How to write a great eulogy

The aging Baby Boom generation means more eulogies. A speechwriter shares tips on handling the most meaningful assignment well.

In the natural cycle of life, speechwriters find themselves assigned to write eulogies for clients or need to personally write and deliver a eulogy for a loved one. Writing a eulogy is similar in many respects to crafting other special occasion speeches, but delivering a eulogy or coaching a client to deliver one presents unique challenges. Done well, a eulogy can be the best speech of the deceased’s life—and yours as well.

Capture their spirit, not their history. Those attending a memorial service range from the closest family members to those who never met the deceased but are dear friends of a child or spouse. A eulogy should capture the spirit of the deceased for his or her loved ones and introduce the person’s vitality and specialness to those further removed. Describe what the person was like—what made him or her memorable and lovable—rather than present a detailed life history. Offer to write a summary biography for the memorial program, but focus the eulogy more narrowly—on qualities to remember.

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