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How to give a good funeral speech: Writing a eulogy

April 26, 2022

Writing a eulogy is a traditional way to say goodbye when a loved one dies. Also known as a funeral speech, a eulogy is given at a funeral or memorial service by someone who was close to the deceased to commemorate their life. This could be a child, best friend, mother or father.

There are no rules to what you can and can’t say in a funeral speech. A eulogy is unique to the person it’s written about, but writing one can leave those grieving feeling lost for words. We have some advice on how to make writing a funeral speech feel less daunting for those who want to remember and honour their loved one’s life.

Decide on the tone of your funeral speech

Traditional eulogies are personal, meaningful and heartfelt. They vary in tone, but they tend to be conversational to ensure that everyone attending the funeral or memorial service can understand and relate to the words being said.

Whether you choose to adopt an uplifting tone with a bit of light humour or prefer to keep the eulogy sombre and serious is entirely up to you. It also depends on the relationship you shared with the deceased.

When writing your eulogy, remember to keep in mind your audience. The last thing you’d want to do is offend or upset the mourners attending the funeral with an unsuitable tone.

Ask family and friends for their memories

Before you sit down to write your eulogy, ask family and friends of the deceased for their recollections. This will bring comfort to them during the funeral and may jog some memories they had long forgotten about, too. Brainstorming with loved ones will also give you an idea of which memories to focus on throughout your speech.

What to include in a eulogy

Perhaps one of the hardest things about writing a funeral speech is knowing what to include about your loved one’s life. While this will vary from person to person depending on their history, it’s traditional to focus on their achievements alongside a brief timeline of their life. To help get you started, you might like to talk about:

  • Where the deceased was born
  • The names of their parents and siblings
  • Nicknames and a brief background behind them
  • An overview of their childhood, including schools attended
  • Academic qualifications and achievements
  • Details of military service
  • Marriages, divorces, children and grandchildren
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Interesting stories
  • Detail about their personality and preferences

Introduce yourself

Before writing the main bulk of the eulogy, remember to introduce yourself. Not all mourners at the funeral will know who you are, so offer a couple of lines of context about who the deceased was to you. This will help provide background for the rest of the eulogy.

Thank people for attending

To help soothe your nerves and ease your way into the eulogy, thank everyone for taking the time out of their day to come to the funeral service. You can also use this section to express your heartfelt condolences before you start reading the rest of the eulogy. This may be the hardest part of the funeral speech, so remember to bring tissues to the front of the room with you in case you need them.

Share memories of the deceased

Many people like to dedicate the main bulk of their eulogy to sharing fond memories of the deceased. You can make your speech as personal as you’d like it to be, but focusing on stories about the deceased and the qualities that made them special is a fitting way to say goodbye. Funerals don’t have to be sombre – they can be a celebration of life, so try to maintain a positive tone throughout this section to help lift the spirits of those in attendance.

Close the eulogy with comforting words

When closing the eulogy, say your final goodbye and finish by offering some words of comfort to the other mourners. You may want to end with your loved one’s favourite poem, quote or saying. Then, conclude your speech with a final goodbye.

Keep your speech short and sweet

Try to keep your eulogy around 3-5 minutes long. This is the perfect length to keep the audience’s attention while allowing enough time to delve into detail about the deceased’s life. Speak to the person organising the funeral about how long you have and time yourself to ensure you stick to the time limit.

If you need advice about funeral planning or a friendly ear to talk to, we’re here for you. Nothing is too much trouble, so come and speak to our friendly and knowledgeable team for more information.

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