What makes a great eulogy

Posted: 21st July 2015

A great eulogy is one that people will walk away from and still be talking about long after the funeral service has ended.You don’t have long. So it’s about pulling out those things that people will remember most. Think of who will be at the service and write with them in your mind. As much as this is a eulogy about a person, it’s also about engaging with each and every person in the room and they need to feel connected to it.For the use of an example, we will assume you are preparing a eulogy for a lady called Lynne.

You want people to walk away from her service saying:

“That was just Lynne down to a tee!”

Your delivery of the eulogy is just as important as what’s said. Although you will be talking about someone you’re emotionally attached to, so worry less about your performance on this occasion. People aren’t expecting a great show. They just want to hear something moving, meaningful, relevant and something they can relate to.

Some insightful questions to ask yourself 

If you close your eyes and think of Lynne, what do you see her doing, saying or just generally getting up to? How does she make you feel when you think about her? 

What will you miss most now that she’s no longer with you? If you had three words to sum Lynne up, and only 3 words, what would they be? 

When do you think she was at her happiest in life? 

What were Lynne’s proudest moments? 

Some things to look out for! 

People will remember how the eulogy made them feel. They won’t remember a list of dates, jobs or names. Avoid doing anything that looks like a scripted CV or a role call!

Try and find something to put in, that people never knew about Lynne – something interesting they can take away. You’ll help the conversation to continue long after the funeral service has ended then.

See if you can find a common thread that you can wrap the eulogy around and keep bringing things back to. For example:

“……..they lived for their family through and through………….they were a pint half full person and not half empty………………..no matter what they did, they always did with enthusiasm………………” 

You might then find this helpful as your starting point and your closing point.

funeral eulogy

Your eulogy structure – this all depends on the kind of life Lynne has lived. 

Use the common thread approach above. Starting with a main header and ending with it, helps to open and close your eulogy.  Start at the top of her life. Find the point in her life that she was most happy in or most successful. Start at the top – fill it in between – and then finish at the top. Finish where you want people to remember her.

A chronological order of things might be suitable, so you could go from birth to the end of her life if that feels more suitable.

Use stories and anecdotes. When we remember people in life, we tend to remember them because of how they made us feel and through stories………”Do you remember when she…..” Find one or two small anecdotes that bring the eulogy into reality.

Writing to be heard, is very different from writing to be ‘read’. Keep your sentences short as it helps you to breath easier. Have more paragraphs in to differentiate your points. Write as though you would speak it. The grammar can look lazy in this style of writing, but it’s all about helping you to deliver it!

Put your eulogy into size 16 font and double space it. If emotion gets the better of you and your eyes well up, there’s more chance of you being able to carry on rather than struggle with the text!

And remember, you’re doing the eulogy because people think you’ve got something important to say. 

So make it one of the proudest days of your life!

Good luck …..and do get in touch if you want to chat anything through.