How to Write a Touching, Respectful Eulogy

Giving a eulogy is a wonderful way to honor your loved one. It helps everyone grieve together, remember happier times and think about how much the person who passed meant to them. 

But writing a touching tribute that hits all the right notes can be daunting. How to get started? What to say? Can it be funny or even irreverent? Must it be tearjerking? What’s appropriate and what isn’t?

Here are some tips for writing a touching, respectful eulogy that celebrates your loved one in a way others can relate. 

Consider Your Audience

Understanding and recognizing the people who will be listening to your eulogy are key to hitting the mark with your message. Kelly Carey, who oversees operations at Codey & Mackey Funeral Home in Boonton and Codey Funeral Home in Caldwell, offers some advice. 

“If the person’s friends and family are more conservative, keep it PG. Aunt Kathy probably doesn’t want to hear the drunk college story or other audacious tales. The eulogy should comfort and touch the audience, not horrify them.”

Still, there is a time and place for impertinent tales -- though that might be outside of a formal ceremony, when you’re in a small group of like-minded friends, family or co-workers. 

Be Personal 

Eulogies are an opportunity to share more about the deceased than what might have gone into the obituary. Different survivors will know different things about your loved one -- a fellow biker will connect with a story about a Rolling Thunder trip to the Veterans Memorial in D.C. All of the Mets fans in your audience will appreciate the story about your loved one catching a fly ball during a game he attended after calling out of work sick. The point is to share different parts of your loved one’s life and personality to give all of the survivors a fuller picture. 

“Share a memory of when the loved one helped someone, had a great idea, or inspired action,” Kelly recommends. This type of story will both entertain the audience and honor the deceased.

Use Humor Wisely

Kelly reminds us that “laughter can help ease people’s pain, so eulogies shouldn’t always be serious and somber.” Talk about the person’s unique quirks or recall a time when they did or said something particularly funny or clever. Keep in mind, however, to not veer into vulgar or unsavory anecdotes, no matter how hilarious you might find them. Again, there’s a time and place for those. It’s just not during the formal eulogy.

Keep It Positive

Death brings up all sorts of feelings, not all of them positive. Heightened emotions, however, do not excuse airing dirty laundry. So skip the mean-spirited stories, family secrets and personal grievances.  

“Eulogizing a person should be a positive experience that honors the deceased,” says Kelly. And, a well-done eulogy also honors the survivors.

Be Mindful of the Time

“As difficult as it is to say goodbye to someone you’ve loved for decades, avoid talking too long,” advises Kelly. Limit your speech to the most authentic, impactful stories and messages, and leave the rest for the repast or a night out with friends. 

“Carefully consider the message you want to leave with the deceased person’s other loved ones,” Kelly says. “They will appreciate the beautiful reminder of the life lived. A thoughtful eulogy will help them grieve their loss without feeling alone.” 

For more information on planning a funeral and writing a eulogy, contact us at Codey & Mackey Funeral Home at (973) 334-5252. It is our privilege to help you get started.