If you’re not a natural wordsmith, writing a eulogy can feel like a daunting task. You’re already processing your own emotions about the death of your loved one and now you have to put that aside to tell their life story in front of all their friends and family. It can feel really overwhelming.
Writing a eulogy is an honour, and while it may feel impossible, it can become a special part of your grieving process and help you connect with the deceased, even though they are no longer with you.
At the end of this article you’ll also find several eulogy examples to draw inspiration from.
What is a eulogy?
A eulogy is a remembrance speech given at a funeral or memorial and is usually spoken by a close friend or family member. Eulogies often tell the life story of the deceased and can be a way for people from different aspects of their life to connect and reflect.
Eulogies generally include pivotal memories of the deceased for the speaker. Often you will hear more than one eulogy at a funeral or memorial, so check in with the other speakers so you don’t talk about the same things.
How long should a eulogy be?
You want your audience to be engaged so don’t go for too long. The sweet spot is 3-5 minutes, however some eulogies go as long as 10 minutes. If you can get somebody to read over your eulogy, or even better practice in front of a couple of people, you can get a good sense of whether it is too short, too long or just right.
What should you include in a eulogy?
You don’t need to include every key feature, date and detail of the person’s life, but a few basics can help shape the story. Think about including
- Key features about the deceased; full name, place of birth, names of their parents and siblings, where they grew up, schools attended.
- Career/university, personal achievements, husband/wife/partner, marriage date, children and birthdates, numbers of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
- Talk about their personality and what kind of person they were. Good qualities and even the bad - it all sums them up as a person.
If you’re stuck for ideas on what to write, try pulling out old photo albums, going through old letters or emails, and any other memorabilia that holds strong memories. You can also talk to close friends and relatives to share stories and help remember any key moments.
For an in depth guide to what to include in a eulogy, check out our 7 step guide to eulogy writing.
We’ve put together some eulogy examples plus excerpts from famous celebrity eulogies. Use these as inspiration to tell the story of your loved one.
Daughter to mother
Mum was the light of my life. Charlotte was a kind, compassionate woman who was quick to laugh and had so much love to give. She would always stick up for the little guy, and made an impact on everybody she met. It is so lovely to see so many people here together to celebrate her life.
Mum was born in 1962 to Harry and Veronica, the eldest of 5. They grew up in a small home in Sydney, filled to the brim with the seven of them. She helped take care of her siblings and even left school early to work and help provide for the family.
Mum wasn’t much of a career woman; it was her family that gave her drive and purpose. Our family of Dad, myself and my sister were more than enough for her and quality time as the four of us gave her so much joy.
Mum had many friends of all ages. Even in retirement, she would have an endless stream of friends and family dropping in to visit and gossip.
Both Mum and Dad worked incredibly hard and sacrificed so much so my sister and I could chase our dreams. She always told me I could do anything I put my mind to, and I hope I’ve made her proud. I’ll always be thankful for everything she did for us, and her passing has left a massive hole in every life she touched. We love you Mum and miss you more every single day.
Wife to husband
Thank you all for coming today to commemorate my husband, John. Since we first met nearly 50 years ago, there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t marvelled at his kindness and caring nature, plus his innate ability to problem solve for his nearest and dearest.
John has left a long legacy behind filled with incredible friends who have been constants in his life for decades, as well as our incredible children and grandchildren.
Born in Melbourne to two incredible parents, Paul and Valerie, John and his two siblings grew up with a love of travel and exploration, constantly going on family adventures. This flowed down to our family, where we would pack up the caravan and take our three beautiful children, Jessie, James and Jackie, off trekking around Australia and visiting all the beauty in our country.
John had a natural paternal instinct and was an incredible father and grandfather. This is probably why he excelled as a primary school teacher, then eventually principal, working hard to provide for our family. He loved kids and found so much joy in shaping the minds of the future generations. In our retirement years, spending time with our 8 grandchildren gave him so much energy and a new lease on life.
He was my soul mate and my inspiration – my steadfast rock that helped me through thick and thin. John supported and loved us all, and was always there to help navigate through life’s challenges.
Saying goodbye is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but I know you’re in a better place now.
Rosa Parks’ eulogy by Oprah Winfrey
I feel it an honour to be here to come and say a final goodbye. I grew up in the South, and Rosa Parks was a hero to me long before I recognised and understood the power and impact that her life embodied. I remember my father telling me about this coloured woman who had refused to give up her seat. In my child’s mind, I thought, “She must be really big.” I thought she must be at least a hundred feet tall. I imagined her being stalwart and strong and carrying a shield to hold back the white folks. And then I grew up and had the esteemed honour of meeting her. Wasn’t that a surprise. Here was this petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness. I thanked her then. I said, “Thank you,” for myself and for every coloured girl, every coloured boy, who didn’t have heroes who were celebrated. I thanked her then.
After our first meeting I realised that God uses good people to do great things. I’m here today to say a final thank you, Sister Rosa, for being a great woman who used your life to serve, to serve us all. That day that you refused to give up your seat on the bus, you, Sister Rosa, changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of so many other people in the world. I would not be standing here today nor standing where I stand every day had she not chosen to sit down. I know that. I know that. I know that. I know that, and I honour that. Had she not chosen to say we shall not — we shall not be moved.
So I thank you again, Sister Rosa, for not only confronting the one white man whose seat you took, not only confronting the bus driver, not only for confronting the law, but for confronting history, a history that for 400 years said that you were not even worthy of a glance, certainly no consideration. I thank you for not moving.
And in that moment when you resolved to stay in that seat, you reclaimed your humanity and you gave us all back a piece of our own. I thank you for that. I thank you for acting without concern. I often thought about what that took, knowing the climate of the times and what could have happened to you, what it took to stay seated. You acted without concern for yourself and made life better for us all. We shall not be moved. I marvel at your will. I celebrate your strength to this day. And I am forever grateful, Sister Rosa, for your courage, your conviction. I owe you to succeed. I will not be moved.
An excerpt of Steve Jobs’ eulogy by his sister, Mona Simpson
I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.
Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day.
That’s incredibly simple, but true.
He was the opposite of absent-minded.
He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.
When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited.
He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.
Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.
For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them.
In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.
He didn’t favour trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.
His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”
Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.
He was willing to be misunderstood.
But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.
Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.
Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.
Steve’s final words were:
OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.
If you’re interested in reading more about eulogies, here are some other resources:
To speak with one of our funeral arrangers, please give us a call on 1800 071 176, or head to the Bare Cremation website for more information.