Questions to ask when writing a eulogy
A eulogy is more than just a speech; it’s an opportunity to share stories and memories with family, friends, colleagues and the community. The information you have in your own experiences or the stories you collect from family and friends will help create the perfect send-off for a loved one. Writing a eulogy takes time, and it is essential to think about what matters most to you and them; how can I best tell this person’s life in 10 minutes or less? So, what are the questions to ask when writing a eulogy?
You can’t fake authenticity, so be honest and vulnerable with your answers to the questions below. You’ll need this honesty when writing an engaging eulogy that is memorable for all of those reading it – just like you were during their lifetime!
We keep our loved ones alive through our stories and memories, and a eulogy is a perfect opportunity to tell the world how fantastic your loved one was and the beautiful memories you have of them. Writing an engaging and memorable eulogy starts with collecting as much information about the person who has passed. Some of the information you collect will not get used, but most of the data will form the basis of your eulogy.
Let’s discuss tone when writing and delivering the Eulogy
The tone of your eulogy will depend on the service. You may want to check with family members and friends if it is formal or informal, religious/secular in nature – this affects what kind of language you should use during delivery! Your speaking style also matters, so make sure that they match up too; At the same time, some people might appreciate a more subdued delivery. Be Concise and Organised.
It is important to identify yourself and your relationship with the deceased by providing an opening statement. This will give you direction for your eulogy, which should reflect on their life’s theme and how they affected you personally in some way during their life. For example, I plan to share stories told to me by family members or friends who knew them best, maybe even relating one of my own.
Once you’ve written your eulogy, take a break and come back to it with a fresh perspective. Make sure all the information is there in proper context. Ask someone to read your notes and ensure they can appreciate every detail. Practice delivering this speech aloud.
When it’s time to give your eulogy, you want everyone in the audience – from close friends and family members to strangers to remember everything about the deceased. Before starting, take some deep breaths, calm yourself down so that you are in control, and when you are ready, start reading from your notes. Maintain eye contact throughout your speech and remember to maintain a normal conversational tone, which will help put everyone at ease.
Some of the questions to ask when writing a eulogy are listed below will be of use, but others may not be appropriate for your needs. This list is not exhaustive.
- Had the deceased been ill for a while, or did the deceased die suddenly?
- What was the cause of death?
- Did the deceased suffer?
- Was the deceased living independently or in a nursing/rehab facility?
- Who were their parents?
- Where and when were they born?
- Did they have any brothers and sisters?
- Who brought them up?
- Where did they live?
- Did they travel/
- Did they have any grandchildren or great-grandchildren?
- Any other critical inter-generational relationships?
- Did they have any Godchildren?
- What stories of their childhood did the deceased tell?
- Any stories about teen and young adult years?
- Did the deceased grow up in the city and county where the funeral will be held?
- If not, where was the deceased raised?
- What brought the deceased to this city?
- Where was their Primary?
- Where was their Secondary?
- Did they go to college or university?
- What education level did the deceased reach?
- If they went to college or University what did the deceased major in?
- Did the deceased ever serve in the military?
- Which branch?
- Where did they serve?
- Any stories?
Husband / Wife / Partner
- Where were they married?
- What was their partner’s name?
- Where did they meet, and when?
- When and where did they get married?
- How many years have they been married?
- Is the partner living? If not, when did they pass away?
- How many times were they married?
- How would you describe the deceased?
- What is your favourite memory of the deceased?
- What did you call them—any nicknames or terms of endearment?
- Did they have a pet name for you?
- Is there a particular lesson learned from the deceased?
- How long did you know the deceased?
- What do you think the deceased valued most in life?
- What words would you use to describe their character?
- How do you know the person?
- Did the deceased have any obstacles to overcome in their life?
- How would you describe their outlook on life?
- Please describe as completely as possible?
- Would you describe the deceased as quiet or outgoing or something else?
- How would you describe their personality?
- What do you think the deceased was most grateful for in life?
- What was the most important thing to the deceased (other than family) in life?
- Do you think the deceased had any regrets about their life?
- If so, what might they have been
Hobbies / Interests / Achievements
- Did they have any hobbies or interests?
- What were their hobbies?
- Did you share any of these hobbies?
- Did they teach you or anyone else their hobby?
- If they did, do you have a funny story to share?
- What were some positive attributes about the deceased?
- Do you have a story about one time when you saw this attribute in action?
- What did they like to do?
- What will the best be remembered for?
- Is there anything they hated to do?
- Do you have a special memory that you want to share?
- Did they have an achievement they were particularly proud of?
- Did your relationship with the deceased change you in any way?
- What do you think their lasting effect on the world will be?
- Did the deceased have a Facebook page?
- What did the deceased do for a living?
- For what company? For how long?
- Had the deceased retired?
- Did the deceased enjoy the work?
- Why and to what extent?
- Any other employment?
- Are there any stories about their work-life that you remember?
- What do you think the deceased would say were the most significant achievements of their life (other than having and raising a family?
Questions to ask when writing a eulogy to jog your memory
- How did you meet?
- What is a particular time you recall the deceased was especially happy?
- A time they were embarrassed?
- What is your earliest memory of this person?
- What was the deceased ’s laugh like?
- Were they chronically late or early?
- Do you have any funny stories about times you spent together?
- Where are they forgetful?
- Was time keeping important?
Questions for Storytelling
- Do you, your family or friends have or remember any favourite stories about childhood that the deceased loved to tell?
- Do you remember stories they would tell about?
- The military?
- Getting married
- Becoming a parent
- Going to prom/leaving school
- Learning how to drive
- Did the deceased ever discuss big decisions they made that impacted their live?
- Were there any significant changes to the deceased ’s life that substantially affected them?
- If you knew they could drop by and visit tomorrow, what would your perfect day together look like?
Questions to ask when writing a eulogy to make you think
- What was the deceased’s favourite colour?
- Did they have a favourite flower?
- What type of music did the deceased listen to?
- Was there a piece of clothing or something else the deceased wore that you found characteristic of them?
- Did they have a signature saying or phrase?
- How did the deceased impact your life?
- How will you honour the deceased ’s memory?
- What do you wish you had said to them before they died?
- Was the deceased a religious person? If so, to what extent?
- Did the deceased have a church or synagogue, or mosque?
- Who were their closest friends?
- How did they meet?
- What were their favourite things to do together?
- Are they living?
And Finally Questions to ask when writing a eulogy end with
- Was the deceased involved with any clubs or other organisations?
- Did the deceased hold office?
- What might have been the most important day or days of their life (other than children being born?
- Is there something about the deceased that most people at the memorial service probably wouldn’t know? Perhaps a hidden talent or habit or way of doing something?
- Can you think of three words (at least three – feel free to use more) best describe the deceased?
- What made you love the deceased?
- What trait, characteristic, or value do you think they would most like to have passed on to the next generations?
- Did the deceased have any pets? If so, please describe them?
- Did the deceased enjoy music? What kind? Any favourite songs?
- How do you think the deceased most influenced the lives of those the deceased knew?
- If someone were to ask you what the deceased was like, what would you say in one sentence?
- Are there things you think might be essential for us to know about the deceased that we haven’t asked?
- Would you describe the deceased as quiet or outgoing or something else?