How to Write a Eulogy

Think of writing as small blocks of information to be delivered as a whole.

Think of writing as small blocks of information to be delivered as a whole.

My mother already has written her obituary, because she’s afraid that someone will mess that little piece of writing up and she won’t be around to correct it. But, she can’t write my eulogy for her, a task that could fall on my shoulders if I’m around when she passes on. You see, she can write what she wants in her obituary; however, she cannot write what I would want to say about her once she’s gone. The eulogy belongs to the person who delivers it, not to the deceased.

With that said, you might wonder how I would write that eulogy. Basically, the eulogy – which is a speech about the deceased’s positive attributes delivered from the deliverer’s perspective – is written just like any other speech. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. All three parts of the eulogy may take a few hours or days to write, only because writing is difficult for many people and because you do need to do a bit of research. But, it only takes five to ten minutes to deliver a eulogy.

So, you can think of a eulogy like you would a big meal that takes hours to prepare but only minutes to devour. Within that analogy, you can prepare your eulogy like you would prepare a meal. You know that you want an appetizer, a main dish and a dessert. This may help you organize your eulogy in chronological order. Additionally, as you’ll see below, the meal can be broken down further to help you organize other information.

For the appetizer, you might want to choose a quote, poem or text from a famous person that best describes the deceased for you. Not only will this appetizer help fill a void that many novice writers face – writer’s block – it also can help you determine the overall theme for the eulogy. Plus, the quote or text can provide contrast for the rest of the eulogy. For instance, a funny quote could provide a nice entry into a heartbreaking eulogy. Or, a somber quote may lead into an amusing perspective on how the deceased lived his or her life.

The main meal is divided into three sections – the main dish and two side dishes. To organize this meal, you’ll want to know many things about the deceased, such as:

  • The deceased’s vital statistics, such as birth date, age, etc.
  • Family names and other close relationships
  • The deceased’s education, his or her work or career information
  • Hobbies or special interests
  • Where the deceased lived
  • Special accomplishments

You may never use all the above information, but the sheer volume of that information can be pared down to highlights. Pick one main point that stands out for you and embellish it. That would be the main dish. Pick two other “side dishes” that will complement the main dish, and you have the middle of your eulogy.

Finally, the dessert, or the end of the eulogy. While the dessert is unlike the appetizer in many ways, it is part of a circle – the end of a full text (or meal). So, bring the eulogy back to the beginning and end it with the same tone and – to make it even easier for you – with a paraphrase of the same information you used to lead into the eulogy.

As you go along, practice what you have written. This practice can help you to remember what you have written, and this recitation also can help you time your eulogy. But, be warned – it can take a lot of writing to fill five minutes’ worth of time. At the same time, you can realize why all that information-gathering is so important, as you may need it to embellish that meal a bit more.

Most importantly, write in your own voice. In other words, write the way you talk. This method may help you to voice your information about the deceased in a more natural manner and the task won’t seem so intimidating. Plus, you’ll want to think about the deceased and the relationship you had with him or her. Add information about where and how you met, things you did together along with the moments that stand out for you. Finally, talk about the things you will miss most about the deceased when you realize that person no longer will share in this life with you.

This is why my mother can not write my eulogy for her, because I will write about what my life means without her. And, if I pass on before she does, she may write about what her life might mean without me. No matter how much we would like to speak for each other in life, the eulogy can provide a vehicle for the survivor to speak from love uninterrupted.

For more tips on writing eulogies, visit How to Write a Eulogy at Speech Topics Help or an even easier way to write a eulogy at WikiHow.

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