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Planning a Eulogy.

As part of most funeral ceremonies, someone (a family member, the priest, minister or celebrant) tells an abbreviated Life Story of the one who has died. This is called The Eulogy, from the Greek words “to speak well of”. Often it is difficult to know what to include and what to leave out. Generally speaking, the main Eulogy should include (i) a brief history and (ii) some personal characteristics. Some families use a video presentation in some form as part of the Eulogy. Sometimes a second eulogy is brought from a grandchild, lifetime friend or working associate. Some people choose to present this as a letter read to their deceased loved one.


Everybody is somebody’s hero. When we speak of somebody that we love who has died, a temptation often arises to exaggerate their good points and eliminate their shortcomings. An old adage says that “the older we are, the better we were”. It is good to be realistic in the Eulogy. Certainly, maximize the good, but even a passing reference to the widely known shortcomings of the person who has died will lend credibility to your story.


Traces of genuine humour will often ease the hardest of eulogies. Most people have at least one funny story in their past, usually famous among the family, if no-one else. Depending on the circumstances, including this, can often provide an emotional relief valve to the heaviness of a funeral. Provided you do not set out to be a stand-up comedian or bring into public an essentially private story, a small, genuine piece of humour will highlight the good story you are telling.

Write it out

For two good reasons. First, it tidies your thoughts and presentation. It is easy to think that you will come across more naturally if you speak “off the cuff”. Even if you are skilled and experienced in public speaking, the emotion of the moment can rob you of a key memory you later may wish you had included. If you have limited experience, it is likely that without preparation you will talk for longer than you had planned and get enmeshed in the details of one part of the story, losing the main point.
Second, the act of telling the stories of someone we love often brings uninvited tears and the inability to continue. This is natural. But the story needs to be told, and if you cannot go on, another family member, a friend, the priest, minister or celebrant can take a written script and continue until you are able. Without a script, your valuable thoughts may not be shared as you wish them to be.


Music has a way of both grasping and soothing the emotions. This is especially true at a funeral. Often a key piece of music will follow immediately after the Eulogy, giving everyone present an opportunity to reflect on the life being celebrated. Choose something loved by the family or the person who has died, or music that sums up his or her character. Gone are the days when this music has to be slow and sombre. Unless the words are socially unacceptable, almost anything goes. Download our Eulogy check list by clicking on the link below.”

Download our Eulogy Check list here