9 Things You Should Not Include in a Eulogy

|

November 8, 2023

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

what not to put in a eulogy

9 Things You Should Not Include in a Eulogy

|

November 8, 2023

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

what not to put in a eulogy

9 Things You Should Not Include in a Eulogy

|

November 8, 2023

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

what not to put in a eulogy

9 Things You Should Not Include in a Eulogy

|

November 8, 2023

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

We'll help organize your deceased loved one’s estate

Trustworthy's easy-to-use software and personalized service can help you categorize and share important documents during this difficult time for your family.

We'll help organize your deceased loved one’s estate

Trustworthy's easy-to-use software and personalized service can help you categorize and share important documents during this difficult time for your family.

Dealing with the aftermath of a loved one's passing is stressful. Writing a solid eulogy can be equally overwhelming, especially if you're not sure what to include and what to avoid. 

While you do have a choice in what to include in your eulogy, there are some things that you should leave out to best honor the deceased’s memory.

Key Takeaways

  • Do not include past grudges, details about the death or inappropriate humor in the eulogy.

  • Be positive and prepared when delivering the speech.

  • A good eulogy starts with an engaging introduction and ends with something memorable like a poem or saying. 

What to Avoid When Writing a Eulogy

When writing your eulogy, remember it’s a speech at the funeral paying tribute to your loved one. It’s a way to honor and speak highly of them, which is why you should avoid adding things that are hurtful, embarrassing, or in poor taste. 

Here are the key things you’ll want to leave out at all costs. 

1. Listing Embarrassing Details 

Everyone has an embarrassing story or two in their past. However, a funeral is not the appropriate time to bring up such episodes. Keep in mind that a eulogy should be respectful and dignified. 

Unless you got permission before they passed away, the deceased person likely wouldn’t appreciate an embarrassing story or detail about them shared. 

Sharing these types of stories is not only disrespectful to the deceased, but it can also embarrass the family and close friends. 

2. Sharing Private and Confidential Matters 

Avoid including private and confidential details about the deceased and their family when writing the eulogy. Only include things you personally would be comfortable sharing with strangers. 

This could include information like medical conditions, finances, family history, long-held grudges and relationships. If you're ever in doubt about adding something, ask the family or trust your gut and leave it out of the eulogy. 

3. Listing Specific Details About the Death

The passing of a loved one is a difficult enough time. If the death was particularly traumatic or controversial, oversharing the details can cause added hurt to the family. 

Suppose the person passes away from battling with addiction or suicide. In that case, it’s in poor taste to divulge these details unless the family has asked to include the information.

Also, sometimes, a death may be part of an ongoing investigation with law enforcement, which is another reason to keep the specific details private.

Trustworthy's award-winning software and expert advisors can assist your family during this challenging time by organizing and sharing your loved one's important information.

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Trustworthy's award-winning software and expert advisors can assist your family during this challenging time by organizing and sharing your loved one's important information.

Let us help get your deceased loved one's estate in order

Trustworthy's award-winning software and expert advisors can assist your family during this challenging time by organizing and sharing your loved one's important information.

Let us help get your deceased loved one's estate in order

Trustworthy's award-winning software and expert advisors can assist your family during this challenging time by organizing and sharing your loved one's important information.

Let us help get your deceased loved one's estate in order

4. Sharing Past Grudges & Resentment

Avoid talking about past grudges and any resentment about the deceased, whether you feel these feelings personally or it's about another person. It can be offensive to the deceased and the family, as well as hurtful. 

The purpose of a eulogy is to honor the person who passed, and bringing up past grudges and resentments goes directly against that. 

Eulogy writer Rich Szewczyk advises: “Don’t focus on negative memories, thoughts or stories about the deceased. You are telling their life story and honoring them. Incorporating faults, shortcomings, old hurts, grudges, family rifts, and past arguments in your speech is never a good idea.”

5. Talking About Yourself Too Much

Sometimes, the person writing the eulogy forgets who it’s about. The speech should focus on the deceased as a way to honor their life, achievements and their family. 

Yes, you're grieving, and your feelings are valid, but avoid talking too much about yourself and how you feel. Keep the focus on celebrating the life of the person who passed. 

6. Putting Words Into the Deceased's Mouth

Avoid speculating over what the deceased might say, and don’t put words in their mouth. If you want to make the eulogy feel more personal, you can add poems, sayings, and even phrases or things the person who passed said.

Don’t add in words, phrases, or opinions you and the family know the deceased would never say, feel, or agree with. This is disrespectful to their memory.

7. Not Being Personal Enough

The whole purpose of a eulogy is to honor the deceased and pay tribute to their life. Avoid making the eulogy too businesslike. If you write a eulogy that simply lists accomplishments in a very formal tone, it can feel like you’re reading a resume.

Be sure to keep the tone respectful and serious, yet lighthearted and personal. It should tell a story instead of sounding like a list of highlights.

8. Rambling and Going Off-Topic

It's important to stay focused and organized when writing a eulogy. Avoid rambling or going off on tangents that may confuse your audience or detract from the main message of honoring the deceased.

Stick to key points, anecdotes, and memories that highlight the positive aspects of their life and character. Be concise in your storytelling while still conveying depth and emotion.

Additionally, avoid including irrelevant information or personal opinions that may not resonate with everyone at the memorial service. 

9. Using Inappropriate Humor

Be careful if you choose to include humor. Avoid using tasteless jokes or stories that will make the audience and family members feel uncomfortable. 

A eulogy doesn't have to be a formal and somber speech. Add appropriate humor if you feel it is right, but keep it tasteful. 

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Collaborative

You can collaborate with your advisor and your family members so that everyone has access to the right information at the right time.

Service included

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Protect everything that matters

Keep track of your loved one's essential information, including their will, passwords, insurance policies, and financial details.

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We’ll match you with a Trustworthy Certified Expert™ — a real person in your city — who will help you organize your loved one's estate with the award-winning Family Operating System®.

Secure & private

256-bit AES encryption, two-factor authentication, and HIPAA and SOC 3 compliance ensure all information is protected.

Collaborative

You can collaborate with your advisor and your family members so that everyone has access to the right information at the right time.

Service included

Our Trustworthy Certified Experts™ have decades of experience and have worked with hundreds of families.

Protect everything that matters

Keep track of your loved one's essential information, including their will, passwords, insurance policies, and financial details.

Let us help organize your deceased loved one's affairs

We’ll match you with a Trustworthy Certified Expert™ — a real person in your city — who will help you organize your loved one's estate with the award-winning Family Operating System®.

Secure & private

256-bit AES encryption, two-factor authentication, and HIPAA and SOC 3 compliance ensure all information is protected.

Collaborative

You can collaborate with your advisor and your family members so that everyone has access to the right information at the right time.

Service included

Our Trustworthy Certified Experts™ have decades of experience and have worked with hundreds of families.

Protect everything that matters

Keep track of your loved one's essential information, including their will, passwords, insurance policies, and financial details.

It's OK to include funny stories, jokes and tales from the deceased's life, but you should do so in a respectful manner. 

Darcey Peterson, a professional eulogy writer in Washington state, advises: “Don’t be afraid to use bits of appropriate well-placed humor. Humor is as universal as sadness. Humor and laughter can help us process grief very much in the same way as crying can.”

4 Things to Do When Writing a Eulogy

Now that you know what to avoid, here are some things you should include when writing a eulogy that will help you write one successfully:

1. Tell Stories

Be sure to paint a positive and meaningful picture of the person who passed by sharing important stories about their life. Add your favorite memories of them, and also recount tales that will make the audience feel closer to them.

Trustworthy's easy-to-use software and personalized service help get your loved one's estate in order during this difficult time for your family.

Let us help organize your deceased loved one's affairs

Trustworthy's easy-to-use software and personalized service help get your loved one's estate in order during this difficult time for your family.

Let us help organize your deceased loved one's affairs

Trustworthy's easy-to-use software and personalized service help get your loved one's estate in order during this difficult time for your family.

Let us help organize your deceased loved one's affairs

Trustworthy's easy-to-use software and personalized service help get your loved one's estate in order during this difficult time for your family.

Let us help organize your deceased loved one's affairs

Peterson notes: “The best eulogies are always derived from our stories. It’s so much more powerful to show the world who someone was, rather than just tell them. Capture your loved one through storytelling. What stories come to mind first when you think of your loved one?”

Before writing the eulogy, gather stories from family members and close friends and pick the most poignant ones to include. 

Baltimore funeral director Vaughn Greene advises: “In your grief, you may forget crucial details that should be included, so involving others can be a wonderful way to make sure no important information is overlooked.”

2. Center the Eulogy Around the Deceased

Remember, when writing the eulogy, it’s about the deceased. It's OK to talk about the people the person was close with, but the focus should still be on the deceased and their life. 

Stick to their accomplishments, achievements, and what made them so special to people. If the deceased was naturally funny, you might want to add some of their favorite jokes or sayings. This makes the eulogy feel more personal and adds some lightness and positivity to the heavy and sad tone of the day. 

3. Share What the Deceased Person Meant to You

Make the eulogy more effective by sharing what the deceased meant to you and your family. Share the important impact they had on your life, how they were there for you, and/or how they helped you in some way. 

Focus on the times you shared and explain why you will miss them. 

4. Consider the Audience

Consider the audience when writing your eulogy. Ask yourself who will be there: will there be mostly friends, family or work colleagues? Consider their age and their culture before writing the eulogy, as this can impact the tone and content that you will use. 

For example, the older generation will have a different opinion on how traditional your eulogy will be and may get offended if it is unique. 

5. Speak from the Heart

Speaking from your heart will result in a more personal and emotional eulogy, which the family of the deceased will appreciate.  

There are many options nowadays to use a ready-made template or even use AI tools to write the eulogy, but that isn't speaking from the heart. Put in the additional effort to make it meaningful.

Example of a 'Bad' Eulogy

You've learned what to avoid adding to a eulogy, but what does that actually look like? Here is an example of a “bad” eulogy:

“Hello, everyone. My name is Sharon, and I am the daughter of Steve. I never spent much time with my dad, and frankly, there's not much I can share about our time together. Nonetheless, I would like to take this opportunity to talk a little more about my father.

"Everyone who knew him knew he loved to work and how many hours he would put in at the office. My mother can attest to this, and so can my many missed soccer games. So it came as no surprise he died of a heart attack at work. When he did have time, my dad could be the funniest to be around. He was always making jokes, and most of them were about my poor mathematical skills. 

"So, here's to you, Dad. We'll miss you in some way.”

The tone is disrespectful and centers around the daughter's grudge against her father. She didn’t share good memories, used a tasteless joke about death, and the speech could also embarrass the mother mentioned in the eulogy. 

Example of a Good Eulogy

Here’s what a strong, positive eulogy should look like:

“Dear friends and family, I am so honored to be here to celebrate the life of Bill. He was my grandfather and someone who played a special role in my life. He was a friend, my biggest supporter, and he always had candy hidden away from his wife, Lucy. Sorry, Grandma. 

"He was well-loved by the community and would often help out at the local picnics or whenever a neighbor needed something. He always had a smile and joke for anyone feeling down and lent a shoulder to cry on when needed. 

"In both his personal and work life, my grandfather had a truly admirable ethic. He taught me what it meant to be responsible, ambitious and kind. 

"So, let us not dwell on his passing but celebrate his life, the love he gave, and the lessons he taught us. I know he's smiling down on us now.”

Such a eulogy contains special memories, is spoken from the heart, and is personal. It also retains some privacy for the family and is not all about the speaker.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best closing line for a eulogy?

There is no right or wrong answer, but you can end with the deceased favorite poem, saying, or Scripture. It’s best practice to end with something memorable on a high note.

What makes a powerful eulogy?

Make your eulogy powerful by adding poems, anecdotes and interests that mattered the most to the deceased. 

How do you avoid crying when reading a eulogy?

Crying is normal when reading a eulogy because it's a very emotional time. However, you can try techniques like focusing on your breathing, having a support person, and even memorizing the eulogy.  

How do you start an attention-grabbing eulogy?

Start by introducing yourself or saying a fun poem or quote that has meaning to the deceased. This will set the tone for the rest of the speech.

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