How to Write a Eulogy

How to Write a Eulogy

No matter how often you’ve written eulogies, it’s never the same each time you sit down to write one. It gets even harder when the deceased is someone who personally impacted your life. The memories shared, their enriching legacy and sometimes the tragic end of their lives can never be truly captured in words. This guide will give you the template and means with which you can put the grief into words and communicate what you feel.

I. Narrow Your List. There are many things your loved one did. Pick two that most represent who they were and the impact they had on you. Let people remember them for a few significant achievements rather than a laundry list of issues. Most people no matter how varied their interests in life are, there are a few things that they were truly passionate about. Narrow down to those.

II. Build a Narrative. Choose the quality, whether it’s love, kindness, generosity or firmness and focus on it. Once you narrow down on the virtue, anchor it in a story. People remember stories far much more than they remember lists. A story also humanizes the deceased especially if they were popular figures or personalities. A story also puts their pains, triumphs, and struggles within a context. The story could be funny, a regular habit, a turning point or a big event.

III. Enrich it with details. If the deceased liked a particular item, often used a certain phrase or had a certain habit then you can bring it up. Nothing makes the dead more relatable than highlighting a quirk, habit or routine that was unique to them. Make a mention of the detail and make it a uniquely identifying issue for the deceased. An excellent choice of detail will make the deceased person come alive as it draws the mourner’s attention to a timeless reality.

IV. Leave Out Smaller Facts. Given that you’ve made your decision on how you want to portray the deceased make sure all the facts and narratives emphasize that quality, virtue or habit. Stay focused on facts, stories, habits, memories that anchor the image of the deceased that you want to portray. Read and reread the story. Whatever doesn’t fit in with the greater narrative, cut it. The truth is that this might mean you might have to leave out an excellent story or incident

V. Pick a Quote. Sometimes a passage from a favourite piece of literature or a verse from the Bible can come in handy at the beggining or the end of a eulogy. You can pick a great quote that succinctly captures the essence of the life story. You can also choose a verse or quote that summarizes the life story or creates a sense of closure. When it comes to quotes, you have an endless choice of thousands available online.

VI. Pick a Take Away. Most often at the point of death, many people want to believe that the spirit of the dead will live on through them. This could be literal or metaphorical. It could be best captured in the legacy and values that they embodied. Therefore find a way to encourage the grieving on how the life of the departed will continue to mean something long after they are gone. Make sure it a simple, clear and relatable lesson for the attendees.

VI. Timing is Key. A good eulogy shouldn’t last more than 3 to five minutes. You can possibly do an extra minute or two of off-the-cuff remarks or to paraphrase your eulogy. Too short and people won’t be able to relate and mull over it. If it’s too long, you’ll lose people’s concentration and attention. Make sure everything can fit within such a short time frame and stick to what you wrote.

VII. Have a Run Through. After you’ve drafted it, read it out to someone you trust. It’s often hard to know how we sound. It will protect you from inadvertently offending or embarrassing the deceased’s family. Try to keep calm but in the process don’t stifle your emotions. It’s hard. It’s difficult. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel what you feel.

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