This is a guest post from Aubrey of Eulogies By Aubrey.
Hi! I'm Aubrey, and I am a professional writer who specializes in writing eulogies.
Here is my comprehensive guide on how to write a eulogy. Below, I've laid out a detailed 11-step writing process for you to use in writing a beautiful eulogy for your loved one.
When completed, your eulogy should take you anywhere from 6 to 8 minutes to deliver, and will contain approximately 1,000 words (but there is no rule that says it has to, of course).
How to Write a Eulogy
- Find your tone
- Choose a theme
- Be inspired by other eulogies
- Write the intro
- Briefly sketch their life story
- Write down some favorite memories & stories
- Organize the material
- Say thanks (to those who have provided help & comfort)
- Say goodbye (to your loved one)
- Get feedback
- Find your comfort zone
Read on to learn the how and why for each step.
1. Choose the Tone & Ambiance
Consider the tone you wish to portray. I am not referring to tone of voice (although you’ll want to keep that in check). I’m talking about the ambiance you wish to reflect in your eulogy.
Ambiance refers to the eulogy's mood, character, or atmosphere. What do you want your listeners to feel? If joyfulness, add in a bit of appropriate humor. If respectfulness, keep your tone serious. If religious…you get the idea.
Deciding on the tone of your eulogy is a vital first step because it will provide the foundation of your writing process.
2. Consider a Theme
Think about choosing a theme. This step is not required to write your eulogy, but it can help you stick with the flow and aid in providing a more robust picture of your loved one.
For example, was Grandma an avid gardener? Why not use your eulogy to illustrate this? You could open with the popular funeral poem “ God’s Garden,” elaborate on Grandma’s hobby, and then close with something along the lines of “I know she is in a better place now, helping to curate the everlasting gardens of heaven.”
3. Find Inspiration from Other Eulogies
Look up examples of other eulogies. This can help you get an idea of how to write yours. You can search for famous eulogies, examples of religious or secular, eulogies for children, and so on.
See here for a few of my own examples.
Get in touch with family and friends, who could help you come up with some ideas for your writing. Some of them may have given eulogies themselves once or twice, too, and may be able to offer you experienced support.
4. Write the Introduction
It’s time to write! First, introduce yourself. Most of your listeners will know who you are, but it’s still a good idea to state your name and your relationship to the deceased.
5. (Briefly) Sketch Their Life Story
Provide a brief biography of your loved one. Keep it short, but cover all the bases. State their birthday and place of birth, parents, grandparents and siblings, their hometown, their alma mater, when and where they were married, and their date of death if appropriate.
This brief biographical sketch will serve as an introduction to the main part of the eulogy.
6. Write Down Your Favorite Stories & Memories
Write down any favorite stories and memories you have of your loved one. This portion of your writing will be the “main” part of your speech, the part that provides the much fuller picture of who your loved one was and the legacy they leave behind.
For now, don't worry about how this will all fit together. Just start jotting down some of the best stories. These can be funny, poignant, quirky, meaningful, or all of the above.
Ask friends and family if they have any memories or stories that they would like for you to share, as well. Ask yourself: Who was my loved one? What were their dreams? What did they like to do for fun? Who were they closest to? What did they accomplish in life? What were they most proud of? What made them them?
If you are having trouble getting started on a new paragraph, a trick is to start with a question and then answer it. For example, “Who exactly was my uncle? What made him tick?” This approach allows you more room to go with the flow and also keeps the attention of your audience, who will want to know your answer.
7. Organize Your Material
Organize everything you’ve written. This step is easier said than done, and many people struggle to do it properly.
But this step doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Once you have written down all your thoughts, stories, and memories (completed step 6), simply put them all in chronological order. Not only will doing this help you keep track of where you are as you are speaking, it will also help your audience stay with you.
8. Say Thanks
Remember to say thank you. This step might be the most obvious on this list, but it can be easy to forget when you are in the rough draft stages of your eulogy. There are a lot of people who deserve to be thanked!
Toward the end of your speech, write in a few messages of gratitude to those who came to the funeral and who’ve shown support to you and your family during this difficult time. Don’t forget to include any communities that have cared for your family or loved one too, such as a church, funeral home, or hospice center.
9. Say Goodbye
Tell your loved one goodbye. This is not the final step on our detailed list, but it is the last part of your eulogy you’ll need to write. Keep in mind that this will probably be the most emotional portion of your speech, so prepare yourself if needed with extra practice.
10. Get Feedback on Your Written Eulogy
After you’ve written your eulogy, get feedback on it. Ask your family and friends to read over your speech and let you know their thoughts. It’s a good idea to have someone proofread it too, to weed out any irregularities or inconsistencies that you may have not noticed.
If you have a fear of public speaking or are worried that your nerves will be front and center on the day of the funeral, remember that practice makes perfect. Practice in front of a mirror, or stand in front of a few people you trust and say your speech as many times as needed before you start to feel more comfortable.
11. Find Your Voice & Stay in Your Comfort Zone
You do you! You know yourself and your comfort levels. It’s best, when writing and in giving a eulogy, to stay within them.
If you are more comfortable looking down and reading from your notes the entire time, do that. This is not speech class and no one is going to grade your level of eye contact. If you’ll have no problem making eye contact, you may prefer to speak from memory or brief notes. And if it is more your thing to improvise on the spot without any notes at all, more power to you!
Many people who are tasked with giving a eulogy are afraid of getting emotional during it. I am here to tell you that crying, especially at a funeral, is perfectly okay. No one is going to judge you for crying, on today of all days.
You do you.
Eulogy Writing Service
Sometimes, the best way for you to "do you" is to not overstress and overthink it. You probably have 87 different things on your to-do list regarding family gatherings, funeral arrangements, work, paperwork, and more.
If you don't have the time to write the eulogy, or if it simply feels too overwhelming, don't worry. That's what I do.
I can write the eulogy for you - using your tone, perspective, stories, and background information - and can deliver a completed 6-8 minute eulogy to you within a few days (or even a day, if you're really pressed for time).
See my website for more information.
- Eulogy Examples
- How to Deliver a Eulogy Without Crying
- One simple tip to save (about) $100 on funeral expenses