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How to write a meaningful eulogy

A eulogy is a speech delivered at a funeral. Writing a eulogy can feel like a big responsibility; especially if you have never delivered one before. When you’re dealing with the grief of losing a loved one, it can be really hard to compose your thoughts and work out what is the right thing to say. You might be struggling to get a sense of what people will be expecting from you when you address them at the funeral. You’re likely to feel under pressure to do the job well, and be wanting to do all you can to honour the memory of your loved one. 


Before you begin writing a eulogy, the first thing to clarify is if anyone else will be speaking, and if so, the order in which you will be speaking. It’s also useful to discuss key ideas with any other speakers, to avoid duplication. 


If you’re not sure where to start with the content, just begin by writing your name and how you knew the person. Then, simply jot down some special memories you have about the person. The first memories that come to mind will often be the clearest and the most suitable for you to share in the eulogy. Make notes about what was unique about your loved one; their hobbies, interests, passions and traits. If you want to share a number of stories or anecdotes, try to keep them in chronological order- it will help the listeners keep track of your content.


The main intent of a eulogy is to help people remember your loved one in a meaningful way. It should be both informative and interesting. If you can include the observations about the person, with details of their character, your eulogy will be much more memorable than a list of dates or other details that don’t seem to matter much anymore. 


Memories that give insight into the nature of the person are particularly useful. Those in attendance at the funeral will appreciate stories that give insight into the personality of the person who has died. It’s also completely reasonable to include some humour in the eulogy, depending on how well you knew the deceased person, and the circumstance of their death. If you're the one who has been tasked with writing the eulogy, you’re sure to have a pretty good idea about what might be suitable, and what isn’t appropriate.


And while there are some common conventions that most people stick to when delivering a eulogy, it’s also important to understand that it’s ok to do things your way. This is especially true if you have had the opportunity to talk to the person about their ideas for their funeral, before their passing, and you have an idea about how they wanted their eulogy to be.


Once you have drafted the eulogy, it’s a good idea to take a break and then revisit it the next day. Most eulogies go for between five and ten minutes, which is likely to be in the range of 500-1200 words. A few basic details along with those meaningful stories and memories are all you will really need. 


Ultimately, writing a eulogy gives you a special opportunity to honour a loved one who has passed. It’s a chance for you to share your memories and reflections. It’s important the eulogy you deliver lets you share what is important to you.