A eulogy is a speech of remembrance to pay tribute to someone who has died.
Writing a successful eulogy can be challenging but also enriching, providing a moment to reflect meaningfully on the deceased life and legacy. Drawing on stories and memories, accomplishments, lessons learned, or favourite quotes, the eulogy is an expression of why this person was important and how they’ll be remembered now that they’re gone.
This step-by-step guide has everything you need to know about how to write a eulogy, including how long the eulogy should be, how to research and gather information before you write, what to include in the eulogy, and how to edit and revise your speech.
How Long is a Eulogy?
A eulogy is usually around 5 minutes long. As you write your eulogy, aim for about 750-1500 written words (or 1-2 typed pages, single-spaced) — this should be about 5 minutes when spoken.
What to Include in a Eulogy?
A eulogy can include anecdotes, accomplishments, favourite quotes — any details that help paint a picture of the personality of the deceased. The eulogy you write might include:
- A brief recounting of their life story.
- Insights into their relationships with family and close friends.
- Career milestones and accomplishments.
- Achievements related to personal goals, interests, or hobbies.
- Your favourite memories.
- Favourite quotes, poems, songs, proverbs and/or religious writings.
Their own words — a catchphrase, perhaps, or a poem or song they wrote.
Writing the Eulogy
Start by reminiscing about the person. Think about what made them unique or defined them as a person. These can be big personality traits or small quirky details:
- What did they love?
- What were they passionate about?
- Was he the life of the party? Or did he prefer to be by himself in the woods?
- Did they have to overcome obstacles in their life?
Also think about your relationship with this person:
- When did you first meet them?
- What will you miss most about them?
- What is your favourite memory of them?
How did they change your life?
Write a Draft
Now that you’ve gathered and organized, it’s time to weave these pieces together to create a narrative about this person. The eulogy is a speech, so write as you would speak. Don’t try to be too formal, and don’t worry about grammar or spelling. In this first draft, don’t hold back; let it all come out. Just get your thoughts down on paper. Once you’ve written all you want to say, set the eulogy aside for a little while. It is a good idea to take a break before you begin editing so you can look at what you’ve written with fresh eyes.
Review and Edit
Read your eulogy. Again, don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Does the eulogy make sense? Will listeners understand what you’re trying to say? Does it capture the spirit of your loved one?
Have you said enough? Add any other important details that are missing. Make sure what you want people to know about this person comes through clearly. For example, if you really want people to appreciate what a loving father he was, include examples of the ways he showed his children how much he cared.
Have you said too much? If the eulogy is long, look for places where you repeat yourself, make the same point more than once, or include a lot of detailed information.
Delivering the eulogy
- Practice reading aloud first so that you are familiar with the words, you understand how long it will take and where to put in pauses if necessary.
- If you change your mind about delivering the eulogy, it’s okay to ask someone else to give the speech on your behalf.
- Be kind to yourself. This may be the most difficult speech you’ll ever give. This may be your first time addressing a large group of people. You may be nervous. You will be emotional.
- Let yourself cry if you need to. It’s normal to feel and show emotions, especially at a time like this.