There’s no doubt that writing a eulogy can be challenging. How do you sum up what a loved one means to you in one speech? How do you set your own grief aside to stand in front of a crowd and deliver a thought-provoking and meaningful eulogy? The good news is that you don’t have to encompass an entire life in one speech. A good eulogy will bring joyful memories to life and inspire the memories and lives of others. Here are six simple steps to get the process started.
Six Steps to Writing a Eulogy
1. Set your goals.
The first step in writing a eulogy is knowing what it is and what it is not. Merriam-Webster defines a eulogy as “a commendatory oration or writing especially in honor of one deceased” or “high praise”. With the goal of giving your loved one “high praise”, think through their best characteristics. What made him or her so unique, so special, so cherished by friends and family? Focusing on what a eulogy is can help direct your speech and guide the process.
2. Develop a theme.
This is not always necessary, but is there a theme to help guide your eulogy? While the overarching theme is that your loved one is a cherished member of your family, a more specific theme can help tie stories and memories together and weave a more focused picture of your loved one. Possible themes include:
- “What I learned from Dad”
- “Courage in the face of adversity”
- “A life of adventure”
- “Who Mom was to me”
If no theme is coming to mind, consider forming your eulogy around a quote or religious text that aligned with the life of your loved one.
3. Share stories and memories.
Brainstorm through the stories and memories that align with your theme. This can be a great way to remember your loved one and even help you through your grief. Call your siblings and closest friends and recount shared stories together. Let this time be a bonding experience, knowing your loved one would enjoy having you all together, laughing, and telling your best memories.
4, Put pen to paper.
There’s no way around it. Now is the time to put pen to paper and form your eulogy. Most people write out the entire eulogy in case they become emotional and forget the direction of their speech. Know what you need to deliver the eulogy. Maybe an outline is helpful, or maybe you need the whole thing written out word for word.
Form the eulogy according to your theme, and even state the theme at the beginning – letting your stories and memories follow. Don’t feel as though you need to share every story and every memory. It’s okay (and often even better!) for a eulogy to be brief.
After you have your eulogy written, practice, practice, practice! Practice in front of a friend, spouse, and the mirror. The more you practice the more comfortable you will be speaking when it comes time to deliver the eulogy. Incorporate your own speaking style and edit a little each time you practice. Minor adjustments made through practice can make a huge impact.
You’ve written and practiced the eulogy you have written. You are confident that your stories and memories will shine the best light on your loved one, helping others recall his or her lasting legacy. On the day of the eulogy, have a bottle of water and tissue at the podium, or wherever you will be delivering the eulogy. Take your time and speak slowly and clearly, pausing where needed to wipe your eyes and sip your water.
Through it all, don’t forget the true meaning of a eulogy – to bring high praise to a loved one who has passed. Trust the process and after the service allow the eulogy to spark conversations with friends and family.
Have you written a eulogy for a loved one? How did you do it? What tips do you have for others writing a eulogy now?