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Writing a Fitting Eulogy or Tribute

Hope and Sons Funeral Directors —

Why the Eulogy matters and how to craft a fitting one when it matters...

The importance of “remembering” at the time of a death will without doubt continue to be one of the most important parts of the rituals associated with a funeral. Therefore, it goes without saying that the eulogy will take centre stage in painting the picture of a person’s history, achievements, influence on others, and the part they played in shaping the lives of those gathered to remember.

Whilst the preparation and crafting of a eulogy is deeply personal, eulogies are generally delivered for all mourners gathered to remember. 

It is impossible to find all of the words we need to recreate who somebody was and what they meant to us. We all relate on different levels, having shared different relationships and experiences. For this reason, the main eulogy will often be supported by other speakers recounting different specific aspects of a person’s life.

The eulogy is most often delivered by a close family member or friend. If this is not possible then the celebrant or minister may do this on behalf of the family. Most funeral directors will tell you that the eulogy can be the making or breaking of a“good” funeral. 

For many it will be the first time you have to put together a eulogy, so here are a few helpful tips for planning.

  • Begin early. As thoughts and memories come to you, jot them down for reference when you start to write your eulogy.
  • Remember you are trying to capture a person’s experiences, contributions and character. A collection of dates alone won’t evoke memories of the day to day life that was lived.
  • Consider the many roles they played in their lives, daughter, wife, mother, teacher or friend for example.
  • A chronological order will work well but if someone has had a very full life it may be best to focus on a couple of small important parts.
  • This works particularly well if there are others who can speak on specific aspects.
  • A full life can mean there are many things that funeral attendees will not know about someone. Reference to experiences, highlights and challenges in a person’s life paint a picture of what shaped the person they became. People go away from the funeral feeling they know the person better.
  • Ask other family members or friends for input. There may be a memory you haven’t thought of or something that will add to the picture.
  • How much time is allocated for the eulogy? In general a speech is delivered at 110–150 words per minute depending on the individual so you may want to take this in to account.
  • It’s good to have your speech written down word for word. If, for any reason, you are unable to deliver the eulogy, someone can step in for you which might not be possible otherwise.

Lastly, a few questions that will generally help you in deciding what to say:

  • What are the things that they will be most remembered for?
  • What were they most proud of? 
  •  What hopes, regrets did they share with you? 
  •  What annoyed them? 
  • What excited them? 
  •  What was important to them?
  • What words, actions, thoughts, philosophies, times of day, foods, places and activities may remind you of them most?
  • How do you think they would like to be remembered? 
  •  What characteristics or actions will live on through the lives of others?
Hope and Sons are contemporary yet respectful of tradition, being a five generation funeral family caring for the Dunedin, Mosgiel, and Otago communities.
Send Michael Hope a message at michael@hopeandsons.co.nz

Thanks to Davis Funerals and thedavisway.org for sharing this article with us.