This article was originally published on HowToWrite
If you need to learn how to write a eulogy, don’t fret. Just break up the task into these steps:
1. Don’t lose your a sense of humor. I know this is a tough time, but try to reflect on the good times you had with your loved one. Just because it’s a funeral doesn’t mean you have to be somber the entire time. People are there to celebrate this person’s life and sharing some positive or funny stories can go a long way to lighten the mood.
2. What are your favorite memories of the deceased? What are your favorite stories concerning this person? What did she do that made her special? What made him tick? Think about special talents, hobbies, clubs, career, etc. Think about the times you shared together and the effect the deceased had on other people. Maybe you took a fishing trip together every year or maybe he drove you crazy because you could never beat him at golf! Jot down anything that comes to mind, even if it seems silly, and you can put the best stories in your speech later.
3. Ask others for their favorite stories and memories. While you may have enough memories of your loved one to write the eulogy yourself, you don’t want the eulogy to be completely from your point of view. Ask a few close family and friends for their favorite memories and take notes. Again, you are not going to use all of the material you have, but just write down as much as possible so you have something to work with. If someone shared a good quote, make sure to write it down.
4. Organize your notes and thoughts. Put a star by the best stories and ideas. If your loved one was standing over your shoulder, what would she want you to write? Think of how think of how he would want to be remembered.
5. Sit down and write. Keep it in a conversational tone–just as you would normally talk–rather than an unnatural, formal one. You should highlight the deceased’s important milestones, but there’s no need to document every detail of their life. That’s what the obituary is for. If you’re honest and speak from the heart, using feelings, rather than facts about the person, your eulogy will be more meaningful. I’ve found that using notes, rather than writing every word of the speech out, helps me to avoid reading and keeps me in a more conversational tone. But do whatever you’re comfortable with.
6. Practice. Stand in front of a mirror with your notes and practice the eulogy until you are comfortable with it.
7. Deliver. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. People don’t expect nor are they looking for perfect. It’s a funeral. It’s easier said than done, but stay as relaxed as possible given the circumstances. People are there to remember a loved one, not to judge you. Speak in a natural, conversational tone, which will help you stay more relaxed. Make sure to look up and make eye contact with the audience. If you need to take a minute to cry or catch your breath, it’s okay. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and everyone will understand.
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