Search Box Here
LIFE CAT COLUMN
DeathWriting an ObituaryAn obituary includes a biographical outline and possibly a picture of the deceased. As early as possible, begin compiling the information for the obituary. Friends and family can help write this. Choosing a Funeral HomeHere are a few "starter" tips, questions and things to know when choosing a funeral home.Low-Cost Funeral OptionsToday's average funeral costs upwards of $7,755. Fortunately, there are ways to lower funeral costs. Average Funeral CostsHere is a list of the average costs of funeral items and services, taken from the National Funeral Directors Association 2010 General Price List Survey. Please contact your local funeral directors for a General Price List for prices in your area.Planning a Funeral Memorial FundsFamilies often want to set up memorial funds so money can be donated in memory of their loved one. If you are considering this, and are wondering where money can be donated, here are a few ideas to get you started.Choosing CremationHere are some starter questions if you choose to visit a crematorium (or what to ask your funeral director if you don't go yourself).Planning a Funeral Military HonorsMilitary Funeral Honors are provided whenever possible. Law mandates the rendering of Military Funeral Honors for an eligible veteran if requested by the family.Making Funeral ArrangementsMaking funeral arrangements involves many different tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, since many of these things happen simultaneously.Preparing a EulogyA eulogy is a tribute to a person's life, usually read at funerals or memorial services. Choosing a CasketCaskets hold the body before burial or cremation. Choosing OrganBody DonationIf your loved one requested organ donation or that his or her body be donated to a medical school, here are some things to know.Dividing Up Family HeirloomsWhat happens to possessions after the owner has passed on? Family members might battle over Mom's emerald earrings, Dad's golf clubs or even Grandma's yellow pie plate. Choosing a CemeteryYou will need to choose a location for burial or cremated remains if the deceased has not previously paid for a cemetery plot. You may wish to have a trusted friend or family member assist you in gathering and reviewing the information. Planning a Funeral 5 Common QuestionsHere are answers to common questions about planning a funeral.Common Estate and Inheritance Tax TermsCommon Estate and Inheritance Tax Terms These are simple, starter definitions for estate and inheritance taxes. Check with your financial advisor before doing anything. Estate Tax The Estate Tax is a transfer tax, which taxes the amount of wealth tr
LIFE AD SPACE

Preparing a Eulogy

A eulogy is a tribute to a person's life, usually read at funerals or memorial services. Eulogies can vary in length, subject matter and even style: one eulogy might include a list of important achievements while another might be a written as a poem (also known as an elegy).

Who Gives the Eulogy?

A eulogy is usually presented by someone who had a close relationship with the loved one, but many often ask friends, clergy, coworkers or other individuals to write or present a eulogy on their behalf.

Selecting Someone to Give the Eulogy

The selected person(s) may have been named in your loved one's will or funeral pre-arrangement documents.

Not sure if your loved one named someone to give a eulogy? Ask the will's executor if there is any mention of who should give a eulogy.

If no one has been selected to give a eulogy, think of individuals who had an important relationship or connection to the loved one (family, friends, coworkers, bosses, teammates, etc).

"It should be a person whose judgment you respect," says Prof. Willie Elliott, D. Min., Associate Professor of Social Work & Director of Social Work Program at the University of Northern Kentucky, who also gave the eulogy and presided over his own mother's funeral service. "They may present the facts of someone's life, but a eulogy is more than that: it is a tribute to a person."

Can't find anyone you're comfortable with? Consider asking your religious leader or the funeral director to deliver a eulogy.

Found someone? Give the person as much information about the loved one as possible. Pass on contact information for friends and family who would be willing to share information, stories, photos, videos – anything you feel might help them as they write.

Writing a Eulogy

If you're chosen to write a eulogy:

Ask for help
Talk with the person's friends and families for ideas and material. "Don't put it all on yourself to write it all," says Amanda Carmichael from TN, who recently gave a eulogy at her grandmother's funeral. "Do some reporting and ask others to share something. I know my family would've loved to…say something but they knew they wouldn't be able to get through it. I know they appreciated that their words were still part of something so special and personal for us all."

Consult with the minister, priest, funeral director, rabbi, etc. who is leading the service for advice. They might have books or other tips to pass on to you about how to write a eulogy.

Choose significant or shared events, characteristics and stories to put in your eulogy.

  • Birthdays
  • Clubs or organizations
  • Favorite hobbies/activities
  • Favorite things – music, movies, actors, books
  • Important achievements – work, education, community
  • Prized possessions – cars, collectables, favorite armchair
  • Unique characteristics – their choice of clothing; their way of laughing, telling stories, talking
  • Vacations
  • Work experiences

Also, consider including:

  • An introduction of who you are and your relationship with the deceased
  • Quotes or memories from others you spoke with
  • Favorite passages, movies, books, etc., of the person you're eulogizing

"Remember, you are doing this for the deceased but also for ALL those left behind," says Carmichael. "Although I wanted to write this for my family, I had to incorporate some more general things about [my Grannyma] so everyone could feel they related to what I was saying."

WHN Tip: Consider the people you're talking to.
Some things that might be funny to your friends and age group might not be appropriate for everyone attending. Err on the sides of caution, respect and dignity.

Make the eulogy easy to read. Print the eulogy on index cards or on sheets of paper using large-type font.

Practice the eulogy a few times beforehand and consider timing yourself for length.

Ask how much time you'll have so you can plan accordingly. If you are told 'any time is fine' – speak for about 10 minutes.

If you do plan to rehearse the eulogy for family or friends before the funeral, understand that others might respond emotionally.

"I read it to my family before I read it in the funeral," says Prof. Elliott. "I was surprised by the extreme reaction of the outpouring of grief my statements brought about, it seemed my saying made [the loss] more real for many of my family. So be ready for a big response dependent upon who reads it and how they read it."

Giving a Eulogy

Arrive to the service well ahead of the scheduled starting time. This is a good time to get comfortable with the surrounding and mentally prepare yourself. Bring tissues and a bottle of water to have with you while you speak.

Breathe. When giving the eulogy, take your time, take deep breaths and go slow. "I looked at the back of the sanctuary and at no one in particular…that really helped," says Carmichael. Take a drink of water, if you need time to compose yourself.

Make copies. Are the some people who can't make it to the service? Record the eulogy on an mp3 player, videotape it or make copies so you can provide it to anyone who requests a copy or audio version.

Need help arranging a funeral or memorial service? Consider these other articles:

Making Funeral Arrangements

Choosing a Funeral Home

Writing an Obituary

Other Life Pages
DeathAverage Funeral Costs

Here is a list of the average costs of funeral items and services, taken from the National Funeral Directors Association 2010 General Price List Survey. Please contact your local funeral directors for a General Price List for prices in your area.

 Read More
Choosing a Casket

Caskets hold the body before burial or cremation.

 Read More
Choosing a Cemetery

You will need to choose a location for burial or cremated remains if the deceased has not previously paid for a cemetery plot. You may wish to have a trusted friend or family member assist you in gathering and reviewing the information.

 Read More
Choosing a Funeral Home

Here are a few "starter" tips, questions and things to know when choosing a funeral home.

 Read More
Choosing Cremation

Here are some starter questions if you choose to visit a crematorium (or what to ask your funeral director if you don't go yourself).

 Read More
Choosing OrganBody Donation

If your loved one requested organ donation or that his or her body be donated to a medical school, here are some things to know.

 Read More
Common Estate and Inheritance Tax Terms

These are simple, starter definitions for estate and inheritance taxes. Check with your financial advisor before doing anything.

 Read More
Dividing Up Family Heirlooms

What happens to possessions after the owner has passed on? Family members might battle over Mom's emerald earrings, Dad's golf clubs or even Grandma's yellow pie plate.

 Read More
Low-Cost Funeral Options

Today's average funeral costs upwards of $7,755. Fortunately, there are ways to lower funeral costs.

 Read More
Making Funeral Arrangements

Making funeral arrangements involves many different tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, since many of these things happen simultaneously.

 Read More
Planning a Funeral 5 Common Questions

Here are answers to common questions about planning a funeral.

 Read More
Planning a Funeral Memorial Funds

Families often want to set up memorial funds so money can be donated in memory of their loved one. If you are considering this, and are wondering where money can be donated, here are a few ideas to get you started.

 Read More
Planning a Funeral Military Honors

Military Funeral Honors are provided whenever possible. Law mandates the rendering of Military Funeral Honors for an eligible veteran if requested by the family.

 Read More
Preparing a Eulogy

A eulogy is a tribute to a person's life, usually read at funerals or memorial services.

 Read More
Writing an Obituary

An obituary includes a biographical outline and possibly a picture of the deceased. As early as possible, begin compiling the information for the obituary. Friends and family can help write this.

 Read More