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What is a Eulogy?

A eulogy is a speech generally given at a funeral or memorial service for someone who has passed away. A eulogy can be delivered by a family member, friend, priest, minister, or any other bereaved community member or procession attendee.

The eulogy can be written and presented in a variety of ways. For starters, the eulogy is meant to help express words and emotions that the entire community and bereaved may be feeling, illustrate who the loved one was by sharing memories, anecdotes, and stories that can paint a picture of the person’s life and personality, comment on the loved one’s devotion and dedication to their faith (if applicable), and offer words of comfort.

Above everything, it’s important to write from the heart. Since the eulogy is meant to help express what those that are grieving are feeling and to provide comfort, it’s important to be authentic. If a priest, clergy member, rabbi, or procession leader is not as familiar with the individual, it is common for them to ask friends and family for anecdotes and make specific references to the person’s life before writing a eulogy to make the eulogy more personal. Besides speaking from the heart, the most well-spoken eulogies often employ the use of a theme that can serve as the narrative arch across the entire eulogy. Some common examples of eulogy themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Community impact: It’s often the case that a loved one made an impact on those around them, so it’s a good theme for highlighting a loved one’s qualities in front of the people they impacted.
  • Devotion to religion: Someone who may have been religious might be described as “had an unwavering faith in God” which showed through their many acts of love and kindness. Additionally, religion can be used to describe how the person “ascended to heaven” or “
  • Nature: Many people use nature metaphors to paint a picture of a loved one’s final resting place, for example, as a garden or a natural setting. Other symbols that can be used are flowing rivers, a brilliant sun, the sound of birds chirping and the rustle of leaves, etc.
  • Sense of humor or personality trait: Your loved one might be known for a personality trait that those around them love them for. Centering your eulogy around these traits can connect your audience with each other as well as with the person who passed away and is a great way to remember the impact someone had on those around them.
  • Altruism: If your loved one was involved in charitable giving, community service, or passionate about helping those around them, speaking about the ways they helped others is a great jumping off point. Honoring the selflessness of someone who has passed away is common in eulogies and is an especially good idea if they were passionate about community involvement or charity.
  • Devotion to their family: There are some people that base their life's purpose around their family and it shows. Many of these people have extremely strong families and others in their family that credit their success to the support, love, and devotion their loved one had to their family. Speaking to someone's love of family and their support of their family can be common in eulogies, especially for closer families.

Finally, a eulogy will also include several other traditional phrases and practices that are meant to commemorate the individual. These include:

  • If you are not a family member, sharing condolences with the deceased’s closest family members
  • Thanking the audience for coming together to celebrate the life of a loved one

While you’re writing a eulogy, consider creating a memorial website for your loved one on Ever Loved, where you can share an obituary, send a funeral announcement and track RSVPs, and collect stories, memories, and condolences from the community.

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Last updated February 23, 2021
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