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Funeral Words: Writing a Funeral Speech

Updated on September 17, 2009

Writing a Eulogy

Why We Write Funeral Speeches

When you write a funeral speech, or eulogy, you're not only honoring the person who has died; you're also honoring his family and friends. You're telling your listeners that this person's life had an impact: on you, on his family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, on the community and even on the world.

Getting Started

Begin your speech by giving the facts: date and place of birth, town where she grew up, parents' and siblings' names, spouse and children, if any. You can talk about where she went to college, her occupation, honors, awards, organizations of which she was a member, or anything that you think is relevant or that those who didn't know her well would be interested in learning.

Write the Life

Write about your personal experience of him. If you have a favorite story that you've been telling for years, don't hold back. Tell it again. Even if your listeners have heard it before, it willl be comforting to hear a familiar story, especially one that illustrates some positive quality of the person they loved.

If you can't think of a story from your own experience, or you didn't know her that well, talk with her family and friends. Ask them about her childhood, her first job, her wedding if she married, her relationship with her spouse, her hobbies, her pets, her children, her "causes." Take notes. If you get too much material to use, count your blessings. Read over it and notice which stories really seem to tell you what kind of person she was, or which stories are just downright exciting or absorbing.

Write the story or stories you've chosen as if you were talking to one person. Make it conversational. Your grammar doesn't have to be perfect. It's more important that you convey the spirit of this person than that you use elegant language or perfect sentence construction.

Your speech doesn't have to be lengthy to have a big impact. If you choose one or two stories that really speak to the character of the person who's just died, you'll have written a successful eulogy.

It's Okay to Make People Chuckle at a Funeral

Don't be afraid to tell funny stories, as long as they won't embarrass anyone. Most people have been involved in something humorous or even hilarious in their lifetimes. And some people are just naturallly funny all their lives. If the person you're honoring was one of them, you'll probably have a gold mine of his amusing expressions and eccentric antics. In that case, if you didn't tell them, you'd be untrue to his spirit and nature.

Use Poems or Quotations

If you've chosen one story to tell and you'd like to add a poem or a quotation, you can find many appropriate funeral poems and quotations online. Here's just one site: Memories Are Forever! It's especially effective to end your speech with a quotation that sums up what you've been saying, or that describes the essence of the person. For example, if the person who has died would rather have you laugh than cry over her, you might use this quote from Isla Paschal Richardson: "Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there."


End your speech with a heartfelt sentence or two, such as "I'll always remember Aunt Edna for her kindness, her sense of humor in the face of any hardship and her enormous love for her family. And I'll always miss her." Or, if you've used a quote, as in the above paragraph, you might write, "If Aunt Edna were beside me today, I hope she'd be smiling at seeing all of us here together, celebrating her life."

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    • profile image

      Ian smith 4 years ago

      I finding it infesting reading but I stress about the eulogy or trubute and I would find it to hard for me to get up and speak for my parents I think for me have a celebrant there to speak on my behalf

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      Ricardo 4 years ago

      These tips for writing and delivering a eulogy are really helpful. There are other resources with online that give advice for composing the eulogy, practicing it and polishing it, like

    • John B Badd profile image

      John B Badd 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      This is a awesome and useful hub. I linked to it from my hub on cremation and urns.

    • Margaret Morris profile image

      Margaret Morris 8 years ago

      Hi Carole,

      I'm glad my hub is helpful. I'm realizing that there probably isn't as much information online about this subject as there could be.

    • carolegalassi profile image

      carolegalassi 8 years ago from California

      Thanks for your informative hub. We need this information as a guide during an emotional time of loss. We are never really prepared to plan a funeral and paying tribute to a loved one through a eulogy is important as we share about them with memories.

    • Margaret Morris profile image

      Margaret Morris 8 years ago

      It is hard. Such an emotional time, and gathering our thoughts isn't always easy, let alone speaking in front of the other mourners. But judging from some of your Hub pages that I've read, your eulogies were probably wonderful.

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      ralwus 8 years ago

      Hardest thing I ever did was eulogize my brother's funeral. Did my Mom's too, it was much easier. I can see why some people just can't do it for a loved one.