Have you recently found out about the death of your loved one? Are you looking for how long a eulogy should be? We have added the information you need. Read here!
Funerals are the most challenging part of one’s life to attend. The loss of someone close to you brings a lot of difficulties. In the midst of every grief, the world continues to go on with its problems.
With the grief comes many responsibilities, from arranging the funeral to getting the dead cremated (if he wished) and preparing a eulogy. You might have seen people around you delivering a eulogy for the dead.
Have you ever pondered the significance of a eulogy or why you should deliver it with etiquette? This article will look into a detailed guide to writing a eulogy. We will look further at how long a eulogy should be and the dos and don’ts of writing a eulogy.
What is a eulogy?
The word “eulogy” has come from the ancient Greek word “εὐλογία” or “eulogía,” which means “praise.” Collectively it means good words.
Like a speech at a wedding, a eulogy is delivered at a funeral, memorial service, when someone is retired, or as a term of endearment. Eulogy refers to sharing a dead person’s good memories or qualities through remembrance speech. A eulogy aims to pay tribute to the one who has left the world in the best possible way.
How’d you know if your eulogy is good? Well, a good eulogy highlights the good deeds and impact of the person left on their family, friends, and the community. If you are a close family member of the deceased, you can go on by sharing their unique qualities and how their life has impacted you.
You must be transparent while writing a eulogy. Make sure to reflect on your pure inner feelings about that person. This way, your eulogy will seem more natural and impactful, inspiring others to be like them.
History of eulogy
It is unclear the exact time when the eulogies came into existence; however, they can roughly be traced back to the medieval era in ancient Greece. People used to deliver eulogies at funerals to praise the virtues and commemorate the deceased. It was their way of honoring those who had left the world.
With the spread of the world and tribes, the tradition of delivering and writing eulogy poems became more common. The Roman Empire formalized the eulogy, which professional orators only delivered with exceptional rhetorical skills.
Moving to the other advanced era, people of the Middle ages considered delivering eulogies by religious leaders. In addition, they were only a part of funeral services held in a church, focusing on the deceased’s faith.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the concept of eulogy evolved further and became standardized. They made rules and guidelines for writing a eulogy; whenever it differed from the set of rules, it was heavily criticized and rejected.
By the 19th century, eulogies became more personal and were majorly focused on the deceased’s deeds and character instead of religious knowledge dominance. 20th-century eulogies became more personal and began to include anecdotes and stories about the deceased. It marked the diversity of eulogy writing in the sense of writing, formatting, and delivering.
Today, eulogy remains an integral part of funeral services which continue to serve and honor those who have passed away.
How long should a eulogy be?
Well, how long should a eulogy be in terms of words? Generally, a eulogy should be long enough to provide a heartfelt and meaningful tribute to the dead; however, it shouldn’t be too long that it becomes tedious or loses the audience’s attention.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for a eulogy that is five to ten minutes long or in terms of words; it must be between 500-1300 words. If you want to make them longer by adding further details, you can reach the target of 1500 words.
Eulogies longer than the mentioned word count tend to make attendees lose interest, ensuring your eulogy is optimal.
Factors affecting the time of eulogy
As it is known that a eulogy is a tribute to the dead from their family and friends. However, one of the important questions that usually arises is, “how long should a eulogy be?” This depends on various factors. First, let’s look at the factors affecting the length of a eulogy.
- Wishes of family
- Type of service
- Relationship between the deceased and the speaker
Wishes of family
Including the family’s wishes in eulogies is the first rule of thumb, which may affect the length of a eulogy. This factor is crucial when more than one person wants to deliver a eulogy.
Some members may demand a more extended eulogy to celebrate the life of their loved one, while others prefer it to be shorter. Moreover, the members’ wishes vary by their relation, time spent, memories created, and the deceased’s personality.
It is essential to communicate with other members to keep the information from being repeated.
Type of service
The type of service arranged is the next factor that plays a significant role in the length of a eulogy. A funeral that includes many people in a formal setting might require you to deliver a short eulogy to avoid affecting the attendees’ schedules.
However, a memorial service that is more intimate can include longer eulogies that consist of personal memories and stories.
Relationship between the deceased and the speaker
A eulogy is delivered by a person who is close to the deceased. However, if the priest who doesn’t know the deceased well might shorten the eulogy, you may expect it to be longer than usual if the deceased’s child delivers it.
What to know before you begin?
Other than knowing how long a eulogy should be, studying the correct format and choice of words is recommended when preparing to write a eulogy.
- Firstly, understand your relationship with the deceased. Was he your co-worker or a close friend, or maybe your spouse? It will affect the words you choose and the length you decide in a significant way.
- Secondly, figure out what you will be talking about in the eulogy. Will it be your relationship? Are you writing on behalf of their family, or are you writing to highlight their achievements? These things will help you write in a more sophisticated and emotional way.
- The next thing that you must keep forth is to choose a particular theme for the eulogy. You can choose and stick to any of the themes mentioned in the above section. Sharing overlapping themes is not a good idea as it can cause confusion among the attendees.
- Lastly, while delivering the eulogy, introduce yourself and your relationship with the deceased so the audience understands your perspective.
Why is it important to find the right word count?
While there are no rules on how long a eulogy should be, there are several reasons to choose the ideal length.
Firstly, the length of a eulogy significantly impacts the audience. A longer, more detailed eulogy may result in losing the audience’s interest, and you need more time during the service.
However, a eulogy that is shorter than it should be might not be able to provide enough depth or personal insight into the deceased’s life.
Secondly, the length of the eulogy can also impact the flow of the service. A lengthy eulogy can cause frustration and cause the service to run over time, inconveniencing the attendees. Meanwhile, a short eulogy will not be able to provide enough time for people to pay respect to the deceased.
Therefore, it is crucial to find the ideal length of a eulogy to run the service smoothly and respect the time of attendees as well.
Why is it essential to adhere to family wishes when writing a eulogy?
While writing a eulogy, adhering to the family’s wishes is essential. If you are a friend or family member, you must talk to other members, especially the deceased’s spouse. If they do not agree to include specific details in the eulogy, you must eradicate it as it might harm the dead’s sentiments and reputation.
Moreover, ask the members whether they want a long or a short eulogy; their preferences and ideas must be respected. Some may want a long eulogy primarily based on the life and personality of the dead, while others may want a short eulogy focusing on essential aspects of their life.
The best way to ensure that you adhere to the family’s wishes is to discuss each aspect you plan to mention in the eulogy, along with the time and tone. This will help you understand their preferences, and you will easily be able to meet their needs.
Types of eulogy
Yeah, eulogies are of several types, and it is essential to study each type before knowing how long a eulogy should be. These are the themes on which a eulogy is based. So let’s talk about the types of eulogy.
A personal eulogy is based on the personal experience of the person shared with the person delivering the eulogy. You can mention how the deceased’s actions have impacted and helped you turn your life around. You can be emotional and choose impactful words by quoting what the deceased has told you. You can also share their advice or actions which impressed you.
This type is merely based on your feelings and your relationship with them. It is up to you what event you want to share with others.
As the name suggests, biographical eulogy talks about the life events of the deceased. It may include their achievements that others might need to be aware of. You can even discuss the significant struggles of the deceased and how they fought with grace and courage.
You can also mention awards received by the dead if they were a military veteran.
Next is the specialized eulogy. In this type, the person delivering the eulogy talks about something special about the deceased. It can be a humorous event or a religious proficiency.
Who gives a eulogy?
A close family member or relative usually prepares and delivers the eulogy. However, more people than that can deliver a eulogy.
- Religious leader
- Child or a grandchild
- Funeral home director
- Business associate
In some communities, especially those with strict religious beliefs, religious leaders have given a eulogy like priests, rabbis, pastors, or ministers. The eulogy can include those stories if the religious leader has personal terms with the deceased.
However, suppose the priest or the religious leader does not know the deceased. In that case, he can ask his family and friends about his personality and attributes, which can be mentioned in the eulogy.
Next up, a friend is even allowed to deliver a eulogy. No one can know a person better than his friend. They share the most incredible memories of their lives, which can be incorporated into a eulogy.
Often, family members do not come forward because writing seems daunting and emotionally demanding. Therefore, a friend is called to share his life experiences and find the perfect way to honor their friend.
Child or a grandchild
The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is one of the unique relationships ever seen. They share an emotional connection and loving memories filled with joy and happiness. Sharing a eulogy by a grandchild may offer a new perspective to eulogy because of their bonding with the deceased.
They can bring more emotions and memories than any other person. They may even share their personal stories, like being saved by grandparents after failing a test.
A person with whom you have spent many years of your life and with whom you had kids cannot be forgotten easily. At first, writing a eulogy and delivering it seems intimidating due to overwhelming grief, but they may bring intricate memories to life.
It is common for spouses to deliver a eulogy as they often have a unique perspective of the life and personality of the deceased. If you feel restricted, you may consult the funeral home or the person making arrangements. However, there is no such restriction of not being allowed to share your emotions with others.
Funeral home director
It may come to you as a surprise, but a funeral home director can also deliver the eulogy for the deceased. Although it is not the primary role of a funeral home director to deliver a eulogy for the dead, he can if no one wants to deliver it.
This is usually the last resort and only if the director has a personal connection with the deceased and is comfortable speaking about his relationship.
Delivering a eulogy is not only about family love and is not necessarily always delivered by a family member. A business associate of the deceased can also deliver it. The deceased might have an impeccable career or have contributed much towards his community while in his honorable position, making an associate or colleague deliver the eulogy.
However, this type of eulogy is more focused on the professional life and the attributes which made them loved by all.
There is no hard and fast rule that a eulogy can only be in the form of speech; it can vary in style. Let’s see what several styles of writing a eulogy are.
- A speech
- A poem
- A letter
- A story from their life
- Funny moments
- Childhood story
- Family memories in the form of media
A speech is a traditional way of writing your eulogy. It is one of the most beautiful types of tribute because it will include everything that needs to be said perfectly.
Poetry has always been present as a way to express your emotions. Many famous poets wrote famous eulogies for their loved ones. Thus, if anyone comes forward to present a eulogy as poetry, let them do it.
A letter contains intricate and personal details of a person and can also be a creative way of sharing details. Writing a letter can help you mourn with all emotions you have for the deceased, and you will be able to make peace with their passing.
A story from their life
Was your grandfather the survivor of World War II, has your spouse saved someone from tragedy, or may your son have accomplished things too early for his age? If yes, then you can mention their achievements and the good actions they have committed while walking in this world.
Have you been able to say your last words about your best friend? Delivering a eulogy may be the best way to fulfill the hollowness your best friend has left inside you. You can share funny moments of your life, like sneaking out at night or pranking each other.
Sharing childhood stories through your eulogy might be the best way to pay homage to the dead. You can share a story of the guy next door or across the street and how you have spent your childhood.
If you are a parent, you can share cute moments from their childhood.
Family memories in the form of media
It is optional to deliver a eulogy by merely speaking. You can do that by sharing memorable photographs and videos of the deceased to recall all the good times you spent with them.
How do you choose the right person to write a eulogy?
Once you have decided how long a eulogy should be, you’ll have to decide who will deliver it. It might be you or any close family friend; however, you must remember the following things to choose the right person.
The first thing to remember is to recall if the deceased has selected anyone for the eulogy in his life. People try to make plans for their funerals beforehand. If they had already mentioned someone or wanted someone to deliver, you must abide by that and respect their wish.
The second thing on the list is the faith and religious aspect of the deceased. If the deceased was religious and actively involved in religious activities, you might call the religious leader to deliver the eulogy.
If you were not close to the deceased, consult someone close to the person about who should write and deliver the eulogy. However, there might be a conflict in deciding on the deceased’s “close” relative while he was in a relationship and not married.
More than one person might want to deliver the eulogy on certain occasions. In this case, ensure they deliver with pure intentions and avoid grudges against the deceased. In addition, make sure to discuss the details before writing the eulogy so that no same thing will repeat.
A eulogy is an integral part of a memorial. It can bring a lot of feelings together and make everyone cherish it for one last time with the deceased.
Determining the ideal length of a eulogy can be challenging and requires careful consideration. While there are no rules on how long a eulogy should be, a good guideline is to aim for a duration between five to ten minutes.
Once you have understood how long a eulogy should be, you must know how to choose the right words to write a eulogy. It is necessary to be as truthful as possible to tell others about your relationship with the deceased.
Regardless of length, a well-crafted and heartfelt eulogy can provide solace and comfort to the bereaved and serve as a fitting tribute to the deceased’s life.