How to Write a Eulogy

by ianmckenzie on May 9, 2014

I attended a funeral some time ago for a woman who had lived a good, long life. There were two eulogies given, one by a long-time friend and the other from a family member. It was interesting to hear the similar themes that came out as they spoke of someone who had played an important part in their lives.

I’ve only ever given one eulogy. Deaths of family and friends have been few and far between. If called upon to give a eulogy, here is a simple template I would use.

  • Introduce yourself and your connection to the deceased. “For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Ian and Mavis was my aunt.”
  • Briefly summarize the life of the deceased:
    • When they were born
    • Where they were born
    • Growing up
    • Marriage, family, etc
  • Briefly summarize the accomplishments of the deceased:
    • Education
    • Skills
    • Career
    • Hobbies
  • Share happy memories. Mix in tasteful humorous memories, but be careful. Only talk about the good times if the final years have been sad. For example, cite a characteristic expression or an activity that everyone will recognize.
  • Talk about something(s) you learned from this person:
    • Their motivation or passion
    • How they changed someone’s life
  • Tell why you’ll always remember the person.
  • End with a final goodbye.

Keep it flowing. A eulogy should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have one theme. It shouldn’t jump around from topic to topic, but rather stay tightly focused. In other words, while the occasion is sad, a eulogy is still a speech. Treat it like one.

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