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How to write a moving eulogy

26 September 2022
A man writing a moving eulogy

Writing and delivering a eulogy can be a daunting task.

Not only are you already mourning the loss of a loved one, but you also need to contend with the pressure of saying the right things, then also getting up in front of a crowd of people you know to deliver it.

So how do you go about it? First, let’s take a look at what a eulogy is.

A eulogy is a five to ten minute speech delivered during a funeral or memorial service that paints a picture of the person who’s passed. It can be sombre and sad, or humorous and uplifting, depending on the circumstances. Either way, it needs to be heartfelt.

There are no hard and fast rules about how to write a eulogy – they can be as different and unique as the person they’re honouring.

You've most likely been asked to deliver the eulogy as you had a meaningful connection with the person who’s passed and have stories and memories to share that will provide comfort to others.

A good place to start is to ask family and friends for some of their favourite experiences with the deceased. Gathering stories from others who knew the deceased well during all stages of their life, can be a helpful starting point. Ideas from different sources can help identify a common theme to tie the eulogy together.

A photograph from above of a person's lap as they sit on a bench at a funeral service. They wear all black and hold a white rose.
Writing a eulogy can be a daunting task, but sharing stories and memories of the deceased in the eulogy can bring comfort to loved ones.

What to include in a eulogy

Eulogies can provide an opportunity for reflection as everyone gathers to honour a loved one's passing, so inlcuding positive things can be very comforting.

Remember, a eulogy doesn't need to be perfect but should try to capture the essence of your loved one’s character and values.

Here are some things you might like to consider when writing a eulogy:

  • Consider significant events that took place during the life of your loved one. These anecdotes could relate to family, career, travel, or any other experience or story.
  • Reflect on your loved-one’s family and close friends and the impacts they had on each other’s lives. Were they a mother, father, grandparent, or a great friend? Did they marry or have children? Did they have a significant connection to their extended family members? Did they have a lifelong best friend?
  • Think about your loved-one’s passions and interests. Did they like to travel? Did they have any hobbies? Did they have an interest in cooking, music, volunteering, or charity work? Were they a member of a group, like a church, community group, or sporting club? What made them laugh?
  • Think about why you in particular have been asked to deliver the eulogy and remember what your loved-one meant to you. You could recount experiences that you shared, triumphs, tragedies, laughs, and fond memories.
A photograph of a person's hands as they write in a notebook by candlelight.
A eulogy doesn't need to be perfect, but should try to capture the essence of your loved one’s character and values.

Delivering the eulogy

Once you've completed your first draft, share it with others who knew your loved one. Ask for their thoughts on whether it captures the essence of the person. Does it have the right tone and length? Does it do justice to the deceased and those who loved them?

Take any feedback and edit the eulogy as required. Next, practice delivering it against a timer and aim for 10 minutes or less.

Reading a speech in front of others can be uncomfortable, so it's important to remember why you've been chosen to deliver the eulogy. Remember to breathe, pace yourself, and speak at a comfortable speed. If you need to pause to gather yourself, do so, take a deep breath, then keep going.

A eulogy doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to be an honest reflection of the person whose life is being remembered. If you’re struggling with the writing process, there are lots of resources available online, or you can even engage the services of a professional writer.

A photograph of a member of the clergy delivering a eulogy at a funeral.
When delivering the eulogy, remember to breathe, pace yourself, and speak at a comfortable speed. If you need to pause to gather yourself, do so.

If the process is causing you grief at an already challenging time, remember to seek help from a trusted person, your GP, or services like Beyond Blue or Griefline.

For support in a safe and calming environment, you can also visit our Centre for Care and Wellbeing. All are welcome.

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