not every single one. Regardless, it is important to start out by introducing yourself. Mention who you are, how you knew the deceased, and maybe some details on how you met them and what role they played in your everyday life. You will likely want to go into your relationship with them more later in your eulogy, but start off with some basics.
Address the Major Points of Their Life
After you have introduced the eulogy, you will want to talk about the deceased. Consider giving a timeline-type description of their life, perhaps including:
- Major events
- Parents, spouses, children, and other family
- Professional and personal achievements
- Values, beliefs, and the things they loved and cared about
This is an opportunity to allow people to remember this person fondly, reflect on memories, and perhaps learn more about their past. Mention some special parts of their life, achievements, highlights, and unique points. Don’t worry about including everything.
If there are unresolved issues or anything similar, try to refrain from mentioning them. A eulogy is, in general, not an appropriate time to mention negative things, and if they can be avoided, they should.
Make it Personal
In a eulogy, it’s perfectly okay to get personal. Consider what the person who has passed meant to you, what they meant to others, and who they were. You can also explore the way their loss has affected the people that loved them. It might be emotional and difficult to think about, but it important to tap into your most authentic feelings if you are going to write a memorable and honest dedication. This is the time to be honest, open, real, and vulnerable.
Everyone in attendance is feeling a sense of loss and is hurting, and sharing these feelings can be very comforting and create a sense of connection. That said, do not feel obligated to push yourself too far or make yourself too uncomfortable. Include what you feel is appropriate and do not feel like you need to share everything if you do not want to.
Stick with an Appropriate Tone
The tone of the funeral service can vary depending on a few factors. For some eulogies, a lighter tone and even some jokes may be in keeping with the ambience. Some people might even make it clear before passing that they want their funeral to be more of a celebration of life and less of a somber affair. This can absolutely also be dictated by the nature of the person’s passing. It is best to consult with the closest family members and identify their expectations and wishes regarding the tone of the eulogy before starting to write it. Tone can also affect delivery and language choice.
Ask for Help and Practice Reading
Public speaking does not come naturally for everyone. It can make some people feel very anxious and uncomfortable, and adding the context of a funeral can make it even more difficult. It is important to practice delivering your eulogy. Ask a family member or friend to listen and provide feedback. Remember that if you truly do not believe you can deliver the eulogy, that’s okay. You can ask someone else to deliver it if you still wish to write it, or you can ask someone else to do the entire process in general.
If you are struggling with the grieving process to the point of it hindering your ability to give a public dedication, reach out for help from those closest to you, and don’t try to force it.
Don’t Overthink It
When it comes to a eulogy, things like grammar, sentence structure, metaphor, and other linguistic devices are not that important. Don’t worry too much about making things sound perfect. Speak from your heart and write in your own voice and use your own words. Most eulogies are about 700-1000 words, but there are certainly no hard limits or expectations associated with length. No one is going to judge your language choices, and the more authentic you are, the more comfortable you will be delivering the eulogy at the service.
Include Quotes, Verses, and/or Poems
Depending on the decedent’s interests, lifestyle, and beliefs, you may want to include a quote or some lines of poetry. They may have had some quotes they particularly liked or a religious belief system to which they adhered. Ask their closest family members and friends if you are having trouble determining an appropriate verse. This is by no means essential, but might be a nice way to pay tribute to them, and a great way to close the eulogy with words of comfort.
If you are planning a funeral and writing a eulogy, you may be in need of some guidance when it comes to memorial planning. Contact Tegeler, and we can help you choose the perfect monument to pay tribute to your loved one. Call (410) 944-0300.