Funeral Chaplain

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Home > Articles > For Clergy > Writing a Eulogy: Collecting information

Writing a Eulogy: Collecting information

Considered by many to be one of the central elements to the service, the eulogy provides an opportunity to share a couple of stories, some memories, and the personality traits of the deceased.  While an obituary captures the details of a person's life, a eulogy attempts to capture the essence of their life.  Often a eulogy will also offer some lessons for those who remain, or some thoughts that we think our loved one would have wanted us to hear.

A eulogy might be delivered by a family member, a colleague, or a student.  Alternatively, many families ask their minister to deliver the eulogy.  While it is preferable that the eulogist knew the deceased, I've been asked to provide the eulogy for a number of people that I've never met.  Whether you've known the deceased all your life... or not at all... I suggest gathering with a handful of close family members and spending an hour together brainstorming the answers to these questions:


  1. What was their preferred name?  Did they have other nicknames?
  2. What were their favorite things? (foods, tv shows, restaurants, activities)
  3. Did they have any hobbies?
  4. How did their faith impact their life?
  5. What one- or two-word phrases would you use to describe their personality?
  6. What did they do for work?  How did their work life relate to the rest of their life?
  7. Were they a member of any organizations?
  8. What are some of your favorite memories?
  9. What were their values?  (guiding principles?)
  10. What everyday things make you think of them?
  11. What did you learn from them?
  12. If they could, what do you think they would say to us when we gather?

By gathering the answers to these questions, you'll be able to sit down and compose a eulogy that reflects their personality, their values, and the memories that people will have.  I suggest that you share a couple of stories (and it's OK to laugh as well as to cry), detail the key points of their life, and spend some time talking about their values and the lessons that they left for us.



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