How to write a memorable eulogy
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How to write a memorable eulogy

Being asked to write a funeral eulogy can be a beautiful honour and a wonderful experience. It’s one of the last gift’s you can give to your loved one who has passed away. But it can also be an extremely nerve-racking experience, and unless you’re someone who is used to giving public speeches, preparing a speech and delivering it can be extremely daunting. Coupled with the fact that it’s a highly emotional time for you and your family, it could be one of the most challenging speeches you will ever be asked to give. Being prepared is essential, so you’ll have confidence in delivering the perfect tribute.

Here are some tips on how to write and deliver the perfect funeral eulogy including:

  • How to start
  • Choosing a theme
  • Famous and humorous eulogies for inspiration
  • Things to avoid
  • Delivering the eulogy

How to start

This is, without doubt, the hardest step. Take some time to yourself, either at a place where you spent some beautiful times with your loved one or somewhere quiet and start remembering all the highlights, attributes and memories of the person.

Make a list; even it’s in bullet point form. It’s going to be emotional so be prepared to take some breaks when you need. Talk to close friends and family about sharing some of their stories. Ask them questions about the person’s life and ask them about some great memories which can add to your planning.

Choose a theme and style

There are quite a few different styles and themes of eulogy’s you can use as a guide. Three of the most popular themes are biographical, personal and specialised.

Biographical themes

These recount the life history of the departed. Talk about where they were born, grew up, went to school, first jobs, first loves, relationships, achievements, family, career highlights and other things that have impacted their life. This is a good idea when there are a lot of people at the funeral who are from different eras of the persons’ life. It also gives a great insight to reveal something new about the person that not everyone would know.

Personal and memory themes

This is where your research of talking to family members and close friends will pay off. This can be based on your personal memories of the person and their legacy of how they impacted people around them. Then you can also incorporate the memories of other family members. Stories from their children and parents, and information on any projects or charities that were impacted as part of their legacy. How they helped their community or business or helped those around them. This can be a highly emotional theme, and it’s okay to show some emotion.

Specialised themes

This generally relates to something that might work with the personality of the departed and how they would have liked to be remembered. If they were a light-hearted and funny type of person, it would be appropriate to incorporate a humorous speech. If they were religious, a religious theme might be suitable, or if they were a musician, a speech with different references of music could work well.

Get inspiration

A great way to start writing your eulogy is to read and watch some of the most famous, memorable and funny eulogies of all time for inspiration. It can be entertaining and inspiring and give you lots of valuable tips on how to structure and recite your speech. After all, some of the best eulogies have been written by some of the best speech writers of all time, so it’s a great place for ideas.

Famous Eulogies

Business Leaders

  • Steve Jobs, Apple Computer Eulogy by his sister, Mona Simpson

World Leaders

  • Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi’s Funeral Eulogy by Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales’ Eulogy by her brother Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer
  • Sir Edmund Hillary’s Eulogy presented by Helen Clark, New Zealand Prime Minister

Entertainment and Sports Leaders

  • Sonny Bono’s Eulogy by Cher
  • Graham Chapman’s Eulogy by John Cleese
  • Jim Henson’s Eulogy by Frank Oz
  • George Harrison’s Eulogy by Eric Idle
  • Steve Irwin’s Eulogy by Russell Crowe
  • Steve Irwin’s Eulogy by his daughter, Bindi Irwin
  • Stanley Kubrick’s Funeral by Edward Champion
  • Mickey Mantle’s Eulogy by Bob Costas
  • Marilyn Monroe’s Eulogy by Lee Strasberg
  • Rosa Parks Eulogy by Oprah Winfrey

Things to avoid

If you talk about the person in a positive and uplifting way, you can’t go wrong. Be honest about your feelings, and your audience will appreciate your effort and support you along the way.

But there are a few areas not to talk about. These are:

  • Don’t use the speech to settle an old score or bring up something hurtful from the past. If you still have unsettled issues, it’s better to get someone else to give the speech.
  • Don’t talk about how difficult it is to give the speech, as your audience will already be sympathetic and understand how emotional this is for you. If you feel like it will be too emotional, have someone to stand with you as a backup.
  • Don’t think the speech has to be perfectly written or delivered. The audience will appreciate your effort, and if you speak from the heart, they will love the speech.

Delivering the Eulogy

Now that you’ve spoken to family and friends about the memories, chosen a theme and prepared some research and notes it’s time to sit down and write the speech. Once written, it’s a good idea to practice it out loud and in front of a few good friends or family members if needed.

The more you practice, the better prepared you will be for the delivery. Your emotions will play a big part during your presentation, so the more you practice, the more confident you’ll be when speaking.

If you find during your speech, your emotions become too much, pause, take a deep breath and start where you left off. Your audience won’t be shocked if you get emotional; in fact, they’ll probably expect it. They’re on your side, and the most important thing that matters is you get the chance to say what you wanted to say.

Speak slowly, read your notes where you need and try looking just above the audience not directly at people which will help keep your emotions together.

At Cairns Funeral Directors, we can assist you with all your funeral needs.

Contact us or stop by our Cairns location to discuss your funeral plans today.