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Helpful Hints to Writing a Meaningful Eulogy

Ideas For Creating a Meaningful Eulogy
By Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Someone you love has died. You may be feeling numb, sad, angry and helpless. Despite these natural and necessary grief feelings, you are now planning a funeral that will be meaningful to your family.

Funeral ceremonies help us begin to heal. And often, the more personalized the ceremony, the more healing and meaningful it will be to you, your family and friends. One important way of making this funeral a unique, fitting tribute to the person whodied, is through the eulogy.

Ideas for Creating a Meaningful Eulogy

1. The purpose of eulogy is to summarize a person’s life in a positive way. Also called the “remembrance” or the “homily,” the eulogy acknowledges the unique life of the person who died and affirms the significance of that life for all who shared in it.

2. A clergy person, a family member, or a friend of the person who died may deliver the eulogy. This person is called the “eulogist.”

3. If the eulogist didn’t really know the person who died, make an effort to share with him or her anecdotes and memories that are important to you. Ask yourself, “What stands out to me about this person’s life?”, “What are some special memories I’d like to share?”, “When were some times I felt particularly close to this person?”, or “What were some admirable qualities about this person?”

4. Instead of a traditional eulogy delivered by one person, you may choose to ask several people to share their memories. This may be done formally by having three or four people speak in succession at the podium, or informally by asking those attending the funeral to stand up and share memories spontaneously.

5. If there is time, the person who will be delivering the eulogy may phone friends and family members and ask them for their recollections and stories. The eulogist can then incorporate these memories into the eulogy as he or she prepares it.

6. Not everyone feels comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. Before the service begins, you may ask friends and family to write down a cherished memory on paper you provide. Those memories can then be read later in the ceremony or collected in the form of a scrapbook for mourners to take home with them.

7. The word eulogy comes from the Greek “eulogia,” meaning praise or blessing. This is a time to give thanks for a person’s life and to honor his or her memory. This is not a time to bring up painful or difficult memories, but to emphasize the good we can find in all people.

8. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to eulogize the person who died. If you attempt to share memories and honor the person’s life, you will have created a meaningful eulogy.

Additional Planning Resources

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