How to Give a Eulogy

by Culture & Society Editor
Choose a quiet spot to write your condolences without distraction.

Choose a quiet spot to write your condolences without distraction.

A eulogy is a speech in praise of a person who has died. One of the most important elements of a funeral, it can be given by a family member, friend of the departed or religious leader.

Talk to the family of the deceased. Write down details of the person's life, major awards or recognition he or she received, names of family members, and special memories that family members share. Ask if the family would like you to say anything specific during the eulogy.

Take your notes home. Try to find a theme or ethic that defined the person's life and build the eulogy around it. For example, was family most important to the deceased? Did he or she have a great sense of humor?

Begin at the beginning. Most eulogies begin with the departed person's birth and give a brief outline of his or her life. Include anecdotes, memories and details that capture the person's spirit.

Try to quote a memorable statement made by the person or relay specific incidents that bring him or her to life for family and friends. Anything that paints a portrait of the individual is perfect.

Use your personal memories of the individual, if you have any. For example, if you knew the deceased in your youth, recall those times.

Infuse your eulogy with a little humor, especially if the deceased was a jokester or had a good sense of humor. Keep all humorous references appropriate to the occasion.

Be as brief as you can while still doing justice to the life of the deceased. Brevity is the key to a well-received eulogy.

Tips

  • Try to avoid high-flown, moralistic speeches, and don't portray the deceased as a saint unless he or she truly was.
  • If you're not sure how much time you should take to deliver the eulogy, ask the person conducting the funeral or the family what they expect.
  • You may want to rehearse the eulogy a few times so you'll feel more comfortable delivering it. You don't need to memorize it, though; using typed sheets or note cards is perfectly acceptable.
  • If you find yourself becoming too emotional to continue, stop for a moment and try to collect yourself. If you feel you are are unable to resume, you can ask the clergy member who has been officiating to read the eulogy for you.

Items you will need

  • Book Of Quotations
  • Dictionaries
  • Thesauri
  • Funeral Programs
  • Paper
  • Pens

Photo Credits

  • Indeed/Photodisc/Getty Images