Eulogy Speech to Remember
by Kevin Burch
Imagine a wedding where the wedding speeches are made by
someone who has never met -- or barely knows -- the bride and
Would that be a shame?
Would it be a lost opportunity for celebrating the lives, the
love and the years that these people have shared and will share,
both with each other and with the audience around them?
And yet all too often, with a funeral, this is exactly what
happens. And people frequently regret it for years to come. "I
wish I'd stood up and said something," they say.
Of course, in a way it's perfectly understandable. The time
between a person's passing and the funeral is naturally a sad
and emotional one for those left behind. And because many people
are at first daunted by the idea of delivering a eulogy, it's
all too easy to leave it to someone else.
And yet the reality is that it doesn't have to be that way. As
well as being a great honor, and an opportunity to do something
of value for everyone who will be there, giving the eulogy is
guaranteed to be a positive and moving experience for the person
who steps up for the task. And, with the right approach and
support, it can actually be pretty straightforward. In all my
years of experience, I have never met anyone who regretted
giving a eulogy.
So if you're at all considering it, take heart, be bold, and go
Because here are the six steps you can take to make the process
easier and even more rewarding for you, for all your own special
Step 1 - Take A Moment for Yourself At a time like this,
it pays to take a little time for yourself, so you can reflect
for a while and connect with your memories of this special
person. Remind yourself of the very good reasons you are doing
this, and also bear in mind the truth, which is that people who
hear your speech will be extremely supportive, and will actually
be grateful to you for doing it.
Step 2 - Decide What Kind of Eulogy There are two kinds
of eulogy - the short biography, and the personal view. You
simply need to choose the right one for you.
The short biography considers someone's life as a whole. That
doesn't mean it covers everything, rather that you start at the
beginning - when and where they were born, etc. - and mention
the various parts of their life, up until their last days. This
way you touch on the different aspects of their life, plus it
can also be a very personal approach, especially when you
include happy stories and memories.
The personal view is more like a slice of the person's life, a
series of snapshots. It can be purely your own experiences,
stories and impressions of their character, or you can include
other people's memories too. This is very poignant, especially
if you write as if you are talking directly to the person who
has gone, e.g. "I'll always remember the time when you..."
Some funerals have both kinds of eulogy - a short biography from
a family member, plus a personal view from a colleague or
friend, for example.
Step 3 - Collect Your Building Blocks What if you could
imagine floating up in a balloon, and looking down on someone's
life as a series of photographs laid out below you?
This step is simply collecting those photos. You can rely on
your own memories and knowledge, or ask others for their input.
You might ask about their most precious memories, or things they
remember that really show the person's character. And you can
also gather facts on the person's childhood, family, career,
pastimes, passions, dreams, best ever holidays, etc.
Bear in mind that humour is a good thing. Yes, funerals are sad,
but this person also had happy and funny times in their life,
and telling stories of these can be a great way to really bring
their memory to life. And you'll be giving people the healing
gift of laughter.
Step 4 - Bring Your Building Blocks Together Every eulogy
has an opening, a middle and a closing.
For the opening you might simply welcome people and acknowledge
the sadness of the day. For the closing you can sum up the
person's character, say how much they'll be missed, thank those
who have helped, and perhaps invite people back somewhere.
And for the middle, simply put your building blocks in broadly
chronological order, as if you were having a conversation about
the person. If you want to keep your speech to about five
minutes, you may need to discard some building blocks - trust
your own best judgement on this.
Step 5 - Rehearse and Refine Once you've drafted out your
speech, you need to read it aloud a few times, because this way
you'll naturally notice improvements you can make.
You can also borrow a wonderful technique which Olympic athletes
use to calm their nerves. What they do is, they make a movie of
themselves running the race, with everything going well (see
yourself giving the eulogy, with everything going well). And
once they're happy with the movie, they step inside and run it
again, looking out through their own eyes, hearing through their
own ears, and feeling how good it feels to have everything going
well like this.
Muhammad Ali did this many times for every fight he ever had,
which is one reason his predictions so often came true. And you
can use the same approach to make sure you deliver this eulogy
really well too.
Step 6 - Delivering the Eulogy This is a time to make
things easy for yourself. If you can, find out beforehand about
the room layout, the lectern, the microphone, how many people
will be there, etc. The more you know the more confident you
will feel. Also, if you had any concern about being too
emotional, ask someone to stand by as your back-up person for
reading the eulogy, as this will again boost your confidence.
Then, on the day, print the eulogy out double spaced so that
it's easy for you to keep your place, take two copies of it just
in case, and carry a small bottle of water so you can keep your
mouth moist before and during your speech.
My friend, when you follow these steps, you will be doing a
great service in three ways:
1. To the special person who has gone, by honoring their memory
2. To the people who hear you, by giving them the gifts of
sharing, of fondly remembering, and of healing 3. To you, by
giving yourself the chance to do something special, to heal
yourself at an even deeper level, and to know you have made a
And as you look at it like that, I wonder how easily you can now
see what a wonderful thing it is to give the eulogy, to share
the memories and stories, and to bring some love and laughter at
a time of sorrow and loss.
Kevin Burch is a Professional Funeral Presider and author of the
eulogy guide 'A Eulogy to Remember - How to give a great eulogy
in six simple steps'. The guide shows you a simple, six-step
process for successfully writing and delivering a eulogy, plus
it includes example eulogies, appropriate poems, quotes, and
You can download Section One of 'A Eulogy to Remember' for free
- and the complete guide at a discount - by visiting
© Empowering Publications
article re-published 4 August 2006