How Do You Start a Eulogy?

Many people are tasked with writing a eulogy when they least expect it. It can difficult to write a eulogy while you are processing the passing of a loved one, but honoring them with a thoughtful tribute can help you and those around you heal and find closure.

A eulogy is a speech given in honor of a person’s life at a funeral or memorial service. There are many things you can say about the person, but there are also some things to avoid.

In this article, you will learn about different ways to start and perform a eulogy, including:

1. Introduce Yourself

You could start with something simple like:

“My name is __________ , the wife/husband/son/daughter/friend of ___________.”

Another idea is to explain how you knew the deceased, or how you first met. However, you should take care to avoid focusing the eulogy on you. It may seem like common sense, but it is best to focus on the deceased and not yourself. 

2. Start Your Eulogy With a Quote

One way to start your eulogy is with a quote. A powerful quote can make your eulogy even more meaningful and unique. Try thinking of a quote from your loved one’s favorite books, films or music.

Here are some examples of impactful eulogy quotes:

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting soemthing we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” – Friedrich Koenig

“All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” – Morrie Schwartz

“The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.” – Irving Berlin

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” – Anonymous

3. Address Friends and Family

Talk about how others have been affected by their death– their family members and close friends. Extend your sympathies for the loss they have experienced, and how it relates to your own loss. Offering condolences to a loved one’s friends and family members is a traditional gesture when performing a eulogy. 

Addressing Family Members of the Deceased

When addressing family members, it is important to be specific. However, you do not want to speak too personally about family memories in front of family members who may not know the deceased. If family members don’t know what happened during certain family events, but other people present did, they won’t be able to relate, making them feel left out.

For family members of the deceased, remember to say a family member’s name when speaking about them.

You can preface your introduction with “I have some great family memories of [name] that I would like to share.” Or, for example, if a family member was known for something they did in their life that was family-oriented, you could start with, “I remember when [name] was the family’s biggest cheerleader.”

It is recommended to start with acknowledging immediate family members of the deceased when performing your eulogy. It will help family members feel like their memories are acknowledged, and that family is important.

Addressing Friends of the Deceased

When speaking to friends of the deceased, it is a good idea to address specific friends because family members may not be aware of their loved one’s life outside of family events.

It is beneficial for family members to hear about the deceased’s life through their friend’s memories. It shows how they have affected other people’s lives in positive ways, and can bring everyone together during a time of mourning.

4. Share Fond Memories During Your Eulogy

Share stories from their lives that demonstrate who they were as human beings. A well-written eulogy should evoke feelings of nostalgia and inspire fond memories of the person you are paying tribute to. Celebrating their life instead of focusing on their passing can help ease the grieving process.

Including personal anecdotes in your funeral speech will give your eulogy a more emotional touch. Even if you only knew this person superficially, there’s probably something about them that you can share with an audience. If you know them well, you might be able to tell stories about their childhood.

For example, “When I was a child, my family and I used to take trips up north every summer,” or “When we were in high school, she always let me copy her notes because I was too shy to ask the teacher for help.”

5. Address Their Career Achievements and Contributions To The Community

You might want to reference their career achievements if the deceased exercised remarkable dedication to their careers. You can also include praise for volunteer or charity work that they performed for their community. 

Eulogy Introduction Examples

If you’re looking for funeral speech examples, here are a few great eulogy examples that speak to different experiences. When writing funeral speeches, sometimes less is more, and only a few words can have a great impact. Take a look at the following quotes from famous eulogies to help get your creative juices flowing:

Eulogy Example #1: Ted Kennedy’s Eulogy For Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

“John and Caroline, Ed, and Maurice, members of the family, Mrs. Clinton, members of the clergy, and friends:

Last summer, when we were on the upper deck on the boat at the Vineyard, waiting for President and Mrs. Clinton to arrive, Jackie turned to me and said: “Teddy, you go down and greet the President.’

But I said: ‘Maurice is already there.’

And Jackie answered: ‘Teddy, you do it. Maurice isn’t running for re-election.’

She was always there – for all our family – in her special way.

She was a blessing to us and to the nation – and a lesson to the world on how to do things right, how to be a mother, how to appreciate history, how to be courageous. No one else looked like her, spoke like her, wrote liker her, or was so original in the way she did things. No one we knew ever had a better sense of self. ”

Eulogy Example #2: Oprah Winfrey’s Eulogy For Rosa Parks

Reverend Braxton, family, friends, admirers and this amazing choir:

I feel it an honor 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 recognized and understood the power and impact that her life embodied. I remember my father telling me about this colored woman who refused to give up her seat.

And 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 honor of meeting her.

And that wasn’t a surprise. Here was this petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness. And I thanked her then.”

Eulogy Example #3: Kevin Costner’s Eulogy For Whitney Houston

“I’d like to thank Cissy and Dionne for the honor of being here and for everybody in the church treating my wife and I so gracefully. I’m going to say some stories, maybe some of them you know, maybe some of them you don’t. I wrote them down because I didn’t want to — I didn’t want to miss anything.

The song “I Will Always Love You” almost wasn’t. It wasn’t supposed to be in the movie. The first choice was going to be “What Becomes of a Broken Heart” but it had been out a year before in another movie and we felt it wouldn’t have the impact, so we couldn’t use it.

So what becomes of our broken hearts? Whitney returns home today to the place where it all began, and I urge us all inside and outside across the nation and around the world to dry our tears, suspend our sorrow, and perhaps our anger just long enough, just long enough to remember the sweet miracle of Whitney.”

Additional Tips For Performing a Eulogy

  • Before beginning your eulogy, take a deep breath. Achieving a calm state of mind is challenging for those uncomfortable with public speaking. You may feel pressured to deliver a “perfect” eulogy, but remember, it is not a performance that will be graded; it is a tribute to someone you have lost. 
  • Try to speak slowly and enunciate your words carefully so that the audience can understand what you are saying. Enunciation is especially important if there are people in the audience who are hard of hearing.
  • Always be respectful and only use humor if it is appropriate. It may be one of the last occasions for friends and family of the deceased to see their loved one. A funeral gives mourners a chance to say goodbye and demonstrate their love and respect for the deceased person one last time. Then, the healing process can begin. 

A Great Eulogy Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

A eulogy can be a difficult task to undertake. But when it is well crafted, it can provide comfort and closure for friends and family members who are mourning the loss of their loved one. By following these tips, you can start your eulogy off on the right foot and help ensure that it honors the memory of your loved one.

Thank you for visiting our blog and checking out this post on how to start a eulogy. We hope that we’ve been able to provide some good tips and information about the best ways to begin your speech honoring someone who has passed away. If you liked what we had in here, please share it with others if they need help writing a eulogy.

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