Preparing the Eulogy

If you’re looking at this page, you’re likely to be arranging a funeral with me. I’ll do my best to help you through the process of saying goodbye to your loved one and reflect on his or her life. Most secular funerals here in Victoria, Australia, are 30-45 minutes and the biggest part of this is usually the eulogy – your loved one’s life story. You might ask me to tell the whole story or you might be doing it all yourselves, but more often we end up sharing the eulogy. Whatever the balance may be, we have a short time for a large task, so here’s a format to help you prepare.

At the funeral we usually speak about six elements of your loved one’s life story, which I’ve outlined below. This can be easier to compile and more fluid to deliver than a timeline, which tells the whole story in precise time order. You’re welcome to use a timeline, but I suggest you also consider the format outlined here. Whichever format you use, it’s worth thinking and writing about the following before we meet face to face:

  1. Is there much that you know about your loved one’s youth before s/he went to work?
  2. What are the more important jobs throughout his/her career?
  3. What will we say about family life?
  4. What did your loved one like to do in his/her spare time?
  5. What will we say about the final phase of their life?
  6. If you had to describe your loved one in a dozen words, what kind of person was s/he? This last question usually isn’t a separate section, but an undercurrent that runs through the whole eulogy. In considering this, you might find my Personality Page useful. It’s on the Resources for Families tab on this website. You might like to connect stories or anecdotes to some of these descriptive words. For example, George was a larrikin. One time he had us all in stitches when …

Whether you’re delivering the main eulogy or a tribute, for those of you who are speaking on the day, you’ll find more guidance on the Preparing a Tribute tab, which is on the Resources for Families menu on this website.

I hope that you’re all bearing up at this difficult time. I look forward to seeing you soon.