Whether you want to give a memorable eulogy, or you’ve been asked to give one, it’s a lot of pressure.
You may not have given a “public” speech since high school, and now you’re expected to give one for a loved one you’ve lost, to a room full of those (including yourself) grieving their decades of life?
Thankfully, writing a beautiful eulogy is not that hard.
In fact, on this page I set out a step by step guide on exactly how to write a eulogy, including how to structure it, what to include, how to give it at a funeral or memorial service, and many useful eulogy examples.
All you need is a pen and paper (or computer to type on), a desire to honor the departed’s legacy, and the ability to recall a few memories or accomplishments that best represent them. By the time you reach the end of this page you will have written a meaningful eulogy that truly pays tribute to their memory.
In This Article
What Is a Eulogy?
A eulogy is a type of speech given at a funeral or memorial service to pay tribute to and celebrate the memory of a person who has passed away. It is typically delivered by a family member or a close friend of the deceased, although it may also be delivered by a priest or celebrant.
While it may sound daunting for someone who doesn’t have much experience writing “speeches”, any eulogy that manages to fulfills the four following purposes will be one you should be proud of:
- Reminds funeral attendees of your loved one’s positive impact on their family, friends, community, and world around them,
- Chronicles the person’s life and unique accomplishments,
- Paints a portrait of their best personality traits, the ones that made them special,
- Honors their legacy.
Preparing to Write Your Eulogy
Now you know what they are, you can begin preparing to write a eulogy.
There are two things you want to try and determine at this stage: How long your eulogy will be and the key things you will include in it.
How Long Should Your Eulogy Be?
The exact length you should be aiming for when writing a eulogy depends on how much time you have been allocated in the funeral schedule.
That said, a good eulogy length to aim for is 5 to 10 minutes, or about 600 – 1,200 words. This allows enough time to paint a picture of the person’s character, personality, and accomplishments. Some eulogies can be longer or shorter while still honoring the person’s memory.
As long as it achieves the purposes set out earlier, there is no such thing as a eulogy that is “too short”. You can make a strong impact with few words. There is, however, such a thing as writing a eulogy that is “too long”. So it’s wise to err on the side of short and sweet.
However, I wouldn’t worry too much about that quite yet. Just keep it in mind for the eulogy writing process to come.
Brainstorming: What To Include in Your Eulogy
Before starting to write, you should brainstorm ideas of what you want to include in your eulogy. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
Generally, one to two meaningful anecdotes or fond memories you have of your loved one is a good amount to aim for. If possible, these memories could include other members of the deceased’s family who are in attendance at the funeral. However, don’t let this distract from sharing a good memory that is personal to you and reflects your loved one’s personality and character.
Other things to jot down at this stage to include in a eulogy are:
- Nicknames the deceased was known by
- Details of their relationships, close friends, and children and/or grandchildren (if any)
- Accomplishments and great things they achieved in their lives
- Their work and hobbies
- Thinks they liked (music, interests, traveling, likes and dislikes)
- Anything special or unique to them
- An overall chronology of the person’s life story with as much detail as you wish
If you intend to include a quote, poem, or song lyric in your eulogy, it is a good idea to think about this now too. You may also wish to discuss this part of the process with the deceased’s friends and family – they will likely have thoughts and ideas you haven’t considered.
How to Write a Eulogy In 8 Simple Steps
1. Set Out Your Structure with Sections
Now that you have brainstormed your ideas, you can start forming the structure of your funeral speech. To some people, the idea of writing hundreds of words can be a lot, so being able to break it down into 5 – 7 logical “sections” of much less words can be really helpful.
How you structure it is ultimately up to you, but the following is a good guideline:
Eulogy Sample Outline:
- Life Details
- Memory One
- Memory Two
- Memory Three (Optional)
- Conclusion: Legacy
- Closing Remarks
2. Write Your Introduction
Now it’s time to write your introduction.
If you had a quote or poem that you wanted to include in your eulogy, this can be a good place to put it. It also gives you something to flow from into your “introduction proper”, acting as a springboard.
You could also start with a funny story relating to your lost loved one or their personality. This is a slight deviation from the proposed outline above, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Regardless of exactly how you start, you want to move into:
- Introducing yourself and your relationship to the deceased (briefly, the eulogy is not about you),
- Thanking everyone for coming.
- Paying condolences.
- Introducing any of the nicknames (if any).
Here’s an example:
Meaningful Eulogy Introduction Example:
Good afternoon to everyone. I thank you all on behalf of John’s family for coming, and I am sure he would be happy to know that you are all here today.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jane, John’s wife.
Johnny was the love of my life, my partner in everything, and the rock that held our family together. I am truly sad that he is gone, and as much as I hurt, I express my sympathy for everyone else here who has lost him the same way I have. It is through him that we are all connected.
3. Add The Deceased’s Important Life Details
Moving on from the introduction, you want to paint an overall image of the lost person’s life that captures their essence.
Alongside using descriptive language to express their personality and character (e.g. caring, loving, kind, funny), you can use the key factors that you noted down earlier, including their work, hobbies, achievements, interests, and unique characteristics. You should mention their important family members.
Eulogy Life Details Example
Emily was a caring and loving woman, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t say it like it is! I recall many times in her company when I didn’t know whether to cry, blush, or laugh – and that’s just how she was!
She had a varied life. After being born in our small town of Ruddington, she moved into the big city of London for many years for work. But we know Emily, the city life was never for her, and she ultimately returned to Ruddington with the birth of Tommy and Matt, who she loved so much. I know she’s up there looking down on you two.
4. Include Your Memories and Anecdotes
The next step in writing a eulogy is incorporating the cherished memories, significant life moments, and anecdotes you wrote down earlier. I suggest no more than three anecdotes, but I would personally aim for two.
This is a little bit more freeform than the other steps. There is no set structure I suggest following, just write from the heart. It can be helpful to write as if you are telling the story to a friend.
These stories can be touching, funny, or whatever you want them to be.
As you write, it’s a good idea to be considering themes and common threads in your anecdotes. Do they tell you anything about your lost loved one’s character?
For example, if I had chosen two stories about how my Gran liked taking us on holiday and buying my siblings candy without my parent’s knowledge, a common theme would be the love and adoration my Gran had for her grandchildren, so much that she spoiled us!
Finding themes like this will assist with the next sections of your eulogy.
Eulogy Anecdote Example
I remember when I met Gwen, it was the day JFK was elected. She was ecstatic about that – me? Not so much. But it didn’t matter, because the moment I laid my eyes on her I knew she was the one. And I think she knew too, because there wasn’t a single day we didn’t see each other since then.
And of course, less than a year later we were married and Jack was on the way. It was a hard time explaining that one to her father! Our relationship moved fast but those early days were just as special as anything that came since, driving in my chevrolet, talking until the sun came up. She always knew how to talk – and teach.
5. Conclusion: Set Out Their Legacy
Using all of the content you’ve written for your eulogy so far, you can now bring it together to do what I refer to as “setting out their legacy”.
In effect, you will be using the anecdotes and deceased’s life information to paint the complete picture of the impact they have had on you, their family members and the world. This is like writing a conclusion to a book.
Eulogy Conclusion Example
And the reason I share all these stories is, simply, John was an amazing person, both in his heart and mind. He was an amazing husband, more than I could have ever asked for, and an even better father, raising two beautiful boys who are here with us today.
He lived life to the fullest, whether working, fishing, or taking the dogs for a walk, he was always looking for the best in people and seeing the good in the world.
Despite the challenges that life presented to John, the loss of his parents, the loss of our home in the flooding, he always kept his head held high and never lost his love of life. He was a constant source of inspiration and guidance to those around him and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.
6. Closing Remarks
Finally, you want to include short closing remarks. You have already concluded your eulogy, so this is really just an opportunity to say goodbye to the one you’ve lost, express your own grief, and thank those who have joined you in honoring their legacy again.
Eulogy Closing Remarks Example
Today we say goodbye to a woman who left a lasting impact on everyone she met. Her love and her memories will live on in all of us, and she will forever hold a special place in our hearts. Rest in peace, Emily. Thank you all for joining me in saying goodbye.
7. Practice Your Eulogy With Family Members and Close Friends
You don’t want the first time you read your eulogy out loud to be at the funeral. It’s a good idea to practice a few times to see how it flows, see how long it is, and ensure you are happy with it.
Once you’ve practiced a few times by yourself, it’s a good idea to practice with someone close to you, and someone you feel comfortable sharing it with before the service.
A family member or a good friend will be an option. Ask them for feedback.
If there are any specific parts of your eulogy speech you are unsure of, ask them about those bits specifically. A good question to ask is if you are giving your speech at a good pace – many people talk too fast, especially when they are nervous, so being consciously slow is a good idea.
8. Edit and Finalize
With your feedback, you can go back and edit your eulogy to bring it to exactly where you want it to be for the memorial service.
It’s a good idea to have a final draft of your eulogy a few days before the funeral so you have time to practice the “final version”. Making last minute changes may cause you to stumble on the day – although this is fine, no one is expecting perfection.
Tips to Remember When Writing Your Eulogy
Humor is Fine, But Don’t Go Overboard
Most of the examples of sections of eulogies we’ve given above are quite “dry” and absent of humor, but that doesn’t have to be the case for your eulogy.
Including humorous and funny anecdotes, even jokes, is completely appropriate and can enhance your speech.
However, it’s important to not go overboard. At the end of the day, a funeral is supposed to be a somber event. Jokes are fine, but you are not writing a standup routine.
Writer’s Block? That’s Okay
Writing a eulogy can be hard – there is no denying that. In fact, in part, it’s probably what’s contributed to you being here reading this article on how to write a eulogy.
If you do get writer’s block, or you don’t know where to start, here are a few tips:
- Instead of writing, try recording your thoughts into the recording app on your phone. You can then adapt your voice notes later.
- Talk to your family and friends, ask if they have any ideas to help you with writing your eulogy or if they have any anecdotes about your lost loved one they are willing to share.
- Take a breath, sleep on it, and try again tomorrow. Unless the funeral is today, you have time. If you can’t write right now, try again a different day once you’ve had some more time to think and reflect.
Topics to Avoid: What You Should Not Say In a Eulogy
Your eulogy will be personal to you, and you are likely to know intuitively what is and isn’t appropriate to include in your unique speech. However, if you are unsure, here are some topics that you should typically avoid:
- Grievances you had with the deceased (or that they had with others),
- Character flaws,
- Family drama,
- Negative memories you have of them,
- Their cause of death,
- Anything else that is generally negative.
Preparing for the Day of the Funeral or Memorial
The day before the funeral, sleep well and stay hydrated. You want to be energetic, fit, and healthy for the service.
You can practice your eulogy again a few times the night before, but on the day it’s best to stay in the moment and celebrate the life and memories of your lost loved one with their family and friends.
Before giving your eulogy, remind yourself to speak slowly and with clarity. Your eulogy is not a race. You want to give funeral attendees time to listen to and process your words.
When giving your eulogy, you may cry. This is very common. You are giving an emotional speech, at an emotional event, about someone who was very close to you. For most people, taking a few deep breaths and pausing is enough to recompose themselves. In a worst case scenario, if you have your eulogy written out, someone can take over for you. There is nothing wrong with this if it happens.
Once you’re done, feel proud of yourself. You did it. You wrote, and gave, a beautiful, good eulogy that truly honored the one you lost.
Beyond the examples we’ve included above, here are a few more eulogy examples to inspire and assist you. You may also wish to view our article on the best eulogies ever written.
Eulogy for a Partner
William was an exceptional man. Not only was he a loving husband, but he was also a devoted father, friend, colleague, and more. His ability to make everyone feel loved was his greatest gift.
I met William 40 years ago and it was love at first sight. We would see each other every week at the skate rink. We took things slow at first, he was always a gentleman. But I saw how his infectious laugh and good nature made him instantly likable to everyone he met and knew he was special.
William loved nature, and we would often spend weekends camping in Nottingham forest. When we had our son, James, William was overjoyed. He was a fantastic father and James went to him with anything.
William was a hard worker who was always dedicated to his locksmith business. Whether he was at work or fishing with friends, he always encouraged everyone to live life to the fullest and never stop pushing forward.
William was my soul mate and my inspiration. He supported and loved us all no matter what. Goodbye William. I love you.
Eulogy for a Sibling
I remember when Stacey was born. I was ecstatic. I ran to my teacher at primary school the day after she was born, boasting.
For a few years following that… yeah. She was my little sister. I should have been nicer. But we knew we loved each other.
And as Stacey became an adult my love and care sustained. I saw her meet Tony, get married, get elected, I was so proud of her every step of the way.
Stacey was special. If you needed help, she would be there. I once called her from two states away in a broken down car and she drove overnight to come and save me. That is the kind of woman Stacey grew into.
Stacey may be gone now, but she will never be forgotten. She will be in my heart, and I’m sure the hearts of everyone else here, for the rest of our lives.
Stacey, I wish you could still be here. But I know you’re up there now, looking down on us. And I promise, whenever anyone needs my help, I will be there for them, in your memory.
Thank you all for coming.
Eulogy for a Friend
I met Dave at university. We were in the same class at law school. I remember on the first day he showed up late. I begrudgingly moved seat so he had somewhere to sit, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made, because he was my best mate ever since.
Dave was special. He wasn’t like most friends. He was someone you could share anything with, and I mean anything, no matter what. Relationship problems, family problems, health problems. He was someone who would listen. Even during the busiest of times, exam time, or in the middle of a case, he would drop everything to listen – because he put his friends first.
The world is a worse place without him.
Dave was. Dave is. My best mate. I love you man. Thank you all for coming.
Eulogy for a Parent or Grandparent
Today, we remember Margaret Smith, a woman of grace, courage, and love, and a beloved mother.
After raising three children, she went back to study at 45 years old to become a teacher, something she had always dreamed of. It’s not like she had to work, it’s something she wanted to do. She wanted to be a positive influence on the world. Raising three children wasn’t enough, she wanted to help hundreds.
Mom was selfless. Her entire life, she has lived, happily, for others. Whether it be organizing local events, helping me find an apartment, buying me my first ironing board (and teaching me to use it!) when I moved into the apartment, she was always there.
I couldn’t have asked for a better mom. Someone so full of love. Her advice will forever guide me. I will always hold her dear and cherish her memory. I love you, Mom.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who traditionally gives the eulogy at a funeral?
A eulogy is typically delivered by a family member or a close friend of the deceased, although it may also be delivered by a priest or celebrant. However, this is not set in stone, and it is common for those not so close to the loved one who passed, such as colleagues or grandchildren, to give eulogies as well.
Can there be more than one eulogy?
Yes, it is common for there to be more than one eulogy at a memorial or funeral service. This allows for multiple perspectives to be shared, which can provide a more well-rounded tribute that better honors the memory of the person who has passed away.
If you are only one of multiple people giving a eulogy at a funeral, it may be worth discussing your eulogy with the others to minimize overlap in stories/anecdotes.
How are eulogies different from obituaries?
Eulogies and obituaries are both forms of tribute to a deceased person, but they serve different purposes and have different formats.
A written eulogy is a remembrance speech or tribute typically delivered at a funeral or memorial service. It usually consists of personal reflections, memories, and stories about the deceased, and its purpose is to pay homage and honor the life of the person who has passed away.
An obituary, on the other hand, is a piece of writing that announces a person’s death and provides information about their life, such as their date of birth, education, career, family, and achievements. Obituaries are usually published in newspapers or online and are often more factual and straightforward in nature than eulogies.
The Bottom Line
Eulogy writing can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be hard.
Follow our step by step guide, refer to our examples, discuss with a friend or family member, and you should be able to write a touching, beautiful, tribute, that celebrates your lost loved one.
If you have any further questions about writing a eulogy anything else beyond life, please feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch.