Eulogies and Obituaries
How can you summarize a loved one’s life in a few short minutes? We’ve compiled a few suggestions below to get you started. Being selected to give a eulogy is an honor, and writing and delivering it can be an effective, therapeutic tool to help deal with grief. Here are some tips for writing and delivering an eloquent and memorable eulogy.
- Gather information. Talk with family members, close friends, and co-workers to gather important information, including details about a loved one’s relationships, education/career, hobbies or special interests, places the person lived or visited, and any special accomplishments.
- Organize your thoughts. Jot down your ideas to create an outline, then fill in details as they come.
- Write it down. This is not a toast at a wedding where you can ad lib or make off-the-cuff remarks. Writing a transcript allows you to include and remember every detail you wanted in your eulogy. When you bring a copy of your eulogy to the podium, make sure it is easy to read. Print it out in a large font or leave space between lines if it is hand written. Keep in mind the length of your eulogy; it’s best to keep things on the short side, especially if there are other speakers.
- Review and Revise. Your first draft will not be your last. When you think you are done, sleep on it, and look it over in the morning when your mind is fresh again. That will be the time to make any necessary revisions.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Read over your eulogy several times to become familiar with it. Practice in front of a mirror, read it to your friends or family, and have them give you feedback. Become familiar with your speech so you can recite it without making it look like you’re reading from a script. The more practice you have, the more comfortable you will be when the time comes.
- Make them laugh, but be respectful. There is room for appropriate humor in your eulogy. Stories that will make everyone smile bring back fond memories.
- Don’t be afraid to show emotion. Funerals are an extremely emotional event. If you feel you might be overcome by your emotions, have a back-up plan for someone you trust to step in and deliver the eulogy for you. Give them a copy well in advance if you feel this may be the case.
- Have a glass of water and tissues handy.
When writing an obituary, gather information from family and friends about your loved one’s childhood, education, career, hobbies, and interests. Communicate with funeral home staff regarding the date, time, and location of the funeral service, or other funeral-related events.
Remember, most newspapers charge by the word. We have a number of templates on hand to help you include all information in as few words as possible. Families can, of course, make adjustments as they see fit.