It is impossible to sum up a life story in a few minutes. A eulogy does, however, present a perfect opportunity to celebrate one's life by telling stories and recalling memories in valuable and creative ways.
In this section, we provide you with the following advice and things to consider:
A eulogy should be personal – both to you and to everyone else present. It offers you the chance to celebrate a person's life in a way that can resonate with your public, and allow others to call to mind their own special memories.
A helpful eulogy is much more than a list of dates. Often it can be useful to begin with a poem, or a reading, rather than simply with a birth date. If a loved one had a particular spiritual outlook or favourite passage of literature, it may be easy to choose something that sets the tone perfectly.
At other times, a story or a little historical background may help. For example, if a person was born in Warwick in the 1920's, the eulogy might begin with a brief outline of what life was like in the town in those days.
Be sure to talk about your feelings for this special person. Tell stories about your experiences with him or her and share anecdotes – there is no reason to avoid the things that were amusing or even mildly irreverent! Including important 'milestones' – such as birth, marriage, significant moves, changes of career – can also help create structure and context to your story of the person's life.
Also, always check with immediate family members to see if they have a few words or a precious memory they would like shared, as many may feel unable to speak publicly themselves. Try to briefly include these ingredients where possible.
As a very general guide, we offer the following check-list of things you may want to include in your eulogy:
- Birthplace and short details of early childhood
- Educational and sporting achievements, military service
- Marriage and family life
- Hobbies, club memberships, charity involvement
- Preferences in music, literature, theatre
- Characteristic words and sayings
- Personal qualities (perhaps illustrated by stories)
A eulogy may be as long or as short as required to impart a special message about the person. It is your choice as to whether it is 5-10 minutes or a couple of A4 pages.
Many families like to display some photographs or other life symbols at the funeral service.
Sometimes, a family photo or other group shot can be just the thing to capture personality. Photographs do not need to be recent, they just need to be characteristic of a person's life. Most photo-processing outlets can arrange enlargements and enhancement of existing photos quickly and cheaply, should you need.
You may also wish to reflect on the person’s life with a personalised DVD presentation. This memorial tribute merges photographs with music, and when played through a projector and screen it allows everyone present to be fully immersed in the person's life.
Other items might be considered too, such as a favourite hat, a prized trophy, an art or craft sample, or even a tennis racket or golf club. Sometimes family members like to bring these symbolic items with them and place them on or near the casket. This can help to further symbolise a life.
Finally, a carefully chosen piece of music can provide a pleasant reflective space after the eulogy. This may reflect the personal taste of the deceased, or simply be a track that the family find helpful for themselves.
If you would like to discuss writing a eulogy in more detail with one of our experienced staff, please call us directly on: