How To Write A Eulogy

Guide To Writing A Eulogy (Funeral Speech) For A Loved One Who Has Passed Away

A funeral service would be a short and inaccurate celebration of a person’s life without a personal speech or two or three. 

 

Funeral speeches are often termed a Eulogy though not all need to be of the same length and discerning stature.

 

Others can speak at a funeral and deliver their own rendition of memories and about the deceased’s character without their words being the Eulogy itself. Alternative speeches can be complementary.

Funerals are often remembered on account of the words that are spoken within the frame of a personal recollection.

 

A Eulogy (or Funeral Speech) is a recount of someone’s life, as told by friends and family. It need not be long but contain enough references to be substantive to the listener. More than one person can stand in front of a congregation to read it out.

 

Reading out a Eulogy is probably the best way of saying Goodbye, by heralding achievements and moments in a person’s life that should be celebrated for all time. 

How do you choose a person to read the Eulogy?

 

It could be a friend or a family member, that is confident enough to read it out aloud. 

 

It is an honour to be chosen. The same person that reads a Eulogy does not necessarily needs to be the person who researches or writes one. But it can help if it is.  

If you are currently researching about funeral speeches and need some help, read on…

 

Whether you are trying to write about your own relationship and the wider implications of their life towards others; or to figure out what type of information you should supply the Funeral Director, Celebrant or Vicar leading the service.

 

There is no harm in consulting cousins, brothers and sisters of grand parents or their own brothers and sisters to try and fill in the gaps. Having supplied information about my Mother in what was understandably one of the worst weeks of my life. The Eulogy was not nearly what it should have been and there’s no going back from a speech like that.

 

This is why people should really try to get their own funeral plans in place and ensure information is known about them. 


A child doesn’t know their mother was a raving loony in the sixties.
A Grandson doesn’t know his Granddad’s regiment or old school friends.

 

Families and friends have the space of seven days minimum to bring together an entire person’s life, all the details and to present them in a funeral speech or eulogy that could last fifteen to twenty minutes. It would be a shame if a recant of someone’s life was to be embellished with very little detail and in only five minutes.

Why Have Funeral Speeches Or A Eulogy?

When it comes to burying someone it would not be right to not say anything while doing so. 

 

This is an opportunity to say Goodbye and truly remember the person and what they gave to others, either compassionately, in friendship, as a parent, as a friend and as someone who was involved in a community. To elaborate and provide meaning of their life existence.

 

To provide a comparison, even when we bury our pets, a cat or dog. It’s not done without ceremony. 

 

There are tears and we may speak a few words about their character, how they made us feel and recollect incidents where we laughed so much we cried again. 

This is humanity, to be human.

 

A funeral speech is a dedication. 

 

A Eulogy forms the larger more encompassing aspect of this but many can feel the need to say something. 

 

Or their words can be entwined in the main Eulogy itself. 

 

Speeches provide reason and meaning, to understand, to comfort and to allow the congregation to feel remorse but also to find closure in that this is what life leads to and that life should be celebrated.

How To Gather Facts And Tales From Family And Friends

You cannot truly assemble a Eulogy without having a little detail about that person’s life.

  • The reason for this prose is to get across factual accounts about their personality, character and the qualities that made them who they were.
  • This is recounted by way of tales and stories that either people can imagine or recall or compare to the situation they know all too well.
  • This is also a time to recount happy times and harsh times that the person came through. It is not however an opportunity to brig up bad memories that might put the person in a bad light.
  • Any other events in their life can be judged at the appropriate time. This should be a light hearted focus on happier moments that a congregation of family and friends can leave with, feeling good about the person and themselves.
  • In the week since passing to the funeral itself, leaving yourself at least 24 to 36 to write the final piece you will need to contact family and friends.
  • We would suggest you split the task wherever possible. Appointing someone as a contact in each branch of the family, ensuring they ask questions on your behalf.
  • The same with a current work place or a club or group. You can of course spend all the time asking people questions about the person should you wish.
  • What type of questions should you be asking, what information do you need? This is a Eulogy as a biography but in miniature form.
  • You are seeking happy memories, anecdotes, stories which will show who the person was to others around them.
  • The first time they met, how courageous, humorous or dedicated to a cause.
  • Research options aside from asking people would be photo albums, online entries and galleries.

How To Write A Funeral Speech / Eulogy

Writing a funeral speech is a specialist task. 

 

Both the Funeral Director and a Celebrant will have trained long and hard in this particular area, as the service is summed up by a Eulogy, it is probably considered the main event so to speak. 

 

This will undoubtedly make you very nervous.

 

If you are not really used to writing or getting your point across on paper, you could talk into a dictaphone, talking as you might on the day and scribble down what you’ve spoken and re-arrange the sentences afterwards.

 

Most may find it easier to break down a funeral speech or Eulogy into parts.

 

Some funeral sites indicate that five minutes of talking for a Eulogy will suffice. However, fifteen minutes is not extraordinary or boring for a congregation to listen to. 

 

Here are a few funeral speech guidelines…

Speak With Relatives & Friends: 

 

As a child at a funeral for a parent it may not be so easy to conjure up thoughts for a funeral speech for Father or Mother. 

 

Or imagine what the rest of your parent’s life was like before you arrived or in their personal capacity outside of parenthood.

 

It is therefore important to talk to family and friends to find out about the parts that need colouring in. It’s not done to uncover exacting personal accounts but to be able to form a picture of what the person was like with others. 

 

  • What did the person mean to them? 
  • Are there aspects of their character that stood out? 
  • What was exceptional? 
  • Is there a story that could be retold that fits all the above?

Curriculum Vitae and Exact Dates: 

 

A eulogy or funeral speech is not a CV for a position, the person does not require an interview to get to wherever they are going next. It would be possible to mention the school they attended if it was relative to the congregation, otherwise place of birth and growing up in that region in relation to family could be the more concise route.

 

  • Lists of events are boring without somehow invoking a story or memory. 
  • State facts but don’t be entirely based in that memory. 
  • You could perhaps deliver a funeral speech that in 30 seconds talked about their entire school life and achievements and another thirty seconds for their working life and contributions to the community. 
  • While two minutes could be based around a specific story that the congregation would recognise.

 

Concise But Truthful: 

 

If your Granddad was a little short tempered, liked to gamble, drink, smoke but at the same time was loyal to his wife and raised his children well, then say so. Paint a picture of someone that is correct and how others saw them. Mix the two halves of what can be considered imperfect but provide the good light more, after all, this is what is going to be said at the Pearly Gates.

 

Breaking down a speech into parts, not a list, in an order people may understand and recognise but not necessarily in order of their life experience. It could be taken from an aspect of now for the family of the last ten years, back to childhood and then to contributions. An order that makes sense relative to who will be present and what has occurred more recently.

Laying Out The Form Of A Eulogy

It’s not good to be repetitive when you have so little time to recount the best of all of someone’s character traits. 

 

To ensure you maximise the different accounts from people, use diagrams and charts to separate and collate information.

 

A few A4 sheets of paper with info written down into sections and linked, according to date and timeline, locations, whether family or friend or work related and so on.

 

As the info starts to build up and stories, anecdotes and pictures are added you will start to see the basis of the Eulogy forming in your mind.

 

Parts that will create a laugh, another aspect a tear and job people’s memories into remembering the person they knew best. 

 

People will hear the same words but they will each take something different from hearing it.

 

The topics of each content can be assembled from birth to their youth, to marriage and family. 

 

Starting with their place of birth, the family itself, then through to childhood, nicknames, their personality beginning to form.

 

To becoming an adult, work life, relationships that matter, military service and how they benefited from a good education or beat the system and went on to achieve more.

 

A person often dedicates their life to a cause or fandom so brining that into play will be a good idea, as well as acknowledging certain family and friends in the congregation who provided you with the anecdote or tail.

 

Awards, rewards, special dispersions, public service, commendations and heroics, sporting achievements, these can all add colour to describe someone’s life.

 

 

How To Start A Funeral Speech, End And Deliver?

Stating the obvious from the very outset is a great way to lose interest from the majority. Unless you have decided already, possibly avoid suggesting “here we are today” or “we have gathered here” and stating that it’s a funeral and about paying respects, as everyone knows why they are there.

 

Grabbing people’s attention from the start of a funeral speech is important. It may be a good idea for a speech or Eulogy to state something popularised by the deceased. A saying, a greeting, a welcome. “Take your shoes off” or “Alright Geezer” Something everyone will instantly know why you said it.

 

Tell a story but not a fairytale. Very few of us have been angelic, of course we wish to talk about the good things but don’t dive in at the deep end of one character trait straight away as it’s very difficult to swim out of that persona once begun.

 

Having filled in the parts and elaborated about the person’s life, it’s always a good idea to be able to walk away from the podium having supplied one last holler to the person all are saying Goodbye too. You could end as you begun with a popular statement, a quote or saying from the deceased’s favourite tv show or personality.

 

To end the speech with a tribute that raises a smile or a knowing nod that really sums up the person and the words you have so far read out. Delivering a funeral speech will not be the easiest task for most, because we are not all public speakers. There are three things to remember, speak slowly, clearly and be confident. You may wish to include the Eulogy as a remembrance item in written form at the end of the service.

What To Say At A Funeral Speech And The Tone

Very few of us are script writers, and no one expects the person or people who deliver a funeral speech to be orators, especially when there is so much emotion involved. 

 

Of course composure is important and speaking clearly but it’s difficult to set a tone for a funeral speech as people will receive those words in different ways.

 

Too upbeat and you may come across as flamboyant and uncaring, too sad and the congregation may turn off and feel more miserable than they arrived. The best consideration is to perhaps enact a dedication that is along the lines of the deceased’s personality.

 

If they were calm in life and caring, speak volumes about this and show that style. 

 

If the person was humorous and dark, it’s a high probability that if you take this tone and stance while delivering the speech that friends and family will perfectly understand why you do so. 

 

It’s not awkward to create laughter at a funeral, if provided at the correct juncture it is very fitting.

That said, there are famous funeral speeches in films where a person turns up to say Goodbye to someone they loved very much. 

 

Stood and delivered and the reaction of those in attendance was of bemusement and unease, this is, of course, because the character was speaking at the wrong funeral.

 

You do need to try to understand who is in attendance and find the correct mood, this however is not the same as tone. 

 

How receptive will family and friends be to a story that is completely unknown to them? 

Did they know the same person as you?

 

In essence both funeral speeches and Eulogies are storytelling, personal and from the heart. Reflecting upon a person’s life needs a certain grasp, less about the detail and colouring and more about a hint that something was that way. 

 

To laugh but not horrendously, to be moving but not traumatic. 

A speech at funeral services should be delivered with respect, to yourself, the people and the deceased.

Funeral Speech Examples

The point of view heralded by a funeral speech will be different for each funeral and distinct even for the same funeral when proffered by a loved one and partner, a friend or a relative, we of course are the same person but others view us differently. 

 

So how then to deliver a funeral speech as a Son for a Mother, as a friend or to a Granddad or Nanny?

 

We could read endlessly about how to write a speech for a funeral. No matter what your relationship was with the deceased the basic layout need not change. If the facts are entwined correctly, you should be able to take on board views from others in the family and integrate them well, while still delivering it as a voice from you as a Brother, Son, Father or Grand Father.

Funeral Speech For A Friend

A possible funeral speech for a friend example could end up being quite different to that of a family member, depending on how close the friendship was it may be nearer to the true personality of the deceased than any other statement on the day.

 

While not a huge problem, it might be a bit uncomfortable speaking about such wonderful times and a personality trait that you knew of that the parents or partner of the person did not. 

 

That’s not to suggest you should avoid this but it may be something you’d like to talk to the family about first. It’s probable they would wish to know which subjects and angles you wish to elaborate upon so it can fit in with the rest of the service.

Funeral Speech For Dad From Daughter

It’s well known that daughters have a different relationship with their Father & Mother that is over and above that of anyone else. It may not be in your case, but there is always a balance to ensure that you don’t overwrite your brother or sister’s memories or that of your mothers.

 

It seems strange to once again be considering other people’s feelings when delivering a funeral speech but it happens that comments from one could affect another speaker or someone in the congregation. 

 

The important factor is to state the correct things about Dad, to share the personal accounts, to recreate how he was towards you and how you saw him towards the rest of the world. Suggesting “Daddy only bought me a car” and not the other seven siblings could be a much.

 

In other instances, sons may make a funeral speech for Dad that’s a little less fairy tale and more about life experiences. How you went fishing or attended football matches, even though he was a fan of another. Being a father is usually a great aspect for a man, to get this point across to the audience if it applies, could make for a great acknowledgement.

Funeral Speech For Mother From Son

A funeral speech for mother from Son, in our view, is far more difficult to summarise than it is for daughter. 

 

Of course we all love our mothers but a daughter would tend to understand more and get to find out more about their mum’s life before they were born and their thoughts and feelings, more so than a Son. Although this is not always the case.

 

That said, a funeral speech for mother from daughter can entwine similarities to one from a son. If you are siblings it may be a good idea to share the same funeral speech and talk in turn. 

 

Akin to a form of entertainment but also a way to show togetherness, that you worked on the speech and that your parent’s way of upbringing, their love had taught you what was more important about life. Family and that this will remain.

A Funeral Speech For Grand Parents

There is a distinct age gap when attending and delivering a funeral speech for Grandad and Grandma at a grand parent’s funeral. This shouldn’t deter you from wishing to say a few words. 

 

It’s not something relatives would force a child to do but as a young adult it’s nice to be able to contribute in a small way.

 

There is a special relationship between grand children and grand parents, it’s the resemblance of the full circle. It’s adults learning from their parenting the first time around and children can usually enjoy a more relaxed environment. Speaking of that tie between kin and friendship can raise smiles when tales are retold of Nan and Granddad.

Funeral Speech For Uncle or Aunty

Not so indifferent to the relationship with a Grandfather is the undertaking of speaking ceremoniously and joyfully about an Aunt or Uncle. These may be your Grandad’s siblings or your Mum and Dad’s. 

 

Depending on how close your families were raised, they could be important factors in life learning, able to tell them thoughts you couldn’t tell your parents.

 

Or they could have been the occasional visitor with ruby red lips, fragrant, sending you £5 for Christmas. A funeral tribute speech can be light hearted, as they all can, with emotion that shows the congregation a picture of how your relatives featured in your life and what they meant to you.

Funeral Speech For My Brother or Sister

Family. It’s what provides the most of us a meaning in life. 

 

A funeral speech for brother or sister will be heartfelt as any speech for funerals would be. Though there is significantly a closer bond between siblings due to the emotions they grow up with, secrets kept and how they help each other ascertain what the world is about.

 

A relationship that lasts a lifetime, through childhood, work, struggles, marriages and it is hoped nieces and nephews. These are all great stories to mention when writing a speech for a funeral.

What Is A Eulogy Speech At A Funeral

History dictates that even back to 432BC the Pericles funeral speech, spoken after the first year of a significant war, the deceased were to be remembered and yes thanked for what they have provided in their lifetime. As with many traditions in civil life it appears to have stemmed from the Army.

 

A Eulogy is a summation of a person’s life, it is read to evoke emotion and relate to the people who are in attendance. It’s a very small capture of someone’s very long life that hopes to showcase the character, personality, achievements and lean towards memories that people would recognise.

 

Writing a funeral speech along these lines is traditional. There have been occasions where funerals of famous people, comedians, singers, politicians, where quotes, songs, even jokes have been recounted. There are no set rules for a Eulogy or funeral speech other than to ensure it is respectful and for the congregation to understand its foundations.

The Most Appropriate Eulogy Style

This is not a Best Man’s Speech for a Wedding, obviously.


That doesn’t mean you can’t make people laugh however. It is up to you to judge how receptive those at the funeral service will be to your sense of humour. You can set the tone and be serious throughout or split half way through an offer a smile.


Happy anecdotes, poignant memories of struggles with a happy endings, even jokes can be welcomed.

People tend to stick to an order that is recognised, childhood to more senior years, but you can come up with a personalised order if it makes sense. Building on that character and personality in the best way possible. There isn’t a perfect way of delivering a Eulogy or a specific order.


Simply ensure you rehearse the reading of a Eulogy, perhaps ask a friend to listen so it can be adapted and pass to a family friend to ensure corrections are made if necessary.


When up at the podium, clear your throat, speak up, be clear and concise, look up and speak to those in front of you.