If you went to a wedding and the speeches were given by someone who barely knew – or had never even met – the people getting married, would that seem strange?
And yet often this is what happens at a funeral, when eulogies are written and delivered by someone who is a complete stranger to the person who died. Which is why it’s so great that you are reading this page, because you giving the eulogy for someone you love and care about is going to make a huge difference to you, and to all those who hear you.
Great eulogies follow a simple structure – words of introduction, words of ending, and some stories in the middle. Those stories can’t cover a person’s whole life, of course, but they can give a real sense of their life, of who they have been as a person. And you’ll probably start with the stories from when they were young – or from when you first knew them – and move on to things that happened later.
And yes, the stories can be funny – a great eulogy will prompt laughter as well as tears. And we all want to remember the good times, even in these saddest of moments.
Below is an example eulogy from How to Write and Deliver a Great Eulogy in 6 Simple Steps. If you want to find out more about this downloadable guide you can do so here.
This real-life eulogy – which I myself read at my brother-in-law’s funeral – was delivered on behalf of the family, and is written as if coming from a group voice, which is why the word “I” doesn’t appear, and the word “we” does. It includes stories and anecdotes, and shares feelings, while at the same time being a brief story of Robert’s life.
“Robert was born in April 1967, the youngest of the six children of Andrew and Celia Wheeler.
His elder brother Stephen’s prayer was answered and after four sisters along came Robert. Sally had managed to get the day off from school and was the first sibling to hold the newest of the Wheelers, a beautiful baby boy. His name was soon shortened and he was known as Bertie as a baby, and later as Rob to his many friends.
He was always cheerful, a bouncing toddler with a head of curls which Mum could hardly bring herself to cut. Michelle found him irresistible and would wake him from his naps to play. Anne remembers walking to the shops with him toddling at her side, imagining that he was her child. With five older siblings, Robert had to learn to hold his own, but he was a good-hearted and gentle child and we loved him for that.
Robert was eager to be a part of Stephen’s gang and would trail along after him in his Paddington Bear duffel coat and red boots. At the Saturday morning cinema show Sally remembers Stephen sending him up on to the stage to cause havoc by walking in front of the screen. There wasn’t much he wouldn’t do for Stephen.
At St Mary’s Primary School Robert met Jason who was to become a fixture in his life until the very end. Jason has described Robert as his dearest friend for thirty-three years.
Once the young Rob and Jason were doing the school raffle. They apparently went round the classes selling the tickets and when they found that they had some unsold tickets left over, they both innocently wrote their names down on these spares and put them into the ticket box. When the tickets were drawn and Robert’s name came up for each prize, suspicions were aroused and he became known as Robert Stealer!
Being the youngest, Robert always had someone in the family to play with but as the older ones began to fly the nest he grew closer to Pam, his youngest sister. They were always out and about getting into scrapes and having adventures. Once in a while though Pam would be the one left behind to face the music because the boys had all legged it quicker than her.
In Robert’s late teens Sylvester Stallone was his role model, and Robert got into body building and joined the local athletics club. His self-assurance grew as he spread his horizons, made lots of new friends and proved himself through his skill at javelin throwing, becoming regional Under 19 champion. He blossomed into a very handsome and strong man, who was totally unaware of his good looks – which of course made him even more likeable!
Around this time Joanna arrived on the scene when she lodged at our house while studying. For Robert she was the one. Beautiful, bright and at ease in herself and with others, Robert made a wise choice in her. At their wedding, his friend Jason made us all laugh when he recalled that it was around the time that they met that Robert was finally able to shed the teenage carapace of his furry hooded parka.
With Joanna, Robert was at his happiest. Together they grew into adulthood and shared some fantastic times together, especially whilst living and working abroad. She was the making of him and we witnessed the way he grew so much in confidence because they traveled together and she encouraged him to try new things.
Robert and Joanna were married in July 1998 at a church in the Forest of Dean. At the hotel, the lawn where we gathered for pictures was set against a backdrop of beautiful beech trees, a setting which Robert loved. It was a superb day, full of laughter, full of love and full of great memories.
To know loving kindness was to see Robert with children. His nieces and nephews began arriving when he was in his teens and he immediately showed his facility with children. He was a wonderful uncle to them. Robert could meet them on their terms, with sensitivity and affection. They knew they could go to him for counsel, or for comfort or to just hang out with. He was always ready to play, encouraging them, listening to them and loving them.
In answer to all his hopes Joanna gave him two beautiful children of his own, a son Peter and daughter Isabelle. Robert was completely delighted and quickly proved himself to be a very hands-on Dad with masses of patience and lots of energy.
All of us agree that if any of us ever had a problem, Robert was a great listener. When diplomacy was called for, he could be relied upon. He knew what to say, to show that he cared and give support without blame. He had become a wise man.
Many of our happiest family times were down at the coast and once he had his own family Robert loved to take them to the beach.
In those harrowing last days, with Joanna’s unfailing support Robert made it to the beach at Southsea. There he was able to look out at the power of the waves and the vastness of the sea. Amidst all the pain and sadness it is a comfort to think of this journey they made together and to imagine that fleeting moment of happiness for Robert looking out towards the sea.
Our dear son and brother, this world is a lesser place without you.
Robert, we will love you always and forever.”
Click here for more information on my downloadable guide How to Write and Deliver a Great Eulogy in 6 Simple Steps, complete with poems, quotations, public speaking tips and fill-in-the-blanks eulogy templates.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Your Tribute will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Your Tribute only recommends products or services that we use personally or believe will add value to our users. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Updated: June 20, 2013