How To Write a Meaningful Eulogy for a Loved One: Guide

Giving a eulogy for a loved one is a great honor. However, being tasked to write and give a speech during such a difficult time can feel overwhelming. How do you summarize a life into one speech and make it meaningful?

A meaningful eulogy comes from the heart and honors your loved one. The best way to write a meaningful tribute is to think about the highlights of the person’s life, how they impacted the world around them, and how they would want to be remembered. 

This article will describe the different sections of a eulogy and what to include in each part. It’ll also have some examples to draw inspiration from and some tips to keep in mind when writing and presenting your eulogy.

What Makes a Eulogy Meaningful?

Before crafting a eulogy, it is crucial to take a moment and remember why you are writing one in the first place. Eulogies are essentially short speeches that serve as a way to remember and honor the deceased. So, what makes a eulogy particularly meaningful?

Meaningful eulogies allow loved ones to think of fond memories, hear loving stories, and remember good times. Meaningful eulogies highlight the deceased’s life, their impact on the world and their community, and their impact on you and their family. 

How To Prepare to Write a Meaningful Eulogy

Writing a eulogy for a loved one is an honor, but it can also feel like a daunting task. The eulogy is an integral part of the service, so you don’t want to take the duty lightly. However, writing a meaningful tribute can be therapeutic and a great way to work through your grief. This can also allow you to help others deal with their grieving process.

Before you start the writing process, you’ll want to take some time to think about your loved one. Here are a few questions you may want to ponder before sitting down to write the eulogy:

  • How would I describe my loved one?
  • What are some personal stories I have that exemplify their best character traits?
  • How did they impact their community?
  • What will the world miss the most now that they are gone?
  • What were some of their favorite things?
  • Are there any quotes, poems, or songs that represent them or that they loved?
  • How would they want to be remembered?

It is important to remember that the eulogy should focus on your loved one. While it is a great idea to include personal stories and other anecdotes about what they meant to you, be sure to focus on how they lived their life and what that meant to those around them. A meaningful eulogy is one from which all attendees can draw meaning.

You’ll also want to take a moment to think about the tone that you want to convey with your speech. Some choose to set a tone of seriousness and focus on what the world has lost. 

However, others take a lighter and more humorous approach and talk about what the world gained from their presence. Whatever you choose should represent the person and how they want to be remembered.

Writing the Eulogy

Now that you’ve taken the time to brainstorm and think about what you want to include in the eulogy, it is time to start writing. Even though this is a speech, writing a script for what you’d like 

to say is always a good idea.

Writing the speech can help you think about what you want to say and figure out exactly how you want to say it. It is also helpful to have a physical copy with you during the speech to help keep you on track and remember everything you wanted to share.

Eulogy Structure

When writing the eulogy, it is best to think about it in three parts:

  • Introduction. This section will serve as your opener and set the tone for the rest of the eulogy.
  • Body. This is the most important part of the eulogy and will include the most detail about the person’s life.
  • Closing. This portion will be the shortest of all the eulogy sections and will serve as a quick wrap-up or take away from the speech.

Segmenting your speech into three sections will help you with the writing process and give your eulogy a flow that the audience can follow.

The length of the eulogy can vary depending on how much you want to share. Most eulogies last between five and fifteen minutes, so you’ll want to aim for about 1,000 to 3,000 written words. Of course, the length is ultimately up to you. Just keep in mind that the longer you talk, the less people are likely to listen and remember what you’ve said.

Now that we have an idea of the length and the sections to include, let’s start writing.

How To Open a Eulogy

The beginning of the eulogy will serve as the speech’s introduction. Here you’ll want to include things like:

  • Basic information about the deceased. In the first part of the eulogy, you’ll want to note who the tribute is honoring. This portion can include nicknames, maiden names, meaningful relationships they had, important titles they held, and essential characteristics that describe them.
  • Who you are to the deceased. If it hasn’t already been said, you’ll also want to briefly introduce yourself and your relation to your loved one.
  • Surviving family members. A eulogy can also note other close friends and family that have survived the deceased.
  • A personal story to set the tone. Some choose to start with a personal story to set the tone for the eulogy or introduce who the deceased was to them or their loved ones.

The introduction should serve as a quick highlight of who the person was and what you will talk about during the eulogy. This section should grab the audience’s attention and set the mood for the rest of the speech.

For example, if you want the eulogy to be more lighthearted and fun, like your best friend who always found humor in every situation, start with a joke or funny story. Or, if your mother spent her weekends working with her favorite charity, you can tell the story about the first time she took you to volunteer and taught you the importance of giving back to the community.

Open Casket in an abandoned funeral home

The Body of the Eulogy

The middle section of the eulogy is the essential part. Here, you will detail aspects of the deceased’s life, such as:

  • Major life accomplishments.
  • Adventures they embarked on.
  • Their childhood years.
  • The family they created.
  • Fond memories.
  • Their impact on others.
  • Values that were important to them.
  • Their favorite things in life.
  • How they liked to spend their time.
  • Anything else you want to share.

You can approach this section in several ways. Some people choose to tell the deceased’s life story from birth to death, highlighting accomplishments along the way. Others choose to stick to a theme and tell personal stories that reflect that.

Whatever structure you choose, use this time to convey what was important to your loved one. Remember that the eulogy is a tribute to your loved one’s life, so you want to represent that in your speech as accurately and fondly as possible. 

How To End a Eulogy

In some ways, the ending of the eulogy is the most challenging part of the speech. In this section, you’ll want to provide a nice wrap-up for your tribute. This section can include things such as:

  • A quote, song lyric, or saying that was meaningful to your loved one.
  • A final takeaway that you want the audience to remember.
  • How you will remember your loved one.
  • How your loved one would like to be remembered.
  • A message for your loved one, such as “we will miss you” or something more personal.

People often find that the proper ending will come to them as they write the eulogy, so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t sure what you will say when you first sit down to write.

Examples of Meaningful Eulogies

Regarding speech writing, it is often helpful to see examples of tributes from people in similar situations. Here are a few eulogy examples and valuable tips for each kind of eulogy to help inspire you.

Eulogy for a Parent

While it is a sad realization, many children will outlive their parents. Therefore, it is common for a child to give a eulogy at their parent’s funeral. A eulogy for a parent can draw on personal experiences from your childhood, how they helped shape you as a person, and the life lessons you learned from them.

For a great example, see the YouTube video below from Harry Locke IV, where he gives a eulogy at his father’s funeral:

Eulogy for a Child

Of all the eulogy types, a eulogy for a child is especially difficult. When a child dies, the tribute is usually given by a parent or other close relative. Depending on the age of the child, you can call attention to certain things, such as:

  • Favorite things.
  • Sports and hobbies.
  • How they did in school.
  • What they wanted to be when they grew up.
  • Their friends, siblings, or other family members.
  • How they made you smile or life.
  • Lessons they taught you.

For an example of a eulogy for a child, check out this eulogy from Ben Baran for his 7-year-old son, Vincent Baran:

Eulogy for a Spouse

When you have a longtime partner, one of you will likely pass before the other. Spouses often touch on the following when giving a eulogy for a lost partner:

  • Adventures you had together.
  • Stories about your families or the family you build together.
  • How you met.
  • Stories from when you first started dating.
  • Life accomplishments you witnessed.
  • Things you will never forget about them.

For an example of a eulogy for a spouse, watch Vanessa Bryant give a tribute to her late husband, Kobe Bryant:

Eulogy for a Family Member

If you are a close relative of the deceased, you may have the opportunity to give a eulogy. When giving a tribute to a family member, here are a few examples of things you could talk about:

  • Their interests or passions.
  • Their influence on you, your family, or the community.
  • Notable life accomplishments.
  • Funny or sweet family stories.
  • Something that won’t be the same without them.

Here is an example of a eulogy from Corey Ford for his grandmother:

Eulogy for a Friend

Eulogies aren’t just for family members; it’s also common for close friends to give eulogies for their loved ones. In a tribute to a friend, you may write about:

  • How you met.
  • Adventures you had together.
  • How they felt about their family.
  • Their best qualities and personality traits.
  • Funny stories you have that their family may not know about.

Below is an excellent example of a eulogy for a friend:

Tips for Writing and Presenting a Eulogy

No matter how much you prepare for the writing process of the presentation, writing and presenting a eulogy will be difficult. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when writing and giving the eulogy:

  • Introduce yourself. It is easy to forget that, even though you were an important figure in your loved one’s life, not everyone in attendance may know who you are. If you aren’t introduced, take a moment to say who you are and what your relationship was with the deceased.
  • Bring your notes. It is a great idea to bring your notes to the podium with you. No matter how much you practice, it is easy to draw a blank when on the spot. Having your notes on hand will help you stay on track.
  • Don’t overthink it. Eulogies aren’t formal speeches. Don’t overthink what you are writing or how you are saying certain things. If you are speaking from your heart, it will be meaningful.
  • Don’t be afraid to use humor. Humor is actually a great source of relief in times of grief. If there is a joke you want to include or a story you want to tell, include it! Just make sure it is family-friendly and appropriate for the situation.
  • It’s okay to get emotional. No one expects you to keep your composure. A funeral is a sad event and a rough time for everyone involved. It’s okay if you get choked up during the speech. Showing emotion will not only help your grieving process but those around you as well.

Final Thoughts

Being asked to give a eulogy can feel overwhelming, but the task is a great honor. Take some time to think about your loved one, their greatest character traits, their impact on the world, and how they want to be remembered.

By following the process outlined above and using the examples as inspiration, you should be able to create your own meaningful eulogy for your loved one. Just remember to speak from the heart.

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Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

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