A eulogy is a speech that is given at a memorial or funeral service and celebrates the life of someone who has died. But what sorts of things should you include and how can you make it a moving and memorable speech?
The planning stage
It’s really important that you plan a eulogy well and do your research properly.
Start by writing lists of things you may want to include: memories, achievements and general thoughts. You may need some help filling in the gaps, so put down a list of things to check with close friends and family. It may also be that the person who has passed away has left some information for you to talk about in the event of their death.
Make sure you get dates, names and significant information spot-on. It’s also a good idea to acknowledge close family members and friends who have been left behind.
Structuring a eulogy
Aim for a eulogy that is around 5 to 20 minutes in length and read it out in full before the day.
Start by talking about the person’s life history: the date they were born, where they were brought up, what they studied, any special career moments, achievements and memories. Or you may prefer to begin by talking about a particular memory you have or that person – where you first met, what you had most in common or respected the most about them.
You can then end the eulogy on a more sentimental note by talking about what you will miss about them.
Things to avoid
Writing a eulogy can be hugely therapeutic, but it needs to make sense. So avoid being vague or repetitive.
Funerals are sad, intense and emotional days, but they can also be uplifting and allow people to remember the good times, as well as the bad. The person who has died may have had some troubles that you can touch on, but you can always bring it back to the good things that happened as a result or how they managed to overcome any difficulties.
No one expects a eulogy speech to be flawless and you are bound to be nervous when speaking to a packed room. Remind yourself that everyone is there to support you and people will be compassionate and understanding if you falter as you speak. A eulogy can be as entertaining as it can be moving, so don’t be afraid to speak about things that will make people laugh.
You may find that tears will flow, so allow yourself time to pause and to cry if you need to. If you struggle to speak because you can see people who are visibly upset then keep your head down and focus on the paper in front of you or something else in your eye line.
This isn’t the time to present a perfectly put-together speech – it’s a chance for you to speak from the heart and to honour that person as best as you can.