Remembering the deceased with heartfelt words
A eulogy is a speech or presentation given at a funeral or memorial service. It celebrates and pays tribute to the life of the deceased, and can be delivered by a family member, a friend, or the priest, minister or celebrant.
‘Eulogy’ comes from the ancient Greek work ‘eulogia’, which means blessing or praise. A tradition that began in ancient Greece, eulogies are a common practice at funerals and memorial services to this day.
A eulogy is a way to say goodbye to the person who has passed away by sharing special memories, feelings and thoughts. Honouring the deceased in this way can help the grieving process.
What can be included in a eulogy?
Being asked to deliver a eulogy is a great honour, but it can also be quite daunting, especially during such an emotional time. To help ease the burden, we’ve included a general structure for writing and delivering a eulogy below.
Make it personal – Let everyone know why you have been given the honour of delivering the eulogy. Consider questions such as: What’s your relationship with the deceased? How long did you know them? Why were they important to you?
Describe a few key points about the deceased: Who were the important people in their life, such as family or friends? What were some of their major achievements? What were their interests and passions? Was there something in their life that they devoted their time to? What were they proud of? Remember to avoid recounting simple facts – take time to consider what’s most important.
Include some personal anecdotes and special memories or stories. This is a time to share with others at the funeral or memorial service what made that person special, and to highlight the positives at what is an otherwise difficult time.
You can also include a short poem, religious reading or personal motto that you think will resonate with those in attendance, and demonstrate something truly special about the deceased.
Remember the time – Eulogies usually go for 5-10 minutes, so keep in mind that you’re not expected to summarise their entire life. This is as an opportunity for yourself and others to reflect on the most important parts of the person whose memory you’re honouring.
Break it down – You don’t have to dive straight in, so start by making a simple list of what you’d like to include from the advice above. From there you can decide where in your speech you’d like to mention each point and better understand what’s important to include.
Be prepared – Write a rough first draft and take time to consider your wording until it’s clear and follows a logical sequence. Set a timer and practice speaking slowly, it’s always better to be brief than deliver a lengthy speech. Print your speech in large font and make it double sided – this will ensure it’s easy to stay on track and avoid you having to shuffle through multiple pages.
The most important thing to remember when writing and delivering a eulogy is that people aren’t expecting a professional public speaker. It’s okay if you’re not perfect. The best you can do is speak from the heart and express what meant most to you about the deceased.
The information on this website is for general information only and are not (and nor are they intended to be) a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, nor is it used for diagnosis and treatment. You, or anyone you are concerned about, are encouraged to seek professional medical or mental health advice and treatment from suitably qualified medical and clinical practitioners and providers.
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