How to Make a Eulogy Outline (With Examples)

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Writing a eulogy is no easy feat—especially when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. While you should try to speak from the heart, it’s okay to accept some outside help.

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Many people find it easier to speak openly and honestly in a eulogy if they work with an outline. An outline also lets you organize your eulogy in a way that’s easy for listeners to follow. When you give your eulogy, you should feel confident that you’ve said everything you wanted to say, and that the funeral attendees resonated with your message. 

If you’re writing a eulogy, creating an outline with the steps below will help the process go more smoothly and successfully. We’ll even provide some example eulogy outlines for inspiration and reference. 

Steps for Writing a Eulogy Outline

The first major task in writing a moving eulogy to honor a loved one is to make an outline, including points for the introduction, body, and conclusion. Here are four steps you can take to form an organized and easy-to-follow outline to help you best prepare for giving the eulogy.

Step 1: Brainstorm

Before you start getting organized with a tidy outline, it can help to brainstorm everything you want to say in the eulogy. You won’t include everything from the brainstorm in the final eulogy, or in your outline. But the brainstorming process will help you visualize the type of statement you’d like to give. 

If you find yourself facing writer’s block when you’re brainstorming, you can start by jotting down your answers to these questions: 

  • What immediately comes to mind when you hear the name of your deceased loved one? 
  • Describe your loved one in just three words. 
  • What’s one moment you shared with your loved one that shows exactly what they were like? 
  • How would you describe your relationship with the person? 
  • How did the person touch the lives of others? 
  • What did you and your loved one spend time doing together? 
  • What’s one thing that will always remind you of your loved one? 

Pro-tip: You can organize your brainstorm however you’d like: word storm, mind mapping, or just journaling. But the key is to let the words and ideas flow freely without holding back. 

Step 2: Choose a theme 

Once you’ve brainstormed ideas for your eulogy and identified some topics you might want to touch on, it’s time to decide on a theme. 

The “theme” of your eulogy doesn’t have to be extremely specific at this point. You’ll refine it more as you work on your outline. But you can determine what you’d like the overarching tone of your eulogy to be by reviewing your brainstorm. 

Looking back over your notes, choose the items that speak to you the most, and that you think will speak to your audience. Then, make a (tentative) decision about the theme of your eulogy. Here are some ideas: 

  • Precious moments. Share several of your most cherished moments with your loved one, in chronological order. 
  • Key traits. Focus on the traits your loved one had that made them who they were. You can share anecdotes that back up those traits, too. 
  • Your relationship. Share with everyone how your loved one shaped your life, and what your relationship meant to you. 
  • Family. Focus on the many relationships your loved one had in your family, as well as relationships with close friends. 
  • Accomplishments. You might want to reflect on how much your loved one accomplished in life, and the changes they made in the world.
  • Humor. Make your audience laugh by sharing your loved one’s funniest moments, jokes, or “isms.” 

Pro-tip: You can choose two of the options above (or even three), and weave them together to create your own unique theme. 

For example, your theme might be, “how my loved one changed the world with humor,” or, “how my loved one struck an incredible balance between family and career accomplishments.” 

Step 3: Know your time limit

Some eulogies are short and sweet, while others tell a longer story. Before you start your eulogy outline, make sure to find out if there’s a time limit for your speech. 

Reach out to the family member organizing the funeral to ask how many people they expect to give eulogies and whether they’d like you to limit your eulogy to any amount of time. They might say you have as long as you want, or they might ask you to keep your talk relatively short.  

Pro-tip: The average length of a eulogy is three to five minutes. That usually translates to about 500 words. 

Step 4: Choose an outline style

Based on your brainstorming process, the theme you chose, and your time limit, you’ll decide on the type of outline that works best for your eulogy. 

Like most speeches, a eulogy typically consists of an intro, body, and conclusion. But the way you outline each section will depend on the factors mentioned. Take a look at the example eulogy outlines below for ideas. 

Pro-tip: Writing your intro and conclusion first, before you work on outlining the body of the eulogy, is often a helpful step. Doing so can help you get more focused on the message of your eulogy and how you want to open and close the speech. Here are some resources to help you with how to start a eulogy and how to end a eulogy. 

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Eulogy Outline Examples

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when you’re outlining and writing a eulogy. Your eulogy will be personalized and heartfelt, and its content will be based on the person you’ve lost. 

But you can also rely on example outlines, like the ones below, to help you organize your ideas and get started with the writing process. 

Short eulogy example

Maybe you found out you have a limited amount of time to give your eulogy, or you’d just rather speak for as little time as possible. If that’s the case, you’ll need to compose a short eulogy. Here’s an example outline for a eulogy that’s short and sweet. 

  • Intro
    • My grandmother’s favorite line of poetry. 
    • Introduce myself and thank everyone in attendance. 
    • Explain what that line of poetry meant to her and why I wanted to share it with everyone. 
  • Body (main section)
    • How my grandmother impacted the lives of others. 
    • How she specifically affected my life.
    • Tell a short story that demonstrates how she affected my life and/or the lives of others. 
    • What was most important to my grandmother. 
  • Conclusion
    • Summary of the theme—tie everything back to the poetry recited at the beginning. 
    • End with my grandmother’s favorite joke. 

Eulogy outline about family 

If your loved one has a large extended family, you can use family and ancestry as the theme. Here’s a eulogy outline example presenting one way to base a eulogy around family. 

  • Intro
    • There are no words to explain the loss we’re all feeling today. But I find comfort in the fact that we’re going through this loss together. 
    • Mention family origins and ancestry, where the family is from and a little history about it.
    • Our family today is just as colorful...  
  • Body (main section)
    • I’ll never forget the time when my Aunt (Name) and Grandma...
    • Additional stories about experiences Grandma shared with members of the family who are present. 
    • Tell a story about a time I shared with Grandma that’s the most meaningful to me. 
    • Share what all of these stories say about Grandma and her personality, traits, accomplishments, and love for her family. 
  • Conclusion
    • Tie the stories I told back to our family origins; find a way in which they’re all similar and relate back to our ancestry. 
    • Thank everyone for coming and for letting me share their stories and experiences. 

Long eulogy outline example

If you’re the main eulogizer at the funeral--or the only one--you might be asked to speak for a longer period of time. If that’s the case, you might choose to discuss more aspects of your loved one’s life. One way to do that is chronologically, as demonstrated in the example below. 

  • Intro
    • Introduce myself and thank everyone for coming. 
  • Body (main section)
    • Talk about Grandma’s early years: where she was from, what life was like when she was young. 
    • Grandma’s accomplishments in young adulthood, where she went to school, how hard she worked, and what she was able to achieve. 
    • Her marriage and children, how she met Grandpa, and where they traveled or lived throughout their marriage. 
    • Grandma’s proudest achievements: what was it she always talked about the most? 
    • How Grandma handled retirement/illness, and her final years. 
  • Conclusion
    • Share what I’ve learned from everything Grandma told me over the years. What she taught me about work, love, and life. 
    • Thank everyone again, and ask whether anyone else would like to share a few short words.

General eulogy outline

You can speak on a wide variety of topics when you give a eulogy, from the person’s passions in life to what they meant to you personally. If you want a simple eulogy outline that you can fill in with specifics, here’s an example you can use. 

  • Intro
    • Introduce myself and say thank you to everyone for coming.  
    • Discuss how I know the person who passed away.
  • Body (main section)
    • Describe how I met the person in the form of a story. 
      • Example: “When I was 16 years old, I was a sophomore taking a senior-level course in high school. I was also a new student at an unfamiliar school. When I walked into the classroom, the first face I saw was smiling back at me. That was (name): always finding the bright side in life and making people feel welcomed.” 
    • Explain how our relationship grew over time.
    • Share how the relationship with (name) changed my life for the better, or list some things I learned from (name). 
  • Conclusion
    • Ask those in attendance to follow (name)’s example in some way as they go forward in life. 
      • Example: “So in sharing all of this about (name), I want to ask that today, we all try to make someone else feel welcomed.”

Self eulogy outline

Some people don’t trust friends and family members to give the perfect eulogy when they’re gone. Others would like to “give a speech” at their own funeral with some departing words read by a loved one. Another reason you might write a self-eulogy is as an exercise in exploring your own mortality. 

Here’s a brief example of a eulogy you might write for yourself. 

  • Intro
    • (Reader introduces himself or herself and explains that these are my words, rather than their own.) 
    • Explain why I chose to write my own eulogy. (Example: “I chose to write this eulogy so that I could have one last chance to say goodbye.”
  • Body (main section)
    • Briefly talk about my childhood, adulthood, and later years (make sure to talk about specific people in my life and their important roles in these memories). 
      • My first memory (talk about Mom and Dad). 
      • My most lasting memory from adolescence (talk about the moment I met my best friend).
      • One moment that made me who I am, and why it was so important (talk about meeting my spouse and how they made me want to be a better person). 
      • The happiest moment of my life (talk about the birth of our child). 
      • The people who changed me for the better (talk about friends and loved ones I met later in life). 
    • Describe the most important things I learned in life. 
    • Describe my proudest achievement. 
  • Conclusion
    • Talk about what writing this eulogy taught me about life and about myself.  
      • Example: “As I’m sitting, wrapping up this eulogy for my own funeral, I’m realizing how impossible it is to truly say goodbye.”
    • Sincerely thank everyone in attendance for loving and caring about me, and assure them that their love was reciprocated many times over.
    • Close with a sentiment about my hopes for what might happen after death and where I might be now.
      • Example: “If my deepest wishes come true, you can be sure that I’m here with you right now. And I’ll be with you tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, watching all of the wonderful things you do.”  

Eulogy outline for a speech class

Most people struggle with public speaking to some degree. Whether it’s your greatest fear or a minor inconvenience, taking a speech class can help overcome that obstacle. That’s why many high school and college programs require students to take a class in public speaking. 

Since one of the most common public speaking situations is giving a eulogy, one of your assignments might be writing and delivering such a speech. You’ll be expected to deliver a well-organized eulogy that includes an engaging introduction and maybe even a theme. 

Here’s an example of a eulogy that you can use as inspiration for your speech assignment.

  • Intro
    • Open with a quote, poem, or passage about death and what it means (one that’s not frequently used). 
      • Example: “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” - Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
      • Example: “When he shall die,
        Take him and cut him out in little stars,
        And he will make the face of heaven so fine
        That all the world will be in love with night
        And pay no worship to the garish sun.”  - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
  • Introduce myself.
    • My full name
    • My relationship to the person
  • Body (main section)
    • Transition into the body by explaining why I chose the quote, passage, or poem in the intro.
      • Example: “I chose this specific passage because it represents how I feel today, where my own words would fall short.” 
      • Example: “I think the quote I just read might resonate with others here today.” 
    • Talk about how the introduction relates to the person who passed away and the life they lived. 
      • Example: “When I think about (name), I know that the relationship we built will last for the rest of my life. Even though (name) is gone, they’ll never be forgotten.”
      • Example: “(Name) undeniably brought light to so many lives. And I’d like to think that, when I look up at the stars at night, that’s (name), bringing even more light to our world.”
    • Share my first memory of (name) in the form of a story with an introductory phrase.
      • Example: “I’d like to share with you the story of how I met (name). It was our first day in college, and…”
      • Example: “My first memory of (name) is probably similar to many of your own. It’s of (name) making everyone laugh during a team meeting on my first day of a new job.”   
    • Describe how my life changed after meeting (name). 
    • Give a brief overview of (name)’s life and accomplishments. Use a transition sentence. 
      • Example: “Most of us here have known (name) for a long time. But I’d just like to look back at what they achieved in life.”
    • Share my favorite quality of (name). 
    • Describe how my life is forever changed by their presence, even now that they’re gone. 
  • Conclusion
    • Circle back to the introduction. 
      • Example: “Just as Mitch Albom wrote in Tuesdays with Morrie, death has not erased the relationships (name) built or the memories we shared with them. 
      • Example: “So whenever we look up at the stars at night, I want us to remember (name) and know that the joy they brought is forever with us.”

Outlining a Eulogy

Putting your thoughts together in an organized fashion is never the easiest task, and it’s even more difficult when you’re overwhelmed by grief and loss. Whether you’re writing a eulogy for a grandmother or grandfather, a eulogy for a friend, or a eulogy for anyone else you’ve loved and cared for, the process can be emotionally draining. 

When you’re creating an outline for your eulogy, remember to take breaks often to replenish your energy. Sometimes, stepping away from the page is the best thing you can do to overcome writer’s block.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you’re not alone in writing a eulogy. There are plenty of online resources to help, and it’s always a good idea to seek feedback from family and friends. Visit this page if you’re ready to move onto writing your eulogy

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