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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: April 2024

How to Write a Eulogy

Seth D Kramer


  • Delivering a eulogy is a big responsibility, and it’s important to ensure the speech is appropriate and deeply felt.
  • Writing and delivering a eulogy can be a very emotional experience that comes along at a most trying time.
How to Write a Eulogy

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I am now “of a certain age” at which I am confronted with announcements about memorial services for friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. In such circumstances, I adhere to this adage: Always go to the funeral. I find the experience both moving and peaceful. And as a result, I hear a lot of eulogies; some are better than others. This made me wonder—what makes a good eulogy?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term “eulogy” is defined as “a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, typically someone who has just died.” And “praise” is the operative concept. The word’s origin is from the Greek eulogia, according to a blog post by Lee-Ellena Funeral Home, which can mean “true words of praise.”

Often the deceased will be someone loved and greatly admired by the person giving the eulogy. Delivering a eulogy is clearly an awesome and solemn responsibility, and it’s important to ensure the speech is appropriate and deeply felt. So how does one start?

One very 21st-century way to go is to use artificial intelligence. For example, the website offers this service: “Relieve stress and put your stories and emotions into a heartfelt eulogy with help from AI.” Upon providing anecdotes and stories about the deceased, the website will generate “three personalized eulogy drafts.”

But assuming you want to prepare a eulogy in the more traditional way, the first thing to be aware of is the length of time for the eulogy. And in that regard, there is no “standard” length. In some circumstances, a 10- to 15-minute eulogy may be appropriate. However, according to, “3-5 minutes is common.” Regardless, one should always check how the service will be conducted and the length that works the best. Personally, I prefer shorter eulogies, around the five-minute mark.

Starting the eulogy should be a very straightforward thing. suggests, “At the start of a eulogy, one of the first things you should include is who you are.” From my standpoint, this is very important. I can recall listening to very touching eulogies that were given without any clear context on the speaker’s connection to the deceased, and that ambiguity detracted from the experience. These situations could easily have been remedied by a clear and simple statement of the speaker’s name and relationship to the deceased. And as noted on, this allows the listeners to “feel more connected to you.”

The next part of the eulogy is the substance or heart of the eulogy. This is where you can point out memorable traits of the deceased. A personal story involving you and the departed one would work here. The accuracy of the story is less important than the significance of the memory to you. It is similar to the difference between memoirs and historical nonfiction; conveying your feelings and memory is what’s important.

And don’t be reluctant to use humorous anecdotes. “It’s OK, and perfectly acceptable, to be funny or tell a humorous story in a eulogy,” according to “It is important and hugely helpful to be celebrating a life well lived with funny memories and entertaining anecdotes.”

It is also important to remember that the focus of the eulogy should always be on the deceased, not the person giving the eulogy. This is often the case when the person giving the eulogy only had a business/transactional relationship with the deceased, particularly a mentor/mentee relationship. I, myself, have faced this dilemma. I was preparing a eulogy regarding someone who helped my career enormously. And with the best of intentions, I listed all my accomplishments that were directly related to his help. I ended up really talking about myself.

Although you can highlight the things you learned from the person, it can be hard to describe everything the deceased has done professionally for the eulogizer without taking the focus away from where it belongs. “The first and most important rule to remember when you are writing a eulogy,” per, “is that the speech is not about you.”

Ending a eulogy can be difficult because that is often where the emotions of the event overwhelm the speaker. Voices crack and talking can become difficult. But ending a eulogy on the right note is important because you do not want your delivery of the eulogy to distract from the overall service. Appropriately concluding a eulogy “is an opportunity,” according to, “to leave a meaningful message that will be remembered long after the funeral.”

It’s often suggested that eulogies end with the recital of a stanza or passage from a poem that was either liked by the deceased or captures their essence as a person. “Choose a piece that reflects the person’s values, beliefs, or experiences,” as states, and it “can create an emotional connection with the audience and leave a lasting impression.” Plus, it is often easier to recite the well-written words of someone else at this very emotional time.

As you can see, writing and delivering a eulogy can be a very emotional experience that comes along at a most trying time. But it is important to rise to the occasion—whether it’s a business colleague, a close friend, or a beloved family member.