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Types Or Styles of Eulogies - (Back To Sympathy Info)

There are many different styles of eulogies, memorial speeches or tributes. The type chosen will depend on the person being remembered, the nature of the death and the occasion for the eulogy. This article summarizes some of the most common and provides representative examples from notable speeches and tributes.

Some of the most common ways to organize a eulogy, memorial speech or tribute include:

1. Chronological or Life History - Chronological or Reverse Chronological
2. Shared Memories
3. Tribute
4. Legacy
5. Using Main Points
6. Special Theme

  • Religious
  • Humorous
  • Given for Someone Unknown
  • Musical
  • Toasts

1. Chronological or Life History:

Eulogies given as a life history include interesting parts and aspects of the person's life such as early work experience, military history, personal readings from the deceased person's letters, diaries, journals, articles etc. Anecdotes and stories are often included as part of the life story telling.

2. Shared Memories:

Shared memories or personal recollections about the deceased is a very moving way of organizing a eulogy. This style of eulogy is based on your the speakers personal memories of the deceased, rather than a lot of researched details about the person's life history, so may be easier to write.

3. Tribute:

The tribute theme is the common form used in newspaper obituaries. The tribute eulogy focuses the highlights, accomplishments, achievements and awards in the person's life.

4. Legacy:

The legacy theme focuses on what the person leaves behind, highlighting the person's achievements, projects, publications, successes, profession and endeavors. The legacy eulogy also looks at the personal legacy--the family and children left behind.

5. Main Points:

Using main points is a common way of organizing speeches. The speech should focus on the chosen major points about the deceased. The points should be made in the beginning of the speech, in the middle and conclude by summarizing the the main points.

6. Special Theme or Concept:

When planning the eulogy a certain theme may develop. The theme chosen will depend on the person, the nature of the death and the occasion for the eulogy. A formal religious funeral will need a different eulogy than one for a celebration of life service.

The eulogy might be organized around how the person loved a challenge or was always there for a friend, a list of the person's favorite expressions, some memorable stories, humanitarian efforts or the various roles the person played in life.

Some of the common special themes or concepts include:

  • Religious
  • Humorous
  • Given for Someone Unknown
  • Musical
  • Toasts

Special Theme - Religous:

A formal religious funerals often have certain rules and traditions that are followed as part of the service. In many religious funerals a homily or a eulogy is given that also includes lengthy sermon about a particular topic.

Special Theme - Humor:

The theme that should perhaps be done with the greatest amount of care. Obviously the speaker would really need to know their audience and the person being remembered to know if humor or including humorous elements would be appropriate for a memorial speech.

Special Theme - Given for Someone Unknown:

Honored speakers, clergy or funeral directors may be asked to speak at a funeral service on behalf of someone they did not know. With this type of tribute the speaker needs to ensure that he or she has done the research to get to know the deceased person, previously unknown prior to being asked to deliver the speech.

Special Theme - Musical

Music has been used to honor the dead throughout history. The Requiem Mass is a formal mass or service that honors the deceased that is sung on the day of burial and on specific days afterwards. Some of the most moving memorial tributes are musical, perhaps because they combine words with music to show their respect.

Special Theme - Toasts

The Toast to the Immortal Memory is a longstanding traditional toast both for Scotland's National Poet Robert Burns and Britain's Naval War Hero Lord Admiral Nelson. Toasting the Immortal Memory is actually a very appropriate, brief and inspiring way of remembering someone who has died.


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