Preparing a eulogy can be a heartbreaking challenge — particularly when you’re writing one for your deceased brother. Maybe you’re not a trained writer and you’re asked to write something interesting and moving.
And on top of that, maybe you aren’t a trained public speaker, either— and you’re asked to deliver words in a way that’s clear and not rushed. Furthermore, you’re asked to do these things as you deal with profound grief.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Gather and Organize Stories and Memories
- Step 2: Consult with Other Family Members
- Step 3: Set a Theme
- Step 4: Write and Polish
- Step 5: Get Feedback
- Step 6: Get it in Writing
- Step 7: Practice Makes Perfect
- Short Sample and Example Eulogies for a Brother
Sure, you might be experiencing grief, but you can still write and deliver a powerful eulogy. Here are some steps to get you started.
Tip: If you're not sure what tasks to take on next after the loss of your brother, our post-loss checklist can help.
Step 1: Gather and Organize Stories and Memories
One of the easiest ways to capture the character of the deceased is by telling a memorable anecdote about him. Spend some time thinking about your brother.
What ice-breaker stories bubble to the surface? What story might your brother have wanted you to share? What are your personal favorite memories? What treasured stories are told time and time again at holidays and family gatherings? These are great ways to start building your eulogy.
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Step 2: Consult with Other Family Members
Are you having a difficult time pinning down one specific story to share? Ask other family members about their fondest memories. This will help other people feel invested in the process and it will also give you the opportunity to make sure the material you’re putting together will resonate with your audience.
Step 3: Set a Theme
It’s not as difficult as you might think to bring a sophisticated narrative structure to a eulogy. Select one major characteristic of your loved one and tie in a few different stories or memories related to that characteristic. Did your brother love to cook? Start off with a funny story of how your brother almost set the kitchen on fire as a young child.
Then, talk about how he became a good cook and would even help you prepare meals to impress dates and let you take all the credit. Then list some of his accolades as a renowned chef. Finish by saying that even in hospice, when he could no longer eat, he would still critique everyone’s meal choices.
A theme allows you to weave humor into your eulogy. It also allows you to list the deceased’s accomplishments. This simple rhetorical tool is a very effective way to organize the points you want to make.
Step 4: Write and Polish
No piece of writing is perfect on the first pass. Take your time and know that you may have to go through a few rewrites before you feel confident delivering your eulogy. It’s okay if it’s not perfect right away. In fact, it’s okay if it’s never perfect. It’s more important that it’s from the heart.
Part of the editing process should involve reading your eulogy out loud. This will help you get a feel for the rhythm and cadence of the eulogy. Words often feel different when you say them out loud versus reading them in your head. This will help you make sure there aren’t places where you stumble.
Step 5: Get Feedback
Get input from people — it’s always an integral part of the writing process. Select a few trusted people to give you feedback, preferably people who knew the deceased. They should be able to help you fine-tune any details you might be missing.
Step 6: Get it in Writing
Don’t worry about trying to memorize your eulogy. No one will mind if you need to refer to notes or a printed speech. Delivering a eulogy while you’re grieving puts you under emotional strain.
Your capacity for memorizing may not be up to your usual standards — and that’s okay.
Step 7: Practice Makes Perfect
Even the most experienced public speakers practice before a eulogy or any other kind of speech. Practicing helps you identify the perfect spots to breathe. It also helps you determine how slowly or quickly you should speak.
Most importantly, it helps the eulogy become second nature to you. If you feel confident and comfortable in your delivery, so will everyone else.
Short Sample and Example Eulogies for a Brother
There is no relationship quite like the one between siblings. We’ve compiled some brief eulogy samples specifically geared toward the brother or brother-type figure in your life.
From a sister
- “So many of my friends growing up had older brothers who would threaten to beat up any prospective suitors. This was their way of showing love. Jack was different, though. Instead of letting his fists do the talking, he was a big fan of talking about your feelings. I asked him why that was once. He said he would never want me to date someone who thought violence was an acceptable way to resolve things. That was Jack — he always led by example.”
- “When Sam was born, I thought he was great for about the first three hours he was home. But soon the thrill wore off, and I asked what the return policy was on new babies. In my defense, I was five years old and up until then, had always been an only child. Ultimately, I’m glad the hospital had a terrible return policy because I wouldn’t trade the thirty years I spent with Sam for anything.”
- “The first time we knew John had a knack with animals, he was eight and won a goldfish at the fair. We warned him that they rarely lived for more than a day, but John kept that fish alive for four more years. He also smuggled several stray animals into the house to recuperate over the years. The most memorable one was the raccoon, of course. It was no surprise to us that he decided to become a veterinarian.”
From a brother
- “Mark was 15 when I was born. A lot of teenagers wouldn’t have been too interested in such a younger brother. But some of my earliest memories are of Mark. He was always willing to play hide and seek or teach me how to build a tree fort. He was the best big brother anyone could ask for.”
- “When most kids skin their knees, they go to their moms to get fixed up. But I always went to Teddy. Even though he wasn’t much older than I was, he was so good at taking care of people. It is no surprise that he grew up to be a beloved pediatrician.”
- “Growing up, Stephen’s happy place was always our grandfather’s workshop. It wasn’t unusual for him to disappear for a while and come back with his hair filled with sawdust. The times he spent with Grandpa inspired him to begin designing and building furniture and selling it to put himself through college, and most of the family supported him by buying his work. Stephen may no longer be here, but when we sit at the tables he crafted, we’ll always feel like we’re close to him.”
From a brother-in-law
- “I never thought anyone would be good enough to marry my little sister. But when she met Nick, I could tell he was someone that would treat her well. I was right. He really was almost the perfect gentleman, even if he did have terrible taste in football teams.”
- “Lucas and I met in the second grade when his dad’s company transferred him to us. He and I became immediate best friends in the way that only 8-year-olds do. The first time he came over to our house, he was excited to discover I had a sister. He told me one day he’d marry her and then he and I would be brothers. I’m not saying that’s why he actually married my sister 20 years later. But I’m not saying it’s not why, either.”
- “Not long after we met, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with my wife. And when I met her family members, I immediately fell in love with them, too. I remember hitting it off with Danny from the moment we met. He wasn’t my brother just because of a happy accident of marriage. He was the brother of my heart.”
From a friend who was like a brother
- “When I first left for college, I was nervous that I wouldn’t get along with my roommate. I had always been a nerdy, introverted outcast. Calvin was the complete opposite. He was gregarious and outgoing. But despite our differences, we immediately clicked. He was the yin to my yang. Calvin never met anyone he didn’t consider to be a good friend. I’m grateful to be counted among them.”
- “Many of you know that Scott and I first met in kindergarten. What you might not know is that we didn’t like each other at first because I peed on his sandcastle. I was just trying to create a moat — and after I told him, he thought it was a great idea. We became best buds after that.”
- “Many of you know that Bobby and I played high school baseball together. What you might not know is that we go back even further than that. We played on the same t-ball team. We were both pretty terrible. I would daydream in left field, and when he did manage to hit the ball off the tee, he’d always run the wrong way around the bases. But our skills grew, and over the years our friendship did, too.”
Writing a Eulogy for Your Brother
Writing a eulogy for a brother is an emotionally complex task. It can be tricky to navigate the process of writing a eulogy when your emotions are heightened.
But being able to successfully move and inspire other mourners can also be tremendously cathartic. Above all, remember to speak from your heart.