Choosing a Eulogist

A eulogy is a speech in praise of someone who has just died. It is usually presented by someone who was close to the honoree.

As the planner, you will want to invite three or four people to each deliver a eulogy. An ideal eulogist knows the person well and is a practiced speaker. Each speaker should also have a unique perspective on the honoree's life - a work colleague, a childhood friend, college roommate or someone who speaks for the family. They should introduce themselves when they begin and explain their relationship to the honoree. If you have three or four speakers, each one should aim to take about three to five minutes.

Ask for copies of each speaker's remarks ahead of time so that you (or the person you designate) can make sure that two eulogists don't duplicate each other's remarks. This is a great opportunity to gather the inner circle and make sure that the important stories about your honoree are captured, and if a favorite story is missing you can ask a speaker to include it.

A eulogist who is concerned about being too emotional about her loss to stay composed can go to the pulpit or the podium with a back-up person for support and a printed copy of the eulogy to hand off so that the alternate could step in and finish. Some speakers who are concerned about their ability to perform record their remarks and are ready with a good, cued sound system just in case.

For tips on how to prepare a eulogy, visit our Traditions and Etiquette page.

Adapted with permission from Celebrating a Life by Faith Moore, published in 2009 by Stewart, Tabori & Chang

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Celebrating a Life: Planning Memorial Services and Other Creative Remembrances
By Faith Moore
Faith Moore