Saying goodbye doesn't always end at the bedside or in the hospital. With a meaningful eulogy, a final goodbye can extend to the funeral with a reflection to honour the person's life. In this blog post, we provide guidance on how to write the best funeral speech, as well as a few tips on public speaking in this nerve-wracking scenario.
A Eulogy is a speech or a piece of writing which pays tribute to a person's life, after they have died. A good eulogy can be a meaningful way to highlight the impact someone had on the world, share funny stories or memories, and pay respect to this person in their funeral service.
It is usually written and read aloud by a family member or close friend during a funeral or a memorial service.
The Eulogy is usually the responsibility of someone who is close to the loved one who has died. This could be close friends, children or loved ones- but there are no strict rules on who can write a eulogy to celebrate a person's life at their funeral.
If the deceased has no surviving family members a best friend may decide to say a few words. Similarly, if the deceased was a member of the Defence Force or Emergency Services one of their superiors may deliver the eulogy.
If the family or friends are overcome with grief as a result of the death they may request a priest, minister or celebrant to give the eulogy instead. These funeral speeches can still include personal anecdotes, and even include written words from family members who didn't want to speak.
A eulogy typically makes up three to ten minutes of a funeral or memorial service. Some funeral directors may allocate a specific time frame for the eulogy in the service, but when it comes to writing a eulogy it can be useful to work within a 1000 to 2000 word framework.
There is no right or wrong way to go about eulogy writing, but below we give some step instructions to help the process.
Typically, improvising a speech is not a good idea when it comes to eulogies. Writing all your thoughts and practising your speech in advance is an important way to prepare to speak on the day. This can help if you feel self conscious, or overwhelmed with grief when it comes to sharing what you write with loved ones.
Printing out the speech with a large font and double spacing can help you speak it in this scenario. It's also important to speak slowly, and practise
Speak to family, friends, colleagues and neighbours of the deceased to gather stories, ideas and other memorabilia to build into your speech.
The best eulogies are based on memories and shared experiences- so reaching out to other close relatives, or a best friend with a special bond can be a good way to start writing.
Similarly, looking through photo albums when writing a eulogy can be a good way to remember your loved one, and write their remembrance speech.
A eulogy should focus on the positive attributes of your loved one and reflect on the positive memories and stories. Try to avoid dwelling on negative traits or judging the deceased. After all, their legacy should be a positive one, not a negative one - it's not an opportunity for a roast.
Once you have done the research and have a basic idea of what you are going to write you can follow the below template to writing a eulogy.
You should begin your eulogy by introducing the person who has died. You might consider including a statement describing your relationship with the person. If you are not a family member this is a chance to talk about how you met, or first impressions- as this will help provide context for the audience.
Here's a helpful prompt to give you an idea of some key words and light hearted tone to aim for. Telling stories can trigger memories of the loved one, and help tell their life story whilst you pay tribute.
E.g. We are here today to mourn the loss of Caroline Smith. She touched all our lives as mother, sister, friend and colleague. I first met Caroline when we were just kids back at school and I was sitting by myself in the playground. She came up to me and asked if I wanted to be friends.
Writing a eulogy provides this important opportunity to tell the life story of your loved one, rather than maintain focus on their death. Identify their full name, where they were born and their family background.
You may also decide to include details about school, education or work if those were big parts of their life. If they were not career oriented you may talk about other life details; such as community service, hobbies, or family.
E.g. Caroline Smith was born on July 5, 1991 in the small town of Berridale in the NSW Snowy Mountains. She was the youngest of four children and the daughter of John and Jane Smith. She went to Jindabyne public school where she decided to pursue a career as a ski instructor.
After introductions, eulogies offer a chance to talk about the impact your loved one had on the world. You may like to talk about their hobbies, their passions and how they impacted the lives of people around them. This can cover their impactful ideas, their influence as a friend or their life values.
E.g Caroline was the most adventurous person I ever met. She was always outside trying new extreme sports and dragging us along for the ride. Her passion for the outdoors inspired so many people to get active and try new things.
You may like to describe how your relationship developed with the person over their life, and share stories, anecdotes or fond memories you shared.
E.g I remember the time Caroline planned an overnight hike in the Tasmanian wilderness and we got caught in a snow-storm. She helped navigate us to shelter and even had a thermos of hot chocolate and marshmallows to keep us warm and keep our spirits high while we waited out the storm.
5. Closing statement
Finish your written speech with a simple statement to farewell the deceased. These words offer the chance to say something profound about the life of the deceased- with popular eulogy examples finishing with a quote, poem, or song lyrics.
E.g We will miss you.
If you are still feeling stuck on writing a eulogy, you may use a more structured eulogy example template like the one below. By filling in the gaps, this can help you find the words to express the impact this person had on your life.
We are all here today for one reason: to celebrate the life of ________ (name of the deceased). ________ (name) came into my life when ________ (details of your meeting). Since then, I have come to realise ________ (name) was the most ________(adjective) person I've ever known. He/She ________ (include a memory or anecdote).
DETAILS OF THEIR LIFE
_________ (name) was born on ________ (birthdate) in _______ (city). He/She was the
______ (first, second, only) child of ________ (father) and ________ (mother). His/her sisters and brothers are ________, ________, and ________ (add more or less as needed). _________ (name) was an ________(adjective) child. (include information about how you met, or an anecdote from their family about their childhood if you didn't grow up together).
THEIR IMPACT ON THE WORLD
_________ (name) had a lasting impact on everyone around them. In high school they developed a passion for ________ (hobby/passion) and it was obvious they were set to change the world in a positive way. When they left school they pursued this ________ (hobby/passion) and turned it into a career. Their love for ________ (hobby/passion) meant they were always ________ (adjective).
My favorite memory of ______ (name) is that time when ______ (memory). (try to tie this memory back to their character – how the deceased was as a person).
The loss of ______ (name) has been devastating for all of us. Even though ______ (name) is gone, we will always have fond memories of our time together.
Earl Spencer's Funeral Oration for Princess Diana
“We are all united not only in our desire to pay our respects to Diana but rather in our need to do so.
For such was her extraordinary appeal that the tens of millions of people taking part in this service all over the world via television and radio who never actually met her, feel that they too lost someone close to them in the early hours of Sunday morning. It is a more remarkable tribute to Diana than I can ever hope to offer her today.
Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality.
Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.
Bindi Irwin's Eulogy for her father Steve Irwin
My Daddy was my hero – he was always there for me when I needed him. He listened to me and taught me so many things, but most of all he was fun. I know that Daddy had an important job. He was working to change the world so everyone would love wildlife like he did. He built a hospital to help animals and he bought lots of land to give animals a safe place to live.
He took me and my brother and my Mum with him all the time.
We filmed together, caught crocodiles together and loved being in the bush together. I don't want Daddy's passion to ever end. I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did.
I have the best Daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day. When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and I know that Daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals. Daddy made this place his whole life and now it's our turn to help Daddy.
Oprah Winfrey's Eulogy for Rosa Parkes
I -- I feel it an honour to be here to come and say a final goodbye.
I grew up in the South, and Rosa Parks was a hero to me long before I recognized and understood the power and impact that her life embodied. I remember my father telling me about this coloured woman who had refused to give up her seat. And in my child's mind, I thought, "She must be really big." I thought she must be at least a hundred feet tall. I imagined her being stalwart and strong and carrying a shield to hold back the white folks.
And then I grew up and had the esteemed honour of meeting her. And wasn't that a surprise. Here was this petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness. And I thanked her then. I said, "Thank you," for myself and for every coloured girl, every coloured boy, who didn't have heroes who were celebrated. Continue reading.
Safewill Cremations offers an affordable and meaningful way to plan a farewell service around you, or your loved ones wishes.
We take care in ensuring all details honour the deceased- whether that's helping you organise the person to deliver the eulogy or the type of memorial or funeral service you opt for.
Reach out today on1300 730 639, or via livechat now.