The passing of a loved one is never an easy thing. Everyone is flooded with memories and feelings of the departed. If you have been asked to present a eulogy, your task is an overwhelming one. It is considered a great honor when given the task of creating the final dedication to a person who has passed; with that honor is a great deal of responsibility and pressure. Whether this is the first time or the one hundredth time performing this service, there are some timeless steps to follow on how to write a eulogy.
It is important to remember as you proceed that the most meaningful eulogies speak from the heart. If you are not moved to tears when writing or delivering this commemoration, you are not dedicating enough. It is an intentional method of expressing emotions and should elicit a strong response from the reader and audience alike.
Here are the basics on how to write a eulogy:
Recall and Gather
Spend time in remembrance of the individual, both privately and with family and friends. Write down things such as events, personality quirks or traits, hobbies and interests, even hopes and dreams which the person was known for. These gems of the individual’s life will become an important foundation in creating a beautiful commemoration.
Balance these memories with personal facts such as when and where they were born, education, service, accomplishments, and mention their family or other close relationships. Some people enjoy using facts about what was occurring in the world at the time of the individual’s birth to give weight to the challenges that were occurring socially or economically at the time.
This can often be one of the most difficult steps. The delivery of a eulogy should be concise — try to keep it to only five to ten minutes. This is a very short period when you realize how many memories there are from the person. It is your task to take the wealth of these pieces and determine what best represents the person as a whole. Delivering this material is often most easily accomplished by listing them in a flowing timeline.
Tips for Writing
As you begin to write, the best way to approach it is as if you are speaking. Do not begin using vocabulary or terms that you would not use on a day to day basis, keep it simple, honest and pure. Also, be careful to not get yourself wrapped up in the mechanics of writing; remember this will be verbally presented.
If you find you are having problems putting into words what you want to say, it is acceptable to use quotes, poems, religious writings, even jokes when appropriate.
If you are aware of a favorite piece of literature which the departed enjoyed, you can work this into your presentation as well. Many people find that using this approach and then building the eulogy around the material makes the process much simpler. It is a great aid in maintaining a focal point to match memories and other subject material for the eulogy.
Once you have made your first draft, begin to review and edit the material.
You may find this process is more effective by reading it aloud to yourself or others. If you have a recorder available, read it aloud and then play it back. You can be your own greatest critic.
You can also try setting it aside for a day or two before returning to it with fresh eyes. The down time can often present you with alternate methods of presenting information, or even better ways of wording what you already have. If it still has an emotional and lasting impact, then you have completed your task.