One of the necessary and long-lasting arrangements made following the death of a loved one is preparing and delivering a eulogy. A task typically left up a close family or friends to complete, this tribute speech honors the person who died and is usually part of a funeral, memorial service or Celebration of Life ceremony. These guidelines will show you how to write a eulogy in just a few simple steps.
Types of Eulogies
As the eulogist, your job is to not only deliver the oration, but write the speech as well. You want to make sure the words and tone of the eulogy fit the personality and lifestyle of the person who died. There are several styles or eulogy examples from which to choose:
- Tribute: This is an overview of the deceased individual's life, focusing on personal achievements he or she received. Start with recognitions the deceased person obtained when he or she was young and continue throughout his or her life.
- Personal Recollections/Memoirs: This speaks more to the memories the eulogist has of his or her loved one. While this is easy to prepare, it is typically harder to deliver since it conjures up many feelings and emotions.
- Thematic: This focuses on a topic that exemplifies specific characteristics of the deceased person's life such as humor, music, religion, public service, etc. This type of eulogy is not limited to one theme.
- Chronological: This type of tribute speech highlights your loved one's life, including hobbies, immediate family, education and employment, from childhood through adulthood.
After you've chosen a style of eulogy you want to prepare, jot down notes, talk to friends and family members and get a good understanding the person who died. Then all you need to do is speak from your heart. Make sure you write out the eulogy so you can refer to it during the delivery. It is also a good idea to include a copy of the speech in the funeral program as a keepsake.
Delivering the Eulogy
When presenting the eulogy, it's best to do it in a way that is familiar not only to you, but to the funeral guests as well. The order of a typical eulogy is:
- Opening statements: Introduce yourself and your relationship to the deceased person. Also, thank the guests for attending and express condolences to family members and close friends.
- Special qualities: Typically is the longest part of the speech, this is where you want to talk about your loved one's characteristics, goals, things that happened between the two of you and what you learned from him or her. Personal achievements such as hobbies, life passions, etc. are also part of this section.
- Comforting thoughts: If appropriate, this is a good place to insert the deceased person's favorite poem or quote, although a funeral poem is OK too. You can also read a Bible passage or excerpt from a favorite author.
- Closing: Give a brief summary of your speech and say goodbye to the person who died. Again, thank the guest for attending the service.
It's best to practice your eulogy in front of the mirror, family, friends or the clergy officiating the service. However, it is always easiest to be yourself when delivering the tribute. Since it is an emotional time, don't worry about getting choked up or crying during the presentation. It's only natural and expected.