How Long Should a Eulogy Be?

rose-pink-colors-3202080_640One of the most difficult speeches you will ever have to make in your life is called a eulogy. This is your last tribute to a deceased love one. The term eulogy has roots from the Greek word “εὐλογία,” which is defined as praise. It is comprised of words to honor your loved ones who passed away. It is usually delivered during the funeral or memorial services.

A eulogy is typically assigned to immediate family members. However, if the death is tragic, sudden, or involves a young child, it may be passed on to a close family friend because it may be too painful for the bereaved family to put their thoughts into words. If you are wondering how to write a eulogy, there is nothing to be nervous about. There are no strict rules to adhere to, and it can be as unique as your relationship with the one who passed away.

Writing the Eulogy

Although a eulogy covers a very sad and delicate topic, it can still contain happy memories. Some bits of humor are actually good for the soul as they remind everyone listening that the deceased lived a full life. After all, there is truth to the adage that laughter is the best medicine. Besides, apart from giving praise, the other purpose of this speech is to comfort the family members in their time of grief.

As such, you can use the highlights of the deceased’s life and mention his or her contributions to the community. Do note that eulogies tend to focus more on the positive memories and great impact a person had throughout his or her lifetime. It is a very daunting task because you have the responsibility of encapsulating and summarizing a vibrant life in just a couple of paragraphs.

If you are stumped, it may be a good idea to look through your pictures with the deceased. You can also check his or her social media profiles. Going through those may jolt your memory and remind you of past events that you may have forgotten. You may also consider working together with the person tasked to write the newspaper obituary.

The Length of the Speech

Usually, funeral directors suggest that the speech be five to ten minutes long. When you think about it, that is such a short time frame to summarize an entire person’s many years of existence in this ephemeral world. There will be lots of memories and so many things to say! But you have to be mindful of the time.

If it is too short, it may seem insincere, like you didn’t know the one being laid to rest at all. Remember, this is your final farewell, so make it count. It also cannot be too long, either. Ten minutes tops are ideal because funeral services often follow a time table. You don’t want the guests to lose interest in your long draw out speech, and you also want to be considerate of the ones traveling far away.

In some services, it is common to have more than one eulogist, as well, so you have to keep the time in mind when you are drafting your speech. You may need to revise your speech and edit out some parts to ensure that you’re happy with all the details you included. If you want to be sure, ask the funeral director or the clergy how much time you have.

Delivering the Eulogy 

Once you’ve taken the time to collect your memories and jot down your thoughts to make the best speech possible, you also have to think about delivery. Make sure you have some time to practice to ensure you won’t get lost. It can be a very intense moment filled with emotion during the actual delivery, so it is best to be prepared.

Be mindful not to rush when making your speech. You want people to understand the words you’ve painstakingly prepared. Take a deep breath, speak clearly, and pronounce your words properly. Because of your practice sessions, you will be familiar with the speech, giving you confidence. Don’t forget to make eye contact with your audience as it shows your sincerity.

And most of all, don’t forget to cut yourself some slack. No one expects perfection! It is okay to make mistakes. You can even cry. The most important element is your heartfelt words that honor your deceased love one. Delivering a eulogy is cathartic, and listening to it is one of the most beautiful things that highlight any memorial service. With this humble speech, others will learn a few special things about the deceased that they may not have known. And this is how a legacy lives on!