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How to write a eulogy

Write a panegyric

Writing a eulogy can be a daunting task. You are already in shock from the emotions of mourning and now you are asked to write a meaningful text in memory of a loved one. Take a look at this article prepared by author and grief counselor Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt for tips on writing an eloquent panegyric.

How to write an eloquent panegyric

(By Alan D. Wolfelt)

The organization of an eloquent, personalized funeral is one of the most important tasks you will have to perform in your life. Consider the funeral as a gift to the person who died. They give you the opportunity to commemorate and explain their importance in your life. As long as it is personalized, the panegyric is probably the most memorable and healing element of the funeral service. This article will help you choose who will deliver it and tips on writing and presenting the panegyric.

What is meant by panegyric?

Also called eulogy, the panegyric is the speech commemorating the deceased given at the funeral. It recognizes the unique life of the person who died and affirms the importance of their life for all who shared it. The panegyric usually lasts 15 to 20 minutes, but longer speeches are also appropriate.

Who gives the panegyric?

A clergyman, relative or friend of the deceased may give a eulogy. If you prefer, you can ask several people to speak and share their memories. There is also a tendency to ask people attending the funeral service to stand up and share a memory of the deceased. It is a particularly successful approach for smaller or less formal services.

What if the person giving the eulogy does not really know the deceased?

Remember that the panegyric does not have to be spoken by the person running the funeral service. Your priest or the service leader will only say it if they know the family well and can speak personally about the deceased. If the priest did not know the deceased, it is much more meaningful to have the eulogy spoken by a family member or friend. You can also ask several people to speak.

If your family feels that a sermon would be comforting, ask a clergyman to say one. Make sure, however, to have a personalized panegyric delivered by another person (or several other people). If you have to choose someone who did not know the deceased well, share anecdotes or memories that are close to your heart with this person. Ask yourself the following questions: “What are the highlights of the deceased’s life?” “What precious memories deserve to be shared?” “When did I feel very close to this person?” “What were their most admirable qualities?

What must the panegyric express?

We have already mentioned that the best panegyrics are personalized. They tell stories and anecdotes about the life of the deceased and try to capture their personality. If the deceased was generous, the eulogy will give examples of their generosity. If they had a good sense of humour, the panegyric will present funny stories or expressions. The panegyric does not have to cover every aspect of the deceased’s life. In fact, the best panegyrics often focus on the thoughts and memories of the people who utter them. Try to recognize the loved ones of the deceased and the important accomplishments of the deceased, but do not feel compelled to write an exhaustive biography.

Remember also that the term panegyric comes from the Greek term panēgyris meaning assembly of all where speakers delivered orations extolling the praises of a certain person. It is therefore a time to express thanks for the life of a person and to honour their memory. This is not the time to share painful or difficult memories, but rather to emphasize the qualities of people.

Tips for people who must give a panegyric

Writing and presenting a panegyric is a loving, important gesture that deserves your time and attention. Although the task may seem daunting at first, you will discover that as soon as you have come up with some ideas, your panegyric will naturally take shape. After having delivered it, you will be thanked for your contribution and the family and friends of the deceased will always remember your words.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  1. Be brave. Many people are nervous about writing a speech and delivering it in public. Forget your fears for now. You can perform this task. Think of the person who died and the gift you will give to all who knew and loved them.
  2. Think. Before writing, take a long walk or a car ride and think about the life of the deceased. This will help you gather your thoughts and focus on writing the panegyric.
  3. Brainstorm. Take half an hour (or more) to record the thoughts, ideas and memories that come to your mind. Ask others to share their memories. A good way to involve other people in the funeral service is to ask them to share their thoughts and memories. You can then integrate them into the panegyric.
  4. Look at pictures. Looking at photo albums, you will remember the qualities and main memories of the deceased.
  5. Write a draft. After brainstorming and collecting memories, write the first draft. Go to a quiet place and write the outline. Do not try to write perfect text, just write.
  6. MPut the draft aside. If you have enough time, leave it alone for a few hours or a day before going back to it.
  7. Solicit someone’s opinion. Ask someone, preferably someone who knew the deceased well, to read your draft. This person will suggest corrections and help you avoid mistakes.
  8. Finalize the text. Review your first draft. Look for inelegant turns of phrase or heavy terms. Improve transitions between paragraphs or thoughts. Find adjectives and verbs that really capture the essence of the deceased.
  9. Deliver your panegyric with love. Now you are ready to deliver your panegyric. If you are nervous, think of the deceased rather than your own fears. You will relax. If you start crying while talking, it does not matter. Everyone will understand. Stop for a few seconds, and then pick up where you left off.
  10. Speak loudly. Speak loudly and clearly so everyone can hear you.

The final word

Once again, the panegyric is a speech praising someone. Your desire to create a personalized, eloquent panegyric is certainly very commendable.