Writing a eulogy doesn't come naturally for most of us. It's a great honor to write someone's eulogy, but it can feel scary. (Don't worry, that's quite normal.)
After the death of your mother, the task of writing the eulogy may fall to you. (For help with the other tasks you might be facing, check out our post-loss checklist.)
Writing a eulogy might feel unnatural at first, and that's normal. Most of us depend on our mothers for guidance and love, and when they're no longer with us, it can leave us feeling helpless.
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Sitting down and writing about the life of someone you love isn't an easy task. It takes courage to face something sad and move forward through the feelings. But on the other side of sorrow, you may find that your mother's beautiful story is waiting to be told.
Mothers bring us into the world and it's hard to imagine a life without them. They are with you when you take your first breath. They can help you navigate your life. And often you are with them when they take their last breath. Saying goodbye to your mother is heartbreaking. It can feel like you are alone in your grief. And learning to navigate life without their physical presence can be very difficult.
While you are processing the immediate grief, you may also have to plan the funeral. Don’t let those details fill up all your time. You’ll need to give yourself time to write a eulogy to share. It can feel overwhelming to try and fit a lifetime of memories into 500-1000 words. And the last thing you want to do is rush the process.
These tips will help guide you as you write a eulogy for your mother:
Grab a pen and paper (or computer) and let the memories flow freely. Don't worry about sentence structures or connecting the memories. Just get your thoughts and memories out of your head and onto paper. This exercise is a writing style called stream of consciousness. It can be cathartic. And it will prepare you to write a constructive and impactful eulogy.
Pro tip: Don't worry if the memories seem jumbled at first. You are grieving and it is important to be compassionate with yourself. Let the words flow and trust that it will all come together.
2. Focus on the positive
Amid deep grief, it can feel impossible to focus on the positive. During the reflection process, emotions may arise and it might seem like you are stuck in your grief. Trust the process. Allow yourself to reflect on the happy times with your mother. But don’t overlook the difficult times. Make sure you remember your mother as she was. Not perfect, but herself. And find solace in the journey.
A eulogy that encapsulates the dark and light is relatable. It can offer seeds of hope to the living.
You may feel that your mother left this earth too soon. It might be difficult to consider celebrating during this time. When writing a eulogy, celebrate your mother's life. It's an opportunity to include the special things you loved about your mother. The things that made her shine the most.
What did she do that made her loved ones feel loved? Did she have a special tradition or saying? Talk about it. Allow these words to serve as a celebration of her life.
You could also share her favorite song, piece of poetry, or a quote that she loved. It's important to remember that a eulogy is a celebration of someone. This is your time to express the wonderful thing that made your mother the person she was.
4. Stay human
During times of loss, it's common to want to pretend that you are doing okay. For eulogy purposes, you do need to find some composure, but you don't need to have it all together. People respond best to honest and authentic words.
And needing time to work through your grief is important. If you are sad, or you are struggling with a particular memory, write that. It's okay to let your guard down and show that your mother's impact was great, even in loss.
5. Don’t overthink it
It's easy to overthink things, especially when strong emotions are at play. Be kind to yourself. Remember that whatever you write will be enough. Try not to overthink the process.
Allow yourself to write from the heart. If you permit yourself to focus on your emotions, you might find the writing will come easier. If you're having trouble figuring where to start, check out our guide on how to start a eulogy.
Once you complete your eulogy, read it aloud to yourself a few times. And then read it to a loved one or friend. This will help release the immediate grief that may arise when reading it. If you aren't fond of public speaking, these run-throughs are good practice.
And can help you feel more comfortable. It’s important to remember that no one expects a eulogy to be emotionless. Read from the heart and take pauses when you need to.
7. Stay present
Though writing can often take you into the past, work to stay present. Being present in the eulogy writing process can open your heart. You may find that by staying present, you are experiencing an old memory again.
But this time you are a quiet observer. When you take time to reflect on the present, you realize that your loved ones are always with you.
If you are struggling with writing the first lines of your mother's eulogy, you are not alone. Here are some suggestions and prompts to help you get started.
From a son
Words seem to fail me when I reflect on my mother's life. I am fortunate to be her son and it's an honor to call her my mom. I feel like it would take a lifetime to write all of the beautiful memories I shared with her. I would like to share a few of my favorites with you. I hope they can convey how wonderful of a mother she was. [Write memories]
Please take a moment to look at the person next to you. You may know the person. Or you might be meeting them for the first time. We all come from different walks of life. The one thing we have in common is that we all cared about [name of mother]. I am grateful to each of you for recognizing my mother as the wonderful woman she was. Thank you for taking the time to be here today.
From a daughter
We rarely express our gratitude for someone. My mom made sure I always knew how much she cared. She reminded me every day how important I was to her. I knew she loved me because she took the time to tell me. My mom was an incredible person. I feel very lucky to have been her daughter. And I want to express my gratitude to her for everything she did for me.
My mother [name] was loved by so many. She always knew how to brighten someone's day and make them feel loved. She treated everyone with kindness and respect. She rarely got mad and when she did, you knew she had a darn good reason! Her outlook on life was inspiring. If you were lucky to spend more than five minutes in her presence, you were forever changed. I am so grateful to have had a mother who embraced each day with optimism.
For a mother-in-law
We all hope to have a mother-in-law who is sincere and thoughtful. [Name] welcomed me into her family with open arms. She always made sure I was comfortable. And that I felt included in the family. It was a joy to know her for the last [insert number] years. I am grateful for the things she taught me and my husband/wife. I will keep her memory alive.
Today we celebrate a brave woman who raised [enter number] beautiful children. [Name] welcomed me into the family in [year] and it was a great honor to spend time with her. She taught me so many things and we created a lot of memories together. My heart is saddened by this loss, but I am committed to keeping her memory alive.
For a stepmom
It's not always easy coming into a family of [number] children and agreeing to be their stepmom. [Name of step-mom] wore this role proudly. She joined our family without skipping a beat. She was caring and kind. She helped us children grow up to be the adults we are today. I feel very lucky to have had two moms in my lifetime. I will hold [name] close to my heart as I navigate the rest of my days.
[Name of stepmom] played a crucial role in my upbringing. She cared for my siblings and me. And she always provided us with unconditional love and support. She was a wonderful stepmom and I will remember her always. I would like to share a couple of my favorite memories with you. [Share memories and close by inviting others to share their favorite memories of her]
From the Heart
Writing a eulogy is not easy. No one expects you to have the perfect words, or know exactly what to say. And that's okay. Focus on honoring your mother for the person she was. Celebrate the legacy she is leaving behind. And write from the heart.
Looking for more ways to memorialize your mother? Have you thought about how you want to remember your mom after her funeral? You can consider several creative ways to honor her, like by turning her ashes or lock of hair into a memorial diamond or even creating a custom urn shaped like her favorite object.