Giving a meaningful, moving eulogy can be a nerve-wracking situation for even the most accomplished public speaker, but it need not be. How can you summarize somebody’s life in a few short minutes, while being both somber and funny at the same time? Writing and delivering a eulogy is a therapeutic tool to help deal with your grief, and being chosen to give a eulogy is an honor and should be treated that way.
It is very important to abide by the rules, traditions and expectations of the house of worship where the eulogy is to take place. This will avoid potentially embarrassing situations. Some religions and churches do not include eulogies as part of the service. In that case, it may be more appropriate to have a eulogy in the funeral home or cemetery, if possible. You will need to recognize any time constraints (a good rule of thumb is less than 5 minutes) and limits on the number of people giving the eulogy (usually one person).
Here are some tips for writing and delivering an eloquent and memorable eulogy.
- Gather information. Talk with family members, close friends and co-workers to get important information on the deceased. Some important information to include in the eulogy is the persons family and other close relationships, their education/career, hobbies or special interests, places the person lived or traveled too, and any special accomplishments they had.
- Organize your thoughts. Jot down your ideas by whatever means are most comfortable and familiar to you. Create an outline of your speech, and fill in the information that you gathered about the person.
- Write it down. This is not a toast at a wedding where you can make off the cuff remarks, and you should not ad lib a eulogy. Writing it all down allows you to include and remember every detail you wanted in your eulogy. When you bring a copy your eulogy to the podium make sure it is easy to read, print it out in a large font, or if it hand-written leave a few spaces between the lines. Keep in mind your time constraints, it’s best to keep things on the short side, especially if there are other speakers.
- Review and Revise. Your first draft will not be the last. When you think you are done, sleep on it and look it over in the morning when it is fresh again, that will be the time to make any necessary revisions.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Read over your eulogy several times in order to become familiar with it. Practice in front of a mirror, read it over to some friends or family and have them give you feedback. Become familiar with your speech so you can recite it without making it look like you’re reading from a script. The more you practice the more comfortable you will be.
- Make them laugh, but be respectful. A funeral is not a roast, however there is room for humor in your eulogy. Fondly remember a story about the person that everyone can relate too. Keep it appropriate, there will be children and the elderly there that may not share the same sense of humor. Laughter is truly the best medicine, and some well placed humor will help people cope, and will bring back fond memories of the deceased.
- Don’t be afraid to show emotion. Funerals are an extremely emotional event, nobody expects you not to shed a few tears. However, if you feel that you will be too strongly overcome by your emotions, have a back-up plan in place where someone you trust can deliver the eulogy for you. Give them a copy well in advance if you feel this could be an issue.
Writing an obituary is a difficult and emotional task. First, you will need to gather information from family and friends of the deceased about their childhood, education, career and hobbies and interests. As well, speak to the funeral home to receive any important information on the date, time and location of any funeral service, or other funeral related events. Using the template will help make the process easier and will ensure you write a properly structured obituary.
Remember most newspapers charge by the line and this template is good for getting the all the information necessary in fewer lines. However, this template is not written in stone. You can make any adjustments you feel necessary.
Of (NEIGHBORHOOD) on (DATE), age ____.
Beloved (husband/wife) of (NAME); mother/father of ___________________________________;
grandmother/grandfather of ____________; great-grandmother/grandfather of____________; great-
great-grandmother/grandfather of____________; son/daughter of _____________________;
sister/brother of ______________; also survived by nieces and nephews. (CAREER, HOBBIES,
INTERESTS, ACCOMPLISHMENTS) (SERVICE DETAILS INCLUDING TIMES AND DAYS) In lieu of
flowers, the family suggests____________. (this is optional) Condolences may be expressed at
Please note the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette charges (as of January 1, 2020)
$110.00 for the first 5 lines, then $12.00 per additional line, (Thursday and Friday print editions).
Second daily print edition appearance at 50% off.
Sunday print edition is $135.00 for the first 5 lines, then $16.00 per additional line.
Digital versions on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday is a flat fee of $130.00 per day or $100.00 when combined with a print notice.
A line typically contains approximately 60 characters including spaces and punctuation.
To illustrate, the following line contains 60 characters:
Peacefully on Tuesday, March 31, 2019, age 91, of Bloomfield