Sunday, June 14, 2009

Giving Eulogies

Last year I felt a great desire to stand up at a friend’s funeral and give a eulogy about her. No one asked me to do it, but I felt a great need for everyone there to know what my friend was really like, as I saw her through my eyes. I sat down at the computer and stared at the blank page. What could I say about her that was personal for me, that made her personality stand out, and that might make people say, “I didn’t realize she was like that….”

I must have sat for almost an hour. Did I not know this person well enough? Was I being foolish trying to do something I was not capable of nor had ever done before? And then suddenly it came to me. I would tell a few anecdotes about what we enjoyed doing together, some of her quirky ideas and thoughts we would discuss, and her personality, how we met, our interactions with one another…Oh, my gosh! It all came flooding out…There were funny incidents, humorous personality traits, how weird she sometimes acted…I had more than enough to write about because it came from the heart.

I was lucky, writing about someone I knew. What if you are asked to give a eulogy about someone you didn’t know well at all…a much more difficult task indeed. Here is the way I would go about it:

I would ask friends and relatives stories about this person, some of the things they liked to do, what they were like as children, what type of education they had, what they liked to eat, drink, read, sing, who they liked to quote, and what activities they were involved in. Were they a fun person, quiet or just a character at heart? Was it a sudden death, an act of violence, suicide or a long and lingering illness that took this person away. These are all the things that should be considered when conveying your sentiments.

You may be surprised at all the information you can gather. Writing a speech about this person may not be the chore you dread, but a way to convey to those who knew this friend how much he or she will be missed. Remember, those at the funeral want to remember their friend with comforting words and the appropriate tribute they believe this person deserved. No one expects perfection at a time like this…writing from the heart will more than accomplish your goal.

Finding the right words is sometimes a chore. Books like “Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep” can provide numerous suggestions, poems and quotes to use. Online sites with help include:,,,, and .

After my experience with writing my first eulogy I hope that I have done a service by honoring my friend and for those attending the funeral. I felt good about the whole experience and would probably do it again now that I understand how to go about it.

1 comment:

  1. Marcy's high school alma mater has an alumni association website. By contacting the webmaster of, you could honor Marcy's memory by updating the Class of 1984 information in the Alumni Directory. Also, if you wanted to create a college scholarship in Marcy's name to be rewarded to a current Camelback student, I am sure the people who run the Camelback Alumni Association would be receptive to your wishes.