What Is a Eulogy? October 27, 2021

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What is a Eulogy?

If you’ve ever wondered what is a eulogy? you’re not alone. Simply put, a eulogy is a speech given at a memorial service to pay tribune to someone who has died. 

A eulogy generally focuses on the deceased’s life: their interests, their family ties, their profession, the ways they contributed to the world when they were alive. It is typically delivered by a family member or a friend. 

What is a Eulogy Speech?

A eulogy speech is just another way to say “eulogy.” 

A eulogy, or eulogy speech, is delivered at a funeral. There can be more than one eulogy, depending on the family’s traditions and wishes. There can also be one formal eulogy and then a sharing by others of special memories they shared with the deceased. 

No matter what you call it, a eulogy is a public offering from one or more people at a gathering to honor the passing of a loved one. Eulogies can be serious, but they can also be light-hearted. They can be formal, but they can also be casual. They can be meticulously practiced or impromptu, depending on the ceremony and the attendees. 

Tips For a Successful Eulogy

Like so many other aspects of a personal funeral or memorial service, a eulogy can take whatever shape you want it to. That said, the most successful eulogies are those that capture the essence of the deceased.

If your loved one was very serious, your eulogy might have a more somber tone than a eulogy for someone who was known for playing practical jokes. This does not mean that a eulogy can only be somber or serious. As humans, we are a complicated mix of attributes. Eulogies that can capture the different sides of a loved one’s personality are the eulogies that will most likely resonate most with those in attendance. 

What is the Difference Between a Eulogy and an Obituary?

A eulogy is very different from an obituary

While a eulogy is something that is spoken in front of others, an obituary is printed in a paper or on a website. An obituary is a notice that someone has died. It’s written as more of a biography than a tribute. An obituary focuses mostly on facts; date of birth and death, family members, professional achievements, religious affiliations, charity involvement, and so on. 

A eulogy isn’t about a person’s biography. A eulogy is more personal. It expands the biography to include memories and shared stories. It’s often focused on how the deceased made the speaker feel, or something the deceased taught them. 

An obituary is meant for everyone, including people who did not know the deceased. A eulogy is meant for those who knew and loved them.

What is a Eulogy Poem?

Just like all people are different, eulogies can be different and can sometimes be very creative. A eulogy poem is often called an elegy, which is a poetic form of expression that laments or mourns a loved one. 

It’s logical that poetry is often used to express grief in a communal setting because poetry is not just written in books; it’s written to be spoken aloud. This is different from straight prose, which is often thought to focus on educating and documenting something. 

To understand this, you have to know that poetry originated before prose. It existed before we could write and was shared orally. To make it easier to remember and to pass from one person to another, poetry was written in ways that made memorization easier. Rhyme, alliteration, and repetition all help us remember things in a way that’s different than reading regular paragraphs in a book. 

The difference between a eulogy and a eulogy poem is really just about form. The function is the same: to pay tribute to someone who has died. A straight eulogy is written in prose, just like chapters in a book. It’s meant to be read either silently on the page or to be listened to in a group, but the focus is on content. 

A eulogy poem is also focused on content, but it is also structured differently. Instead of paragraphs there are stanzas with deliberate line breaks. There might be rhyme or repetition that isn’t evident in prose. 

What is a Video Eulogy?

Particularly during this past year, we’ve had to become creative with memorial and funeral services. If it’s difficult or impossible to gather together in the same space to mourn a loved one, there are now ways to digitally or virtually mourn together. 

A natural part of a virtual memorial service is a slideshow or home movie that shares memories about the deceased. Some might have voice overs of family and friends sharing thoughts and memories as well. 

While not strictly a eulogy, these video tributes can be an emotional and unique addition to an in-person or virtual service. Sharing photos has always been a wonderful way to remember a loved one and if there are home movies or recordings of the deceased, it can be very powerful to hear their voice as part of the service. 

Which Should I Choose?

Whether you write and share a eulogy in a traditional form or a eulogy poem is completely up to you. To keep the spirit of capturing the essence of the deceased, it might be a good idea to think about their likes and dislikes. Did they love to read poetry or were they more of a biography reader? Did they write poetry or prose? 

Once you’ve thought about how to best capture the essence of the person you’re mourning, think about what you’re most comfortable doing. If poetry is completely foreign to you, opt for a eulogy that focuses on emotion and shared memories. If you dabble in or write poetry, you might opt to write an elegy. 

No matter what you choose, remember that the purpose of your speech, regardless of form, is to memorialize and pay tribute to a deceased loved one. We’ve been helping families plan services for more than 50 years, and we’ve seen trends come and go. We know what tends to comfort rather than distract, and we’re honest with everyone at each step of the way. We’d be honored to be there for your family during this most difficult time.