How to Write a Eulogy for a Friend

3 Easy Tips on How to Write a Eulogy for A Friend

A eulogy is one of the most stressful things that you can do.  It is difficult to write and difficult to deliver.  Public speaking is one of the most stressful things that most people can do.  So, you’re grieving a lost friend, worried about public speaking, and having to write a eulogy to honor their memory.  This is a difficult experience. We want to make it easier for you. We are going to help you write a eulogy for a friend and then provide you with some examples to spark inspiration.

We are going to break down how to write a eulogy for a friend into three key steps. Of course, there is work to do for each but hopefully, this will get you started on the speech that will help you and your friends say goodbye to someone special.

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

What is a Eulogy?

A eulogy is a short speech delivered at someone’s funeral in honor of someone who has died.  You are there to honor their memory and talk about memories of them and the things that you miss about them.  Typically, you will spend a few minutes talking about your lost friend, their life, their achievements, and the things you value most about them.

We are going to talk first about how to write the eulogy.  Then we will spend a few minutes delivering the eulogy.  If you aren’t a professional speaker, no one is expecting you to deliver an amazing eulogy for your friend but we all want to honor the memory of a loved one in the best way possible.

The Approach to Writing Your Eulogy

You will want to spend some time writing the eulogy for a friend.  There are two approaches to writing a eulogy.  Either one works.  No matter how you approach it, a eulogy is typically going to be delivered verbally, as a speech.  So whatever you write, it’s to help you deliver that eulogy.

  • Writing Everything Out – Some prefer to write out the whole eulogy word for word.  This can help you to make sure that you don’t forget something.  You will be nervous, no doubt, so when you deliver that eulogy for your friend, you can have your written text to fall back on.
  • Write Notes Only – Some people prefer to write out just the highlights of what they plan to say.  This can work, especially if you’re good at thinking on your feet.  The good news here is that you are more likely to look at your audience and not read from your notes.  However, it can be harder to remember everything or to find your place if you get lost.

Either method works fine, it’s based on whatever works best for you and is easiest for you to deliver your eulogy on the day of the service.  If in doubt, you may want to start with writing everything out.  You can always distill it down to notes or an outline later on. 

1.Preparing to Write a Eulogy for a Friend

Our first step is to take some time to consider what it is that you want to say. This will involve looking back on memories with your friend. You are looking for traits, memories, and actions that highlight why your friend was special and how you can celebrate their memory. You want to share that “specialness” with everyone else.

Brainstorming What To Write in the Eulogy

You want to start by thinking about your friend.  Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What is your favorite story about your friend?
  • How have they influenced others?
  • How would you describe them?  Funny?  Quiet?  Outgoing?  Dependable?
  • What oddities did your friend have?
  • If you had just five more minutes with them, what would you tell them?
  • When did you last see them?  What did you say to them?
  • How are they different from everyone else?
  • How did you first meet?
  • What saying did they have?
  • What mattered most to them?
  • Any challenges that they faced and overcame
  • How did they most impact your life?
  • Look at old photos of them, social media posts, emails.  These can remind you of stories and memories.
  • Talk to other friends and family about them.

Write down as much as you can think of.  We’ll narrow it down later but for now, more is better.  Write down stories, traits, ideas, quotes, or anything else that you can think of.  If it’s too much, just writing down some keywords or phrases that will remind you, later on, is great.

Before we start truly writing the eulogy for your friend, there’s one other aspect we need to look at. Your speech isn’t just for your friend. It’s for everyone else that’s there too. This means that you need to keep the audience and the venue in mind.

Thinking About the Audience

Writing a eulogy for a friend isn’t just about the friend, it’s about the audience too.  The eulogy is part of the grieving process.  Your goal is to honor the memory of your friend, not embarrass their memory or the audience. 

Look through your notes and cross out anything that could be embarrassing or create any anger.  You may not want to talk about your best friend’s college conquests while their wife and kids are in the audience.  Sure, it’s funny to you but maybe not for them. 

Ask the funeral director how much time you will have.  Typically, this will be about 3-5 minutes.  That’s about 500-1000 words.  You don’t want to prepare a two-hour exposition only to find out the day of the funeral that you have two minutes.  Too long and people get bored (and the person overseeing the service gets mad).

2. How to Write a Eulogy for a Friend – Putting Pen to Paper

Now you should be ready to write a eulogy for your friend.  This is the second step and where we use the work we just put together. Look through the list that we made above and look for any themes.  Perhaps your friend was always there when someone was in need.  Maybe they were always the life of the party.  The person that people turned to when they were in trouble.  Our personalities often have certain consistent traits.  That’s probably true for your friend too.  A theme can help pull together your eulogy, making it more entertaining and memorable.

A eulogy is typically going to have three parts:

  • Introduction – In the introduction, you can introduce yourself and how you met your friend or how you became friends.  This is a good place to introduce your theme.  “From the first day we met, she was always my rock.” 
  • Body – The body is the meat of the eulogy that you will deliver for your friend.  Here you can expand on your theme.  This is a good place to tell a story or set of stories that relate back to your theme.  With the time allowed, usually one story will do it but sometimes multiple will work too.
  • Conclusion – You can close things out by repeating your theme, how you (or anyone else) will lose out by not having them in your life and saying goodbye.  “I know that her memory will help remind me of the strength she brought me, but it won’t be the same without her there.”

You want to do your best to find themes and stories that are uplifting.  Funny is great if there is something there.  Of course, you’ll be sad, and so will everyone else.  Part of the healing is celebrating their life.  A good laugh or a warm story can really help with that.

As you think about how to write a eulogy for a friend and what to say – you can start your writing in order to get things going. Introducing yourself is easy and you can even then move right into how you met. Then, say your theme or key trait that you decided on when you made your notes.

As you move into the body, tell a story or two that highlights that trait. This can be a good time to tell a quick funny story (that’s appropriate) to lighten the mood. You might even get yourself to smile too which will make it much easier to keep going. If you know of other stories that involve others and that fit, you can add them too.

Start your conclusion by restating the theme or trait. You could add how your life will change without them there. Lastly, add a nice note of goodbye and your love for your friend.

Of course, this isn’t the only way how to write a eulogy for a friend but it should help get you started.

3. Delivering Your Eulogy for a Friend

Finally, it’s time to deliver the eulogy, right? Well, not exactly. We still have some work to do.

Rehearse Your Delivery

Before you deliver the eulogy that you wrote for your friend.  Spend some time rehearsing it.  This will help with the nerves (you’ll still be nervous).  It will also help with timing and to make sure that what you wrote flows.

If it doesn’t work in rehearsal, it won’t work that day.  If it doesn’t flow or make sense or have the desired impact, then go back and rewrite it.

 Sometimes, people are afraid that rehearsing a speech will make it sound…well, rehearsed.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If you get up there and read it, it will sound like you are reading it.  Rehearsing helps with your nerves, to make sure that what you wrote sounds as good out loud as what you had in your head.  Professional actors rehearse.  You should too. 

When you are rehearsing, consider how fast your speech is.  We all tend to speak too quickly when we speak.  You might want to consider recording yourself.  We all hate to hear ourselves but this way you can hear the pacing of your speech and any filler words (i.e. “ummms and ahs”).  Learning to hear them will help you get rid of them.

The Day of the Funeral – Delivering the Eulogy for Your Friend

On the day of you will be nervous and you will likely be sad.  You may even be crying while you’re delivering it.  All of these things are normal and people expect it. Besides practicing, here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Follow the rules of the funeral home (or other facility).  Stick to their timing, where they want you to stand, etc.  It’s respectful and your delivery should be about your friend, not about you.
  • Slow Your Speech Down – You will be nervous and likely to speak quickly. Take breaths and take the time to enunciate (speak clearly).  If in doubt, slow it down a bit more.
  • Plan to Make Mistakes – You will make mistakes.  You may miss things, or repeat things or say something you didn’t intend.  The truth is, your audience doesn’t know what you planned, so most of the time they won’t even know if you made a mistake until you call it out.  Even if they do, you can’t fix it now.  Keep going.
  • Vary Your Eye Contact – While you’re speaking, periodically look at different people, making eye contact.  Don’t stare, just briefly make eye contact and move on.  In between can be a good time to check in with your notes.  This keeps your audience engaged and makes sure you’re speaking to them and not your notes.
  • Involve the Audience if you Can- You may not be the first one speaking.  Good chance someone else noticed the same themes you did about your friend.  Acknowledge someone who spoke before you.  “As we heard from John, Martha was an amazingly generous person.  I wanted to talk about her generosity and how it affected my life.”  Tie their speech back in to your eulogy.  Or, if you story involves someone from the audience, acknowledge them, smile at them.  Involve them.

 Sample Eulogies for Friends

Below are some famous eulogies for friends to give you some ideas.  You may have noticed a couple of videos too.  These are all provided to give you some ideas for the eulogy for your friend.  The good news is that a eulogy isn’t typically long, but that doesn’t make writing a eulogy for a friend easy, unfortunately.

Many of these are longer than you will probably need.  They ended up on YouTube or other publications because they were unexpectedly good and impactful, or they were delivered by or about famous people, or both.

We aren’t all Rosa Parks and that’s just fine.  You don’t need a fifteen-minute speech.  These should hopefully give you some ideas on structure and delivering stories.  You don’t need to write as much though.

Other Resources

We have provided all of this to you to give you tools for you to write your own eulogy for your friend.  Sometimes, we need more help.  There are people out there who will help you write a eulogy (or actually write it for you but they’ll still need some information about your friend.)  Fiverr can be a great place to hire someone quickly. 

Our major tip here is to read their reviews and find someone that others have liked and that you can communicate with.  Fiverr is a great source to find someone to help you write the write eulogy for your friend (unfortunately they can’t deliver it for you so make sure you still rehearse).

We are very sorry for your loss.  We hope this helps.


JFK During Parade in Dallas Before Assassination
Snowleopard68, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jacob Javits for JFK

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY FUNERAL EULOGY

Mr. President, hundreds of thousands of words have been published, and hundreds of thousands more have been spoken into the microphones of the world since John F. Kennedy was struck down in Dallas, but none of them were really adequate. Words never are in the face of senseless tragedy.

Words cannot describe how the American people felt when they lost their president. Not until the vacuum of disbelief was filled with the horror of comprehension did any of us realize how much we identified ourselves, even apart from personal friendship, with the president — this intellectual, vigorous young man — and he would have been that if he were eighty — expressing the very essence of the youthfulness of our nation. It seems of little consequence now that there were political differences, or objections to this or that legislative product, though as far as I am concerned there was a very large measure of agreement. What matters is that feeling of loss — that personal sense of emptiness — that all Americans feel because their president was cut off in the prime of life. As a nation, we have lost a president who understood the institution of the presidency, gloried in its overwhelming responsibilities, and discharged his duties with dash and joy, which were an inspiration to the youth of our nation.

But John F. Kennedy was more than that. He was a man filled with the joy of living. He was a husband, a father — and my friend.

For myself, I remember coming to Congress the dame day he did. We were sworn in together on the same January day in 1947. A photograph on my office wall shows that we two, returning veterans, looked a little uncomfortable at the moment in our civilian clothes. It shows us looking at the Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill, and it recalls the first job we did together when we called on the National Veterans Housing Conference of 1947, which we had organized, to back this bill. It was the beginning of an association which extended throughout our careers in the House and Senate. We collaborated in many bipartisan matters, as is not unusual in the Congress. Indeed, in our service together in the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, we worked closely — as did Senator Morse and others — on the minimum wage bill, the Labor-Management Disclosure Act, and other similar measures which were major aspects of Senator Kennedy’s legislative career.

I am a personal witness to the fact that he was resourceful, optimistic, and creative. He became and was my friend, and this is a deep source of gratification to me and to Mrs. Javits and our family.

Mrs. Javits, too, knew President Kennedy well and admired him greatly. She will, I know, always think of the president’s graciousness and the warmth of personal friendship which he exuded.

Only a week before his tragic passing, I saw him in the Oval Room at the White House when he accepted the report of the Advisory Committee on Medical Care for the Aged, in which Senator Anderson and I joined, and issued a statement offering encouragement and help.

He was vigorous and healthy and smiling and friendly — a complete human being, concerned about other human beings who were no longer as vigorous and not quite as healthy as they used to be.

This concern for the unfortunate by many with all of the social graces and all the social status and as much power as America allows one man was what made him so much the symbol of the youth of our country. His wife, Jacqueline, who has given Americans so much reason to be very proud of her and of all American womanhood as she reflected in it, in these last mournful weeks, in the way she carried herself, has said the most beautiful tribute — that John F. Kennedy had the “hero idea of history,” and that she did not want people to forget John F. Kennedy — the man — and replace him with some shadowy figure in the history books.

She need not fear that. There are already thousands upon thousands of people in the world working to keep his memory alive. I have been privileged to join with many others in this body in cosponsoring a bill to rename the National Cultural Center and make it a living, vibrant memorial to this vibrant man who loved the arts. And with Senator Humphrey, I have joined in a bill establishing a commission to ensure that only the most appropriate memorials be created in his honor.

These are well-meaning, deeply sincere tokens — necessary, but still tokens. In reality, it will be John F. Kennedy’s youthful freshness in his aspirations for our country that will keep his memory fresh.

In a real sense we, his former colleagues in the Congress, are the only ones with the power to write words that can transform these aspirations into memorials with meaning. We can write legislative acts, like a meaningful civil rights law, which would consecrate and perpetuate John F. Kennedy’s love for personal and national dignity. We can exorcise from our country — and the American people are doing that even now — those extremes of hatred and disbelief in public affairs which create a climate in which terrible acts become much more likely.

Acts such as these will be his final memorials. It is within our power to establish them. Perhaps his noblest memorial is that he would have wanted such memorials almost as no others.

So, in common with my colleagues in this solemn service — and that is what this is today — I bespeak for Mrs. Javits and my children — and I would place their names in the Record so that as they read this Record when they grow up, I hope they will read their names in it and see that their father spoke with deep sympathy — Joy, Joshua, and Carla, to Mrs. Kennedy and the children, and to the president’s father and mother and his brothers and sisters and their families our deepest sympathy on this terrible bereavement, for our nation and for all mankind, and in the deep expectation that flowers will grow from his grave for the benefit of man.

Rosa Parks Being Fingerprinted
Associated Press; restored by Adam Cuerden, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Rosa Parks from Oprah Winfrey

ROSA PARKS’ EULOGY

One of the great short eulogy examples for a friend. They don’t have to be long to honor your friend.

Reverend Braxton, family, friends, admirers, and this amazing choir:

I feel it an honor to be here to come and say a final goodbye. I grew up in the South, and Rosa Parks was a hero to me long before I recognized and understood the power and impact that her life embodied. I remember my father telling me about this colored woman who had refused to give up her seat. And in my child’s mind, I thought, “She must be really big.” I thought she must be at least a hundred feet tall. I imagined her being stalwart and strong and carrying a shield to hold back the white folks. And then I grew up and had the esteemed honor of meeting her. And wasn’t that a surprise. Here was this petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness. And I thanked her then. I said, “Thank you,” for myself and for every colored girl, every colored boy, who didn’t have heroes who were celebrated. I thanked her then.

And after our first meeting I realized that God uses good people to do great things. And I’m here today to say a final thank you, Sister Rosa, for being a great woman who used your life to serve, to serve us all. That day that you refused to give up your seat on the bus, you, Sister Rosa, changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of so many other people in the world. I would not be standing here today nor standing where I stand every day had she not chosen to sit down. I know that. I know that. I know that. I know that, and I honor that. Had she not chosen to say we shall not — we shall not be moved.

So I thank you again, Sister Rosa, for not only confronting the one white man who[se] seat you took, not only confronting the bus driver, not only for confronting the law, but for confronting history, a history that for 400 years said that you were not even worthy of a glance, certainly no consideration. I thank you for not moving.

And in that moment when you resolved to stay in that seat, you reclaimed your humanity and you gave us all back a piece of our own. I thank you for that. I thank you for acting without concern. I often thought about what that took, knowing the climate of the times and what could have happened to you, what it took to stay seated. You acted without concern for yourself and made life better for us all. We shall not be moved. I marvel at your will. I celebrate your strength to this day. And I am forever grateful, Sister Rosa, for your courage, your conviction. I owe you to succeed. I will not be moved.

Jim Henson
Mark Zimmermann from Silver Spring, MD, USA, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Jim Henson by Frank Oz

“Jim and I were opposites in so many ways.

I think it worked mainly because of patience and understanding, which we had together both personally and in performance. And in the creative partnership that I shared with him and others.

I knew, not all the time, but in the last fifteen years or so, that he was a very singular human being.

Looking here I think I only realise now how large a man this was.  This man that I just worked with and played with, and had so much fun with.

And we did have fun, we had such great silly fun together. The best thing of all—the best thing—is when you watched Jim laugh until he cried. It usually happened when we were recording something, or performing with the gang … and we’d get so punch and silly at two in the morning. And Jim would … just get that high whine … and  he couldn’t speak, and the tears were rolling down, and he’d try to add to the joke and he just couldn’t do it, and it was the best thing to see because you knew he was always busy and always working under pressure. And thinking, it was such a purge and a release—it was wonderful, the best thing to see him do that.

I can’t tell you how much he supported me. I joined when I was 19, 27 years ago, and he’s given me the most amazing opportunities. And he’s taught me so much, just by being the person that he is. It’s very important to me. There’s so much to tell. Let me just zero in on one little thing.

About fifteen years ago, we were doing Saturday Night Live, the first year of Saturday Night Live, Jim and I and a few others of the gang were doing some puppets there. And it was before Christmas , and it was just prior to dress rehearsal and the other guys had gone away to have lunch or something, so Jim and I were hanging around the halls, and as I recall in the hallway Jim came up with a camera. And he said in his own quiet, enthusiastic way, he said, ‘Frank, I need to go in a dressing room with you, and um, see if you’d take off all of your clothes soI could take a picture of you naked?’

I said, ‘whoooa!’ I said, ‘what?’

He said ‘I really need to do this, I need to take some photos of you naked.’

We discussed this for a while.

I said, ‘okay, alright’.

So we went in the dressing room, and I took off all my clothes, buck naked. Locked the door of course.

And he told me how to pose.

He said, ‘put your hands over your genitals,’ which I was glad to do, ‘Bend over like this, and look into the camera in a state of shock,’ – which was not difficult at that time.

So I bent over and I looked, like that, and he took some photos of me naked. Okay, no problem. Um. I got dressed, we did the show.

It was Christmas time, he gave me a gift. The gift was about this large, I have it, and the gift, I’ll describe it to you, it’s difficult, it’s made of some of Bert’s toys. It was a wall hanging, sculpture kinda thing, about this big. And it was a head of Bert, and Bert’s arms are holding a ledge, and on the ledge are about a dozen little Berts, tiny Berts that you can buy in the store at that time, about an inch and a half high , and you could turn them in different direction, looking over there, looking over there, and you could turn them back to look at the Big Bert’s head while the Big Bert was looking down at the Little Berts. And on that ledge underneath the Berts, were faces, photographs that Jim had obviously taken of many of the workshop people who were responsible in the making of Bert, and certainly all of which were responsible in the making of The Muppets. And they were all looking up to camera, and their little faces were tiny , about that big, all along the top of the ledge.

On the edge of this wooden ledge, Jim had painted layers, these striations, which were I gathered like layers of Bert’s mind. Layers of Bert’s soul. By the way I do Bert to Jim’s Ernie. And within those layers, the striations, he’d painted textures, beautiful little textures.

And then, I noticed, Bert’s eyes, the large Bert, Bert’s eyes, the pupils were cut out.

And you look inside Bert’s brain, and there I am naked, looking like this.

I knew he had a good reason.

I say that, to share that with you … oh by the way, he titled that ‘Bert in Self Contemplation’. I share it with you because so much of Jim is in that gift. The detail that he loved so much – Persian rugs and trees and the like – the details in the layers, the textures in which he had so much fun. I’d just see him hunched over all gleeful, doing this.

I could just see him cutting all those photo out so he doesn’t cut the ears or the noses off of people, he pasted them on himself. And the generosity of time in order to do this when he was so busy.

The generosity of taking the time to do it.

And not only the giving of the gift, but the anticipation of giving. I can’t tell you so many times Jim would say to me, ‘Oh I can’t wait to give this gift to Janie, or Brian or David, or whoever. The anticipation of giving was so wonderful with Jim. And the complexity of that gift, Bert looking at himself, me inside, the little Berts looking at the people around, the complexity, inwardness of that. And the simplicity of the concept was also Jim. And the quality of the gift, and the craftsmanship, and it all speaks so much of Jim, that gift. And I think the love … I think that’s when I knew …  he loved me and I loved him.”

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