Writing a Eulogy
If you've been asked to give a eulogy or funeral speech at a
service, you can accept or decline. You may be too upset to do it.
Too nervous. Just be honest with the family and explain why you
don't want to detract from what's most important: hearing about the
life of the person you are honoring.
If you accept the task, focus yourself before you begin. Keep in
mind that the average eulogy is about seven to 10 minutes long. The
Emily Post® Institute advises
that five minutes is the perfect length. If more than one eulogy is
to be delivered, keep yours even shorter - but no less than two
When writing the eulogy, remember:
- Ask others to share their memories of the deceased with
- Ask the family if there is anything they want mentioned - or
- Include one or two personal stories; choose a lighthearted
story that will make those present smile and remember them in a
positive light; maybe mention their favorite hobbies and pastimes.
Humor can be useful - but use with caution and know your audience.
Some people are offended with any humor at a funeral.
- Include a poem, quote, or anything else that reflects their
life or their beliefs.
- List the deceased's accomplishments, maybe the personal
difference they made in your life. You may want to include what
kind of family person they were; or friend. What kind of work did
he or she do?
- Be respectful and affectionate.
- Acknowledge the family members and their loss.
- End on a high note - mention the deceased's love for his family
or the legacy he left behind.
Remember to practice your speech - maybe even in front of
others. Running through your eulogy could help ease your
Giving the Eulogy
Families often decide who, besides a clergyman, will give a
eulogy. A son or daughter may say a few words about their parent. A
brother, sister, or best friend may share their stories. There are
no rules about who or how many people can speak. If more than one
person will speak, the family may prepare a sheet showing the order
of speakers so that everyone knows when to approach the pulpit or
When delivering your speech:
- Try to maintain a conversational tone
- Take your time, pause when you need to, and take deep breaths
- If you choke up while speaking, don't try to continue. If you
cannot compose yourself, just say, "I'm sorry" and step down. Your
fellow mourners will understand.