How to Write a Eulogy

Writing and delivering a eulogy

It can be comforting to look back on the life of a loved one, and a thoughtful eulogy is the chance to do this.

Many people find that the thought of speaking on such an emotional occasion is too much for them, so the person taking the service is often asked to speak on behalf of the family. If you would prefer this option, you will need to meet with them in advance so that they can find out everything that they need to know to write a fitting tribute.

If the person leading the service is delivering the eulogy for you, you may wish to ask a friend or family member to read a religious verse or a favourite poem as part of the service.

The eulogy is a chance for everyone to remember your loved one, so you may wish to include some stories from their life, some information about them (where they were born, where they worked, the things they enjoyed and any special achievements or things that they were proud of). It doesn’t need to be too detailed, simply focus on what most people will remember them for.

The speech doesn’t need to be formal and you don’t need to use big words – you’re talking to friends and relatives about someone close to you all, so just speak to them as if you were sharing stories at home.

There’s no need to use someone’s full name – or even their given name – if that’s not what most people called them. It’s fine to refer to Daniel as Danny or to call them by an affectionate and widely used nickname.

At the start of your talk you may feel more comfortable if you explain who you are, especially if some people at the service may not know you. A simple “I’m Gary, Stuart’s brother-in-law” or “My name is Julie, I met Emma at primary school and we were best friends for over fifty years” is fine.

Include things that mattered to the person and which others will associate with them. If they loved football, talk about how they never missed a home game; if they did a lot of work for charity, talk about their fundraising activities; if they spent a lot of time with their family, tell a story about that.

There are no real rules about what you can or can’t talk about – but do remember to be kind and considerate. If your favourite story is near the knuckle or may show others in a bad light, it may be best to save it for a more appropriate occasion where people won’t be hurt by it.

You don’t have to speak for a long time, a few minutes is fine. Don’t worry if you get upset or feel overwhelmed – simply pause, take a few deep breaths and take a moment or two to recover; no one will mind.

If you’re worried that once you start to speak you may not be able to carry on, talk to someone a few days before the service and ask them to be ready to continue for you (the chances are that you won’t need them to, but if can be reassuring to know that someone is ready to help out).