How to Write a Eulogy


Caregivers who spend a significant amount of time taking care of an elderly loved one may be called upon to deliver the eulogy at that person's funeral or memorial service.

Being selected to deliver a loved one's memorial blessing is a huge honor and a huge responsibility. Here are some guidelines for writing a eulogy:

  1. Consider the responsibility.
    If someone suggests that you deliver a eulogy, really think about whether you are prepared to take on such an important task. It's important to honestly ask yourself whether you can handle getting up in front of your departed loved one's family and friends to give a speech. There are a lot of complicated emotions that surround the death of someone you've been caring for, and there's no shame in declining an offer to give their eulogy.
  2. Take your time.
    Don't let a person's eulogy get put on the back burner by other funerary preparations. A good speech takes time to craft, and you will only have a few days at most to polish it. If you find yourself with too much to do in the days leading up to a loved one's memorial, ask for help from family and friends. Allowing them to share the load will serve the dual purpose of allowing them to feel included, while giving you more time to focus on your loved one's eulogy.
  3. Pick a theme.
    Picking a theme for your oration will help give it structure and focus. You may choose to focus on a person's love for music, collecting stamps, or fixing old cars. Or, you could stress their impact on their family, their business, or projects they may have started. The possibilities are as unique as the person you are honoring. If you get stuck, ask the family or friends of the deceased if they have any good ideas for potential stories or themes.
  4. Plan, Polish, Practice.
    After you've chosen a theme, you may want to write up a brief outline of your speech. An outline will help you get your thoughts organized, making the writing process faster and easier. Once you've written your address, make sure to go back over it with a fine-toothed comb. Read it aloud in front of a mirror or to other family or friends to make sure it makes sense and captures the essence of what you're trying to convey. Another good reason to practice is to make sure that you can get through the eulogy without becoming too emotional. Showing some emotion is fine and likely unavoidable in many circumstances, but you want to make sure that the emotion doesn't overwhelm you to the point that you can't complete your speech.
  5. Lighten it up.
    Just because you're speaking at a funeral doesn't mean that you have to stick solely to serious topics. In fact, it's often a good idea to insert some humorous anecdotes into your address. A good mix of respectful and reverent will ensure that you're honoring your loved one's memory while celebrating their life.
  6. Check your facts.
    Consult with the friends and family members of the deceased if you are unsure about a certain date or anecdote you wish to use in your eulogy. Also, avoid too much exaggeration when you're telling a story, you don't want incorrect information to mar an otherwise good address.
  7. Recruit backup.
    Despite your best efforts, you may become too emotional to deliver your eulogy as planned on the day of the funeral. Make sure that you have backup speakers waiting in the wings to share anecdotes or thoughts on the deceased person. This will take some of the pressure off of you and may help you remain calmer.
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I have written and delivered 2 eulogies. One for a dear friend of many years and another for an aunt. It took me about 5 days of writing and revising to come up with the finished projects. I asked family members for a few of their favorite memories of the individuals. I incorporated my own thoughts with those of family members. Both individuals were wonderful, loving people, so I had some great material to work with. Both writing sessions were quite emotional for me, but I persevered and came up with eulogies that honored these people. Giving the eulogies the day of the memorial services was not difficult. I had worked through my own emotions during the writing process. Having practiced numerous times, my delivery was amost flawless. I was honored to have been asked to do this and was grateful for the appreciative responses from people attending the services.
This is not an easy thing to do. If you can write well and are a fairly good public speaker, don't be afraid to do this for someone. It was a very humbling, enriching experience for me.
Speak from the heart darn it. This isn't a performance.
My mom was less than kind. Now I am her caregiver. It hasn't been easy. She cashed in her life insurance, so her burial will be up to me. Her family has as little to do with her as possible. As her Alzheimer's progresses she doesn't get any nicer.
This was never what I envisioned to be doing.