When you are immersed in the emotional process of planning your loved one’s funeral, the details can be overwhelming. You may be wondering about how to handle the eulogy. Your questions may include how many people should speak and how long the eulogy should be.

History of Eulogies

Eulogies are thought to have originated in ancient Greece as a form of mournful poetry called elegy. The word, literally translated, means “high praise”. Today, this brief remembrance speech is a way of relating what a loved one was like in life.

How Many People Should Give a Eulogy?

A eulogy may be given by clergy, family members, or even close friends. The decision of who should speak may involve a combination of factors. Certain family members may request to deliver a eulogy, while others may be too grief-stricken. The general rule of thumb is to allow those who want to speak to do so, if appropriate. But try to keep the number to a minimum so that the service will not run overly long. If you want to include various family members in the service, there are other ways they can do so including handing out programs or greeting guests.

In other cases, religious rubrics may dictate that only clergy deliver the eulogy. In that event, family is often able to contribute thoughts that they would like included in the speech. Some clergy members allow loved ones to share during the service, however prefer to keep the number of speakers to three or fewer. This keeps the funeral service from going on too long.

How Long Should the Eulogy Be?

In general, a few minutes should suffice for a eulogy. Three to five minutes is considered ideal. If you prefer, you can sometimes have your pastor or other officiant deliver a longer, main eulogy, while one or two people spend a couple of moments sharing memories of the person’s life.

How to Write the Eulogy

If you, as a loved one, are going to speak, there are some guidelines recommended by the NMFH (National Museum of Funeral History):

  • Choose an organizational structure such as chronological or thematic.
  • Write your eulogy down. This allows for another person to finish it if you become too overcome with emotion to finish.
  • Rehearse your speech, using your natural way of speaking.

If you or a loved one needs help planning the eulogy or other funeral details, we at Mountain View Funeral Home can assist you through the process. Contact our experienced staff with any questions you may have.