How to Write a Eulogy

Writing and delivering a eulogy

If can be comforting to spend some time during the funeral service looking back at the life of your loved one and sharing memories of them.

Whilst some people prefer to ask someone close to the deceased to deliver the eulogy, others find it easier for the person conducting the service to speak on behalf of the family. There is no right or wrong approach, and it usually comes down to what you feel is most appropriate.

If you would like the person conducting the service to speak about your loved one, you will need to arrange this in advance. They will meet with you to talk about your loved one so that their talk focuses on the things that will mean the most.

You may also wish to ask a family member or friend to read a poem, religious verse or other short reading – this can be something that reflects the personality of your loved one or a piece that they particularly liked.

If you’re giving the eulogy and are not sure that everyone will know who you are, you might like to start by introducing yourself, something as simple as “I’m Jo, Susan’s sister” will be fine.

Your speech doesn’t need to be long or full of fancy words – a short speech from the heart usually means the most. Talk about the person as if you were telling a friend about them; talk about what they did, what they liked, things they were proud of. If they loved sports, talk about the fact they never missed a match or the time they scored the try that clinched the final; if they did a lot for the community, tell a story about what they did and the difference they made; if they were a bit of a joker, share one of their jokes or your memories of a prank they played.

Remember, that you don’t have to be too formal and that it’s OK to use the name that people are most likely to know the deceased by. So if they were called Robert, but were always known as Bob, talk about Bob, or if they had a nickname that everyone knew them by, use that when you talk about them.

The only rule that you really should stick to when delivering a eulogy is to make sure it doesn’t upset or hurt anyone. Focus on the happier memories and the things that people will want to remember. Bear in mind that older friends and relatives may have different views and values to you and what may be a funny story to you might not seem appropriate to them.

Some people find it reassuring to arrange to have someone ready to step in and speak for them – or continue on their behalf – if they think that they may feel overwhelmed on the day. Don’t be embarrassed about asking someone to be ready to help you in this way, the chances are that you won’t need them to step in, but you may feel better knowing that they are there for you.