Writing Assignment: Write A Eulogy

by Randy Murray on March 22, 2013

There are many types of writing on and about death. There is the obituary, which is an announcement of death and can contain a brief statement of the departed’s life and family. There is the funeral oration, which is typically a speech delivered to the mourners and is often about the living, not the lost or passed.

The eulogy is about the person who has died and it is one of the more difficult things to write, even for a professional, experienced writer.

The best eulogies are heartfelt. They allow us to remember the essence of the person, not every detail of his or her life. A eulogy for someone you know, someone you love, is often written as an outpouring of emotion and tears. It is, perhaps, a chance to say something that you did not say while this person was living. It is an opportunity for framing a relationship and starting the process of setting the course of life with a new perspective. It is the start of time without this person in your life.

For me, as a writer, I write eulogies to help me connect with my own feelings at the passing of a loved one, a companion or pet, or someone I do not know personally, but admire greatly. Without a eulogy I can appear stoic and unmoved, but while writing a eulogy for them I can’t hold back or pretend that I am unaffected.

The eulogy is not just about the person or companion who has passed. The eulogy is about the writer, the deliverer of this message. To write with emotion, you must connect with your emotions. The eulogy is an ideal way to to do this.

For today’s assignment, write a eulogy for someone you love who has died.

This person or pet can be someone close to you or someone you admired from a distance. Please select someone who has made an impact on you and who you have deep feelings for. As you write, don’t hold back. Empty your heart. Cry if you need to. Put down everything that you need to and then step back. You may need to let it sit for a day. Then return and shape it. Edit, cut, and add to it to make the eulogy something that isn’t just an outburst of emotion from you. Make it something that can let others connect with this person or pet as well.

The real test of a eulogy is reading it out loud. You can do this in private, but the sound of the delivered eulogy should be very much your own voice. Rewrite anything that is stiff or unnatural for you to say. If you become overwhelmed with emotion while reading do not be ashamed. It’s likely a sign that you have touched upon the real feelings that are important.

Here are some examples of my eulogies:


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