Many of us don’t know how to write a eulogy or give a eulogy when the request arises. Giving a eulogy is an opportunity to reflect on the life of someone you knew and loved. Giving a eulogy helps others come to terms with the loss and think of the deceased in positive ways. Often, eulogies become a celebration of a person’s life, highlighting the achievements and characteristics that made them unique.
Writing a eulogy is hard; giving a eulogy can be even harder. Where do you begin when celebrating someone’s life? What needs to be said? What is too personal? Here are some tips and proper etiquette for writing a thoughtful eulogy:
Tips for writing a eulogy
Briefer is often better: Write a page or two, including some stories and memories. There is no time limit, but keep in mind that this is just one part of the service or gathering.
Share happy stories: A eulogy is more than a list of great qualities of the deceased. It’s also a chance to remember and share stories of their life with friends and family members. Avoid the negative tales, unless you can spin them with a positive outcome or message.
Begin with a light moment: You may be exceptionally emotional on the day you deliver the eulogy, so it might be good to start with a funny or lighthearted story. Otherwise, you may end up in tears before you reach the end of the first paragraph (that’s OK).
End with a positive outlook: The end of a eulogy is a great time to include one final memory to leave your audience with. It is also an opportunity for you to add some words of encouragement to those who are grieving over the loss.
Tips for giving a eulogy
Introduce yourself: Even if most of the people attending know you, it is a good idea to mention your name and how you knew the deceased.
Set the appropriate tone for your eulogy: If you are uncomfortable sharing your grief, you may consider a lighter tone with humorous stories. Alternately, you may prefer to keep the feeling somber and serious. Remember, a eulogy is about the deceased, but also their relationship with you and others. Think also of the tone they would prefer.
Read the room: While the tone that you set has to feel right for you, don’t forget to consider who will be listening. For example, inside jokes may fall flat, and sharing risqué encounters may not be appropriate for all in attendance.
Use personalized examples: If you discuss a particular quality of the deceased, it will resonate more if you include a personal story showing that quality. Remember, your personal portrayal may also be a cherished memory for family and friends.
Get feedback before the day of: Once you’ve crafted your eulogy, it is a good idea to practice it in front of others and allow them to share what they think.
A eulogy is something special, and it is truly an honor to be asked to deliver one. Keep in mind that you were most likely selected because you were viewed as a person who had a special relationship with the deceased and can now offer unique insights into who they were, what was important to them, and how they lived.