How to Write a Eulogy for a Loved One

Being invited to write a eulogy is a real honour, but it can also be challenging—especially when you’re struggling with loss.

Writing a eulogy can be daunting. Right in the middle of dealing with your grief, you have to find a way to put pen to paper, to say goodbye to someone you loved dearly - then work up the nerve to speak in front of a crowd.

To help you approach the task, we've put together some helpful tips, covering everything from how to write a eulogy, to how long a eulogy should be. To begin with, you may also find it helpful to look at some examples of eulogies.

What should be included in a eulogy?

When working out how to write a eulogy, start with brainstorming. Write down your memories of your loved one, ask friends and relatives to share theirs, and look at objects that spark ideas, such as photographs and letters. Once you have enough notes, choose the most important points. Remember, you can't - and shouldn't mention everything; instead, focus on the qualities and experiences that made your loved one so special to you and others.

For example, if they loved mountain climbing, don't list every peak they ever summited; instead, tell a tale about one of their most impressive trips or achievements.

How to write a eulogy in 8 steps

When deciding what you want to include in a eulogy it can be helpful to follow a structure and break up your thoughts into different sections or aspects of your loved one's life. As a guide consider following these 8 steps:

  1. Introduce yourself and outline your relationship with your loved one.
  2. Cover their early life, such as birthplace and family members.
  3. Speak to their education, such as school and/or university.
  4. Cover their working life, including details of one or two significant or meaningful jobs.
  5. Spend time on important adult relationships, such as partners, friends and/or children.
  6. Share their interests, hobbies and/or activities.
  7. Include an emotional statement about what your loved one meant to you. You might include advice they shared and reflect on the value and importance of their life.
  8. Try to end on a positive note. Humour delivered in the right way can help lift the mood.

How should a eulogy be structured?

The next step in writing a eulogy is deciding on a structure.

Below is an example structure that you may want to follow or use as a guide as you write your own personal piece. For each step, rather than simply running through details, consider stating just a couple of facts, then tell an interesting story. This can help capture the essence of your loved one's life instead of getting caught up in the details.

For example, straight after school, John studied arts at university. But it was at that point that he developed a keen interest in playing guitar, so he was more often spotted on stage at the uni bar than at his study desk. I remember, one night, he was on stage when Tommy Emmanuel walked in.

How long should a eulogy be?

It really depends on you how long a eulogy should be, but, as a rule of thumb, around five minutes is a good length to aim for.

How to prepare for, and deliver, a eulogy

To help you feel as comfortable as possible on the day, learn your eulogy as thoroughly as possible - and practice it, preferably in front of other people. Being as familiar with your eulogy as possible will help on the day when emotions take over.

Chances are you'll feel nervous on the day but try to remember the audience is there to support you. Most people respond to nerves by speaking quickly, so slow down. Speak as slowly as you can - then slower!

Eulogy writers

If you find you are really struggling to convey how you feel and put pen to paper you could also consider hiring a eulogy writer to help you capture your thoughts and emotions.

The role of life insurance and funeral insurance

Knowing that you have life insurance or funeral insurance cover can bring reassurance to relatives - right when they need it most - by reducing any stress associated with finances.

Whether it's for short term expenses such as paying for funeral expenses, or longer term worries about how to keep the family home, knowing there is some financial support planned can bring a sense of relief during an already difficult situation.

Learn more about our life insurance and funeral insurance products, or get a life insurance quote or funeral insurance quote.