When one begins to prepare for writing a eulogy, it may be helpful to keep in mind the point of a eulogy. The point may vary slightly based on each person’s beliefs and preferences, but in general the point of a eulogy is to provide a glimpse into the character and life of the deceased.
There will often be more than one person delivering a eulogy. Each may have a different perspective on the deceased, but the point remains the same. Keeping the points of a eulogy in mind will help you in your writing. Below are a few bullet points to consider.
- Show the audience how the deceased lived his/her life
- Show the audience the kind of person the deceased was
- Show the audience the way the deceased like to spend his or her time
- Highlight accomplishments, both personal and professional, for which the deceased was proud
- Share, if applicable, how the deceased actions positively impacted people around him
If you keep those points in mind, it might provide inspiration as you ponder talking points for the eulogy. Just as important as it is to consider the point of a eulogy, it is also a good idea to keep in mind what the eulogy is NOT intended to do.
- Focus on the speaker’s emotions
- Highlight character flaws of the deceased
- Say anything that could be embarrassing to the deceased or his family
As you begin to craft the eulogy, keeping the above points in mind, draw on stories that will illustrate the point rather than telling it. Below is an example.
The point: Deceased was very caring and generous.
Example of telling: John was very generous. He loved to help homeless people and had a soft spot for children in need.
Example of showing: John typically used his Christmas bonus to buy items for a couple of local homeless shelters. One year, he bought toys for every single child in a shelter that housed families in crisis.
By using stories, you will paint a more effective picture of the deceased.
Keeping the point of a eulogy in mind will help you pick and choose which types of stories and anecdotes to include in the eulogy.
As is true in many areas of life, sometimes things are better left unsaid. One of the points of a eulogy is to remember what was good about the life of the deceased, and help the audience understand more about the man or woman who has died.
As you prepare to write a eulogy, you will need to gather a list of appropriate quotes and scriptures from which you can make selections to include in the eulogy. Below are just a few examples of Bible verses and quotes that are appropriate for use in a eulogy.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Psalm 23:1-6
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For he who has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Romans 6:3-9
7 None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Romans 14:7-9
It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. -Samuel Johnson
To die completely, a person must not only forget but be forgotten, and he who is not forgotten is not dead. -Samuel Butler
For a man who has done his natural duty, death is as natural as sleep. -George Santayana
And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. -Abraham Lincoln
Putting together a touching and meaningful eulogy can seem difficult for a number of reasons. One of the most obvious is that you are likely trying to eulogize someone that you cared about, and the pain of the loss is brand new. This can make finding inspiration a bit difficult.
One of the best ways to find inspiration when writing a eulogy is to draw on memories. As you begin to write, try to remember if he said anything that would lend itself to your eulogy. For example, a woman was writing a eulogy for her brother who had died after a long battle with cancer. About a month before he died he said, “Sometimes we have to give in and let go.” She used that as the opening line of the eulogy.
It is not just spoken words that can be incorporated into a eulogy. Use your lifetime of memories of the one being eulogized to help bring the eulogy to life. You can do this by mentioning what he liked to do, funny things that he said or even a memorable faux pas that he made. Each of those can add another layer to the eulogy and will help those gathered to learn something about him that they did not know.
A very effective writing tool is to use a memory as a thread that runs through the eulogy. This will help to tie the whole thing together, making it even more impactful and memorable. Below is a brief example of how to use a memory in this way.
In the opening paragraph:
When we were kids, he always had to be first. First at the table. First to the school bus. First to the pile of presents under the Christmas tree.
About halfway through the eulogy:
One of the reasons that he loved being first was that he’d be able to have something to teach those of us who showed up later. If he got the Christmas tree first, he could say “Your presents are over there!” If he got to the table first, he could say “You won’t like the vegetables tonight!” He loved to have a bit of knowledge that the rest of us didn’t have yet.
In the closing paragraph:
He loved to be first. Now, he is first to pass from this life. I believe that he is waiting for us, and will greet us with that big grin, and an eagerness to show us all around his wonderful new home.
Of course, a brief mention of a memory can be just as meaningful. Just be careful not to weigh down the eulogy with a long list of memories. Instead, choose one or two of your favorites and incorporate them in such a way that they flow well with the rest of the eulogy.