Have you ever been asked to write a Eulogy? How did you manage? This is something that most of us would find daunting.
The task has probably fallen to you because the deceased is a loved one or close friend or associate. If this is the case, you are already dealing with your own loss and grief. And now you have the pressure of a deadline to meet to write a eulogy.
Writing a eulogy can be a difficult task. So how do you write it and what do you say? Let’s think about where to start if you have to face this challenge one day. And what you should focus on, keeping key aspects of a eulogy in mind.
So what do we look for in a eulogy?
The eulogy is a chance for the family and friends of the deceased to talk about the life and achievements of their loved one.
Its main purpose is to talk about what was special about the deceased. So what you say in your eulogy is important. Because it will remind people who cared about the deceased of the key events and milestones of that person’s life. It will also give you the opportunity to share other things with them. Such as aspects of the deceased’s life and personality which they may not have known about.
Although there is no set limit for a eulogy they are usually between 5 and 10 minutes duration. If you are sharing the eulogy with others, about 3 minutes for each contributor is a good guideline.
Do your research
Start by speaking to family members and close friends of the person who has passed away. Reach out to them, not only for essential information, but also for memorable stories, special or amusing anecdotes. Discuss with them any keywords that you or they would use to describe your loved one, the more the better. These will be helpful to keep in mind when you are writing the eulogy.
You will probably be introduced by a celebrant or person conducting the service. If not, you should start by introducing yourself and noting your relationship to the deceased. If you are part of the immediate family, you can thank the people attending the service, in particular any who may have had to travel some distance. Otherwise, if you are not a member of the family, express your condolences to them.
What to include
You may find using a timeline of the deceased’s life the most helpful way of structuring your eulogy.
Key information should include place of birth, childhood, education and any qualifications (academic, trade, other). Also refer of course, to marriage/partners/significant relationships, children, grandchildren, close family members (such as brothers and sisters), and a summary of working life and retirement if relevant. You might like to mention the parents of the deceased. When and how they met and married, and any interesting stories from childhood days.
You can add other information in the eulogy which might be relevant to the deceased. For example, a mention of any career related achievements, details of sporting achievements, any community service or other community contribution.
In cases where the deceased had any hobbies or special interests, club or society memberships (any maybe positions held), or any favourite music, songs, sayings, or any special preferences, likes and dislikes, these will probably be of interest to your audience. If the deceased was a religious person, you could mention his or her commitment to faith.
On a more personal level, you might include any special personal memories or anecdotes you would like to share with those present.
Don’t be afraid of including humour, it can relieve the tension for everyone.
You have done well, and can now come to a close with some words of comfort and a final farewell. Use the person’s name. Alternatively you may want to use a quote from the loved one’s favourite author, poet or even the person him/herself.
The really hard part - delivering your eulogy at the service
So we all agree that writing a eulogy for a loved one is hard enough, but even harder is delivering it to the audience at the service. Your eulogy will probably contain much love and emotion and managing your feelings in an open forum will be challenging.
Remember that all those present will be sympathetic and will understand how difficult this is for you. There are many sources you can refer to with helpful advice on coping with emotions.
How Anticipate Life can help with end of life planning
Sometimes it can be difficult to access all the information needed to write a eulogy. One feature of Anticipate Life is the ability to provide some of the details that could be included in your eulogy, such as education, career, and relationships. It also gives you the special opportunity to provide some more intimate details that would speak directly and lovingly to those left behind.