A Guide On How To Write A Eulogy
Writing or delivering a eulogy, like any other form of public speaking is a prestigious and commendable act. This gives you the opportunity to talk about the deceased to the people and remind them how wonderful he or she was. Although the idea of standing in front of people to talk sends some people scurrying over the mountains, it is a very easy thing to do when you’re well prepared.
WHAT IS A EULOGY?
Eulogy definition states it is a speech or piece of writing praising somebody or something very much or a speech given at a funeral praising the person who has died. It is an Oration to honor a deceased person, usually at a funeral. This includes speaking highly and commending the person on the life he has lived, the battles he has won, lives he has impacted and many other things.
It is also called panegyric. The honor of writing a eulogy usually falls to someone who has had close contact and relationship with the deceased except for the lack a close family member, associate or friend, this is always true. This person is almost always expected to say good things about the deceased and not concentrate on his flaws no matter how terrible the deceased might have been. This fact was what inspired a writer to say “live a good life so the preacher won’t have to lie at your funeral”.
Usually, public speaking and all that relates to it scares some people to their bones and the idea of standing in front of people to give a speech is almost unthinkable, let alone writing and telling eulogies. However, good preparation will save you from any nightmare you might have cooked up in your head. Below is a guide to writing and delivering a sincere and meaningful eulogy.
Useful advice for writing a eulogy
- Think about the deceased: The best way to write about someone is to think about the memories you shared with such person. Think about the good times, the bad times and the not-so-good-not-so-bad times.While creating a eulogy for a friendor a family member, you might want to visit places where you have been with this person before, check his or her pictures, listen to the songs both of you love and so on. Go down the memory lane and remember how this person really was before his death. Think of him alone and nothing else while you write.
- Write from your heart: As you reminisce your time together with this person, begin to put words to paper. Don’t worry about organizing your thoughts yet, just write!
- Emotional response: A funeral is a place usually filled with tense and sad people no matter how old the deceased was or how prepared they were for his death. While writing the speech, you have to make up your mind as to what kind of response you want from the audience. Do you want to lighten the heavily tensed and gloomy atmosphere or do you want to remind them of the enormity of their loss and how the deceased is irreplaceable in their lives and hearts.Deciding the kind of emotional response you want will go a long way in guiding your eulogy. The sincere fact is that there is no approach you use that won’t give you the desired effect but the tone and mood of the delivered speech will serve as a filter for what should and what should not be written down.
- Weave the write up together: after writing everything that comes to your mind, start to arrange them accordingly. Put likely stories together. Don’t jumble everything together. Pick out the unique ideas that best describes the deceased and link them together. Delivering an unorganized speech leaves the audience confused and you may end up losing their attention.
- MYOB (mind your own business):As prestigious and important as your role is at the funeral, make sure you don’t overstep your boundaries. It is not your business, no matter how close you are to the deceased, to talk about the things he didn’t do well, apologize to those he offended, talk about his tragic flaws or even advise the audience based on his weaknesses. As much as honesty is good, if you feel you can’t concentrate on the deceased’s positive side while he lived then you may not be the best person to write or deliver that eulogy.
- Edit: read what you have written and digest it.Read it over and over again until you are comfortable with it. As you read, weed out the words or expressions that do not suit your central idea. You won’t be satisfied with what you’ve written at probably the fifth reading but as you adjust and edit, you’ll get to your point of satisfaction.
- Know your speech: writing it down is definitely not enough, you must know what you have written down by heart or at least the complete concept of each paragraph. Do not attempt to memorize the speech and rattle it off while you deliver, this may make your eulogy look like a presentation. Knowing what you’ve written down will give you more confidence and prevent any form of panic in case something happens to the written speech. You can then look away from the paper and gesticulate without missing out your point.
- Get a pseudo audience and deliver your speech: Deliver your speech as if the audience were real. This pseudo audience may be your friend or a close family member and if you can’t get an audience, stand in front of a mirror and practice. When you are satisfied with your performance, then you are ready to deliver the eulogy. It expedient that you remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect like a presidential speech, a funeral audience is usually more concerned about the idea you are passing that your poise.
SUGGESTIONS HOW TO START A EULOGY AND SOME EULOGY EXAMPLES
Sometimes the beginning of a eulogy might be the most difficult to write, so it is better to write the body of the eulogy before you start to worry about the introduction. You may even find some sample eulogy online to boost your confidence before you start to write. Below is some important information that should be present in the first paragraph of the eulogy.
- Introduce yourself and your relationship with the deceased.
Example, “my name is Tracy and I’ve known Doctor Mike since I was born…” be careful not deviate from the deceased and talk about yourself. Start with the favorite scripture, quote, poem or saying of the deceased. Example, ü “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)… Dad lived his whole life following this scripture.
If there was anything he wasn’t, he wasn’t fearful.” ü “Do unto others what you want them to do unto you… Maria will never do anything she can’t take to another person. She was always so considerate that everyone couldn’t but love her.” ü “Love is life; you have to feed and nourish it or else it’ll die. That’s why it is a fall to many and a victory to some… Anytime mother recited her favorite
Poem, we all roll our eyes because we were too young to understand the wisdom in it but as we grew older, it became a guide for our decisions in life too. Per adventure, the deceased has no known favorite quote, scripture or poem, you can search for suitable quotes online to start and spice up your speech.
For example: the life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.
-Cicero. The song ended but the melody lingers on.
– Irving Berlin. The grave is but a covered bridge, leading from light to light, through a brief darkness
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. When words are most empty, tears are most apt.
– Max Lucado. Say not ‘goodnight’ but in some brighter clime, bid me ‘good morning’.
–Anna Laetitia Barbauld. I fall asleep in the full and certain hope that my slumber shall not be broken; and that, though I be all-forgotten, yet I shall not be all
– forgotten, but continue that life in the thoughts and deeds of those I have loved. –Samuel Butler.
WHILE YOU DELIVER THE EULOGY
Be calm, cool and confident: don’t fidget as you stand before your audience. Stand straight and scan through the audience before you start. Rest your gaze on the immediate family of deceased and start your eulogy. Be articulate and don’t rush your speech.
When you realize you are still very anxious, close your eyes and breathe in and out deeply several times, concentrate on your grief (the pain of losing the deceased) rather than the intimidating audience and then start. It is alright to gesticulate or even move a bit around the podium but make sure you have the attention of your audience and don’t lose it.
2. Don’t try too hard: a funeral isn’t a place to show your oratory skills and how funny you are so don’t try too hard to squeeze a laugh out your audience. This may make you look silly and upset the whole speech. Deliver your speech with confidence and you’ll get your desired response. Most importantly, the speech isn’t about you so concentrate on the deceased and JUST SPEAK!