Writing of Eulogies

Planning The Eulogy

As part of most funeral ceremonies, someone (a family member, the priest, minister or celebrant) tells an abbreviated “Life Story” of the one who has died. This is called The Eulogy, from the Greek words “to speak well of”. Often it is difficult to know what to include and what to leave out.

Generally speaking, the main Eulogy should include

  • a brief history; and
  • some personal characteristics.

Some families use a video presentation in some form as part of the Eulogy. Sometimes a second eulogy is brought from a grandchild, lifetime friend or working associate. Some people choose to present this as a letter read to their deceased loved one. 


Everybody is somebody’s hero. When we speak of somebody that we love who has died a temptation often arises to exaggerate their good points and eliminate their shortcomings. Certainly, maximize the good, but even a passing reference to the widely known shortcomings of the person who has died will lend credibility to your story. 


Traces of genuine humour will often ease the hardest of eulogies. Most people have at least one funny story in their past, usually famous among the family if no-one else. Depending on the circumstances, including this can often provide an emotional relief valve to the heaviness of a funeral. 

Write It Out

First, it tidies your thoughts and presentation. It is easy to think that you will come across more naturally if you speak “off the cuff”. Even if you are skilled and experienced in public speaking, the emotion of the moment can rob you of a key memory you later may wish you had included.

Second, the act of telling the stories of someone we love often brings uninvited tears and the inability to continue. This is natural. But the story needs to be told, and if you cannot go on, another family member, a friend, the priest, minister or celebrant can take a written script and continue until you are able. This why a script is important. 


Music has a way of both grasping and soothing the emotions. This is especially true at a funeral. Often a key piece of music will follow immediately after the Eulogy, maybe accompanied by photos, giving everyone present an opportunity to reflect on the life being celebrated. Choose something loved by the family or the person who has died, or music that sums up his or her character.

Download our guide for your use in gathering and arranging the Eulogy here. Eulogy Plan Sheet