I probably wouldn’t have become a freelance writer at all, if I hadn’t volunteered to give my Nan’s eulogy a few years ago. Nobody else in the family had wanted to do it (and if I’m being completely honest neither did I; public speaking has always terrified me) – but I couldn’t let Nan’s funeral pass by without some personal words said for and about her. She more than deserved them.
It was in preparing, writing and delivering Nan’s eulogy that I realised how much I’ve always loved writing…but not just any writing. I loved writing that could be of service; writing that can distil a complicated story into a simple, easily understood message.
These days, I will occasionally receive a request to help somebody else write a eulogy for somebody they care about, and whenever I do, I feel very privileged.
The process I use is very simple, and will usually involve meeting for coffee in a quiet place, and then
It can be hard to know where to begin when planning a eulogy. For starters, you’re probably wracked with grief. You may not know all the semantics, such as how long you have to speak for, and what to include. You may not feel as though you’ve got the courage to stand up and talk to a group on a normal day about a normal subject, let alone talking openly about someone you
If you’re trying to write a eulogy, or you know someone who is, then I hope these simple tips will help along the way.
Length and scope
A ‘typical’ eulogy will last between three to five minutes, which is around two sides of A4 written down. Typically, the funeral celebrant will give a formal summary of your loved one’s life, leaving you free to share something more personal.
How to begin
This may seem obvious, but you should begin your eulogy by explaining who you are, and your relationship with your loved one. By beginning this way, you will set some context for people to connect with your memories.
What impression do you want people to be left with?
If you had to sum up your loved one in just a few words, what would they be? What particular stories can you recall that will illuminate these words in others’ minds?
It can be very helpful – not to mention therapeutic – to dedicate some specific time to
Don’t put extra pressure on yourself
While rehearsing your eulogy with a friend can often be very helpful, particularly if you’ve included some touches of humour, don’t feel you have to memorise anything. It’s fine if you want to, but nobody will punish you for reading from notes, particularly if you’re worried about forgetting anything.
This isn’t a formal business presentation at which everything has to be perfect; you are simply sharing treasured thoughts and memories about someone special, and you will mostly have the warm support of everybody in the room.
I hope these tips are of some help, and if I can help you write something personal for a loved one (or even for yourself), please get in touch for a friendly chat.
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
Reader, I called bullshit.Read more
Good listening is more than just letting people talk.Read more
How to take the pressure off... and just enjoy being creative.Read more
What's in it for me?Read more
How not to drown in other people's opinions.Read more
What's your personal soapbox topic?Read more
Don't let spelling and grammar fears stop you from writing.Read more
"You can’t be on somebody’s side, if you don’t know what they think or how they feel".Read more
...they were learning how to express their true feelings in words, and the results were honest, uplifting, and totally magnetic.Read more
As a freelance writer, taking a break is always a challenge. But I push on through the guilt, and here's why.Read more
Where's the value in empty business gurus?Read more
It's Universal Letter Writing Week - how will you celebrate?Read more
Five easy resolutions to help your freelancing career thrive in 2019 - promise!Read more
When you give people a piece of yourself, you will naturally engage them.Read more
Simple tips to help you breeze through any interview scenario.Read more
How to become every freelancer's favourite client!Read more
Know what you're good at, and rejection won't seem so bad!Read more
How setting a speaking challenge forced me to talk confidently about the work I love.Read more
Finding the 'what's', 'whys' and 'hows' of your business will help people connect with you.Read more
Ironically, it's when you're writing about yourself that you will sound least like you. Hiring a writer to do it for you can bring a whole host of benefits.Read more
Writing books is big business - or at least it can be, if you get it right. For starters, this means not rushing the process!Read more
There's a lot of vague career advice out there, so if you're looking for insight that goes beyond "be yourself and follow your passion" you may have to leap before you look!Read more
Creating a schedule can be a difficult task, especially when you're planning for work you're not being paid for - or that nobody is expecting! Here's how to get started on crafting a time plan that will work for you.Read more
If you know someone who already has everything, give them something truly unique - special words.Read more
With a new year on the horizon, why not make a resolution to tell your life story? Committing your personal tales to paper can be a rich and rewarding experience for you to write and others to read...for generations to come. Here's how to get started.Read more
Is time getting the better of you? With a growing business, several passion projects on the go, books to read and friends I'd quite like to see, I was starting to feel overwhelmed...until I decided to take a closer look at planning my time more effectively. Here's how you can do the same.Read more
BOO! Like a ripe pumpkin Hallowe'en has rolled around yet again, so what better time to extol the benefits of ghostwriting, definitely not just the province of bargain-bin bound celebrities.Read more
An encounter with a corporate headhunter made me question my career - why was I still doing something I didn't love? Here's how I formulated my corporate escape plan and found a career I truly enjoy.Read more
Writing an online dating profile that reveals the real 'you' takes time and courage - but that special person will appreciate the effort. Read on for a few tips to get you started.Read more