What Is a Eulogy? Dos and Don'ts When Writing a Eulogy 

Your guide to an effective and appropriate eulogy

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Liz Eddy

Giving a eulogy may feel overwhelming, particularly if you are not comfortable in front of large groups. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to honor a loved one and wish them a farewell alongside friends and family. If giving a eulogy makes you nervous, there are some things you’ll want to avoid and a few steps you’ll want to take so that you can speak with ease. 

Our team here at Lantern is dedicated to providing you with the resources, support, and information you need to navigate loss and the grieving process, including a guideline for giving a eulogy with love and confidence. 

What Is a Eulogy 

A eulogy is a speech given at a funeral or memorial service in honor of a loved one who has passed. There are many different ways to approach the eulogy you write, and each one will be unique and individual. 

By contrast, a eulogy is a personal way to honor someone you love in your own words. The eulogy should reflect the person who has passed, meaning there is no one right way to perform one. However, there are some things you’ll want to avoid and others that can help you create an honest and loving eulogy. Here are some guidelines you’ll want to consider as you begin crafting a eulogy. 

What to Avoid During a Eulogy 

On the day of a funeral or service, there is a good possibility you will feel emotional and overwhelmed. There are many things going on, and you’ll also be navigating well-wishers and family members. Grief and exhaustion can sometimes make it difficult to find the right words to express your feelings and may even lead to you saying something you wish you could take back. 

That’s why it’s very important to write and practice your eulogy in advance. Here are a few things you’ll want to avoid when writing a eulogy

Bringing Up Past Disagreements 

No one is perfect. If you have known a person a long time or they are a member of your family, there’s the possibility you have had disagreements or conflicts in the past. Even if you feel those past disagreements are important, bringing them up during a funeral service will only paint you in an uncomfortable light and make it even more difficult to navigate the grieving process on the day of the service. 

It can be challenging to compartmentalize your old hurts with the passing of the person who might have caused them, but other avenues might be more appropriate for exploring your relationship with the deceased. Consider speaking with a friend or mental health professional or using a journal to express your feelings. 

How They Passed 

Ultimately, death is natural, but you’ve gathered at the service to discuss how your loved one lived, not how they died. While it’s not inappropriate to refer to their strength in navigating a difficult health condition or their grace at the end of life, use your time to commemorate what they have done, who they have touched, and what they created. 

Inappropriate Stories 

The type of stories you share about a loved one will vary. Some inappropriate stories may actually lift the mood and provide a sense of levity and joy that the deceased would have appreciated. 

Before you tell an inappropriate story, however, take stock of who is attending the funeral, how mourners, particularly the family, will react, and if there is a better story to tell. You may have another environment or situation with friends that knew that side of the person, which may be better for that particular story. 

There are a few things you’ll want to consider in general when speaking at a funeral, whether it’s in the receiving line, with the family, or for the eulogy:

  • What kind of person was the deceased?
  • Who from their circle of friends and family is in attendance? 
  • What is the general atmosphere of the room? 

Decide which stories to tell after you have looked around.  

A Roast 

Humor is so often our way of coping with difficult experiences, especially loss. If you had a joking or ribbing relationship with the deceased, it may feel like the right choice to lean into that kind of humor while performing the eulogy. 

Even if it was part of your relationship with the deceased, you want to remember that not everyone will understand that kind of humor or bantering, and it may come across as mean or inappropriate. Try to focus on the good and the person they were and share more of what made them a close friend or someone special to you. 

What to Do During a Eulogy 

With a few exceptions, you have many options when it comes to writing a eulogy. You’ll want it to be personal, heartfelt, and honest. Here are some things you’ll want to consider when writing a eulogy. 

Speak Slowly 

Speaking in front of a group can be overwhelming, particularly if you are experiencing grief or saying good-bye to a loved one. You’ll want to remember to speak slowly and take time to breathe. Not only will this help ensure that your words are heard and that you are able to honor the person you love with grace and ease, but it will also help to keep you calm. 

Slow breathing can make it easier to manage our emotions and stay in control, which will help you make it to the end of your speech. 

Remember, Emotions are Okay—and Expected 

Even if you are breathing and speaking slowly, you may still find yourself becoming teary. That’s okay. If you are speaking at a loved one’s funeral, it is expected that you will be navigating difficult emotions, and no one will fault you for reacting or crying. It’s a good idea to have tissues close at hand but remember that everyone else is grieving as well and that you are among friends. 

It’s also okay to feel happy emotions, as well. You are sharing stories and remembering many good times. Allow yourself to engage with the best memories and share them in honor of the one you love. 

Practice in Advance 

It’s important to practice reading your speech before you give it on the day of the funeral. Say it in front of the mirror a few times or in front of friends you trust. This will help you to decide what sounds right and what needs to be changed or swapped out. 

It will also give you more confidence when speaking and make it easier to slow your speech and pause when appropriate. That way, you can focus on the most important part of giving your speech, honoring your loved one. 

Share Stories and Good Memories 

It may feel difficult to wrap an entire person’s life and impact up in a few minutes, but you don’t need to, not really. Instead, you’re honoring their lives through a handful of stories and memories that speak to who they were and the kind of deeds they did. The stories you share will depend on who the person is and your relationship, but you can be honest and true. They can be funny stories, happy stories, or just a simple memory of how that person could make anyone smile. Sometimes, it’s best to allow their words and actions to speak all on their own. 


Giving a eulogy doesn’t have to be scary. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to share stories and honor a person who has had an impact on your life and the lives of many others. Bring up good memories and share jokes, or simply allow yourself to feel the grief of loss and the joy of knowing a wonderful person. 

There is no one way to write a eulogy. Make it personal to the person you are honoring and your relationship with them. Take the time to edit and practice your eulogy so that you feel comfortable giving it, and speak from your heart as you share the good times and the love with all those who have come in support of you and your family. Sharing a eulogy can help to provide comfort for friends and loved ones and might even give you a sense of peace as well. 

Categories: Managing a Death, Funeral Planning, Legacy

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