Have you been asked to write a eulogy? And deliver it at the funeral? You might have questions about how to get it right. Here are some tips on writing a eulogy to help you give a heart-warming funeral speech.
What is a eulogy?
A eulogy is a speech that’s given at a funeral or memorial service. It’s a tribute to someone who’s passed away and a way to share memories of them. It’s an opportunity to look back at their life and talk about what made them unique. It’s also called a funeral speech.
A speech at a funeral is called a eulogy because when the word is broken down it actually means praise. The Greek roots of the word eulogy are eu which means good and logos which means speech. So when you are delivering a eulogy you’re praising the person who’s died, and speaking about the good they have done in their life.
Who reads the eulogy at a funeral?
Typically the eulogy at a funeral is given by someone who was close to the person who died. For example, children might give a eulogy at a parent’s funeral. But a eulogy can be delivered by family or friends of the person who passed away. If those closest to the person think reading the eulogy will be too much for them the celebrant (the person leading the service) can read it for them instead.
How to write a eulogy
Knowing how to write a eulogy won’t necessarily come naturally. It may feel like a big responsibility. But remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect, or formal if that doesn’t feel right. When you’re planning what to put in a eulogy keep in mind that it doesn’t have to follow a set structure or have a sad tone. You can adapt it to reflect the personality of the person who passed away and add a little humour if you think it’s appropriate.
Below is a short video on how to write a eulogy. It’ll give you some ideas about how to write a funeral speech that feels right.
Writing a eulogy step by step
If you’re writing a eulogy for a loved one here’s one way of approaching it. It’ll help you take it step by step to make things a little easier.
It’s a good idea to think about the eulogy in different sections (start, middle and ending) and then focus on writing each one in turn. You could write one section a day if you’re finding it difficult to sit down and write the whole eulogy at once. Before you start writing anything at all, you might like to chat to other friends and family members to hear their memories too. There might be specific things they’d like you to mention in the funeral speech.
How to start a eulogy
How do you start off a eulogy? It can feel like the hardest part. One easy way to begin is with a story about the person who’s died. You could talk about how you met them or share a story that shows the kind of person they were. To find some inspiration, try writing down some of your favourite stories about them. They can be touching, funny, emotional or inspiring.
Here are a few things you could think about to get started:
- The first time I met them…
- The thing everyone always said about them…
- The last time I saw them they said…
- The thing I will always remember about them…
What to say in a eulogy
Keeping to a basic eulogy structure will make it easier for you to say, and easier for people to follow. Try to have 3-5 main points, then give yourself 1-2 minutes to say each point.
Things you could include in your eulogy:
- Stories that show the personality and best qualities of the person
- Share the person’s favourite poem or song lyrics
- Share something that the person said, and that you will always remember
- Talk about their favourite interests or hobbies
- Celebrate the biggest achievements in their life
Rather than simply writing a funeral speech that tells the person’s life in order, consider basing the eulogy around the stories and moments that stand out.
How to end a eulogy
It’s best to end your funeral speech with something memorable and meaningful. You could end with an uplifting quote from the person who has died, or you could finish with a final story. You could even end with a sentence about what you think the person would say to everyone if they were still here. Alternatively, you could finish with a poem or song.
What makes a good eulogy?
Ultimately it doesn’t matter which stories or quotes you choose to put in the eulogy. And it doesn’t matter if you choose to keep things formal or go with a lighter tone. As long as your funeral speech is respectful and celebrates the person who passed away everyone else in the room will be grateful for it. If you’re still not sure where to start and need more eulogy ideas our hub of poems, songs and readings might help.
How long should a eulogy be?
Eulogies are usually quite short. Try to write a speech that lasts between 5 and 10 minutes, as a guide. But it’s important to think about how long you feel comfortable speaking for. If you only want to speak for a couple of minutes, that’s fine too.
Tips for speaking at a funeral
Practising how to deliver a eulogy is important too. It’ll help you feel more confident about speaking at the funeral and give you the time you need to fully prepare.
- Practise the funeral speech as much as you can. Ask someone to listen to you read through the eulogy and give you advice about where you need to slow down or speak more clearly.
- Use something to help you remember your words. You may prefer to have your funeral speech written down word-for-word. Others prefer short prompts or cue cards.
- Don’t worry about faltering. Nobody expects you to get through a eulogy without crying. You may stumble over sentences, you may become upset. No need to apologise – just take a deep breath and move on when you can.
- Bring a copy of your funeral speech written out in full. Even if you don’t plan to use it. That way, if you don’t feel you can deliver the speech on the day, you can ask someone else to read it for you.
In the video below, funeral celebrants Alison Regan, Lyndsey Conquest, Karen Nutton, and Stuart Atherton offer their tips for speaking at a funeral:
What if you can’t deliver the eulogy?
If you can’t face delivering a eulogy at the funeral, that’s perfectly OK. You can ask a friend or the person leading the funeral to read your speech for you. They can also help you to write it, if you’re finding that difficult too. Hopefully our eulogy ideas have helped you understand how to write a funeral speech. You’ll find more tips and advice about planning or going to a funeral in our advice hub.
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