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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Writing a Eulogy FAQ

While no one ever wants to write a eulogy, the day might come when you’ll be called upon to write one for a family member, a friend or a colleague.  Eulogies pay tribute to the deceased and finding the right words gives comfort to the living.  Frequently asked questions about writing a eulogy include:

What is a eulogy?

A eulogy touches on the life and achievements of the deceased.  It’s a tribute to his or her life and is an important part of the final farewell.  When asked to deliver a eulogy, it’s important that you prepare well in advance.  Your delivery is another vital component and should be given with sympathy and feeling.

What to include?

Anything you want, as long as you include only positive things about the deceased. 

·       If you’re a family member, concentrate on childhood memories and the mischief you both stirred up growing up.  Give your eulogy a personal and meaningful touch and share something others might not know about the deceased.

·       If you’re a friend, share where and how you met.  Include a few of the experiences you shared. Your eulogy doesn’t have to include only happy experiences.  You can also talk about ups, downs and disappointments so long as the challenges were overcome.  What you cannot do is criticise the deceased or make any negative or critical comments. 

·       As a colleague you can concentrate on work stories.  Under which circumstances you met, the things you worked on together and any after-hours activities you shared.  For the sake of the mourners, keep your stories respectful.

Ask for help

You don’t have to do it alone; you can talk to family and friends.  It’s a misconception that you might distress the family by talking about the deceased because many family members want to share their stories.  If nobody is available, ask permission to visit the person’s house, page through photo albums or read old letters.  You’re bound to recall a few good memories.

What if I’m not good at writing?

You’re not attempting to write a whole biography, notes are good enough to help you keep your train of thought. Write a rough draft and write from the heart alternating between emotional comments and humor.  The end product should have an introduction, a middle part and an ending.  If you can manage it, write something uplifting to make the mourners feel better.

How long should a eulogy be?

While there is no set time frame, a eulogy should not be too short or too long.  If it’s too short it might give the impression that you have nothing good to say about the deceased and this might be construed as lacking respect; however, if it’s too long you might upset the family.  If you talk about the person for five minutes, that is generally an acceptable time frame.
Some people feel that writing a eulogy might be too painful, while for others doing one could be the first step in the healing process.  It might be easier said than done, but it’s important that you attempt to hold your emotions under control.  If you don’t feel that you can, then perhaps you should be honest with the family and explain why you feel you have to decline writing and delivering the eulogy.

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