Eulogy and Obituaries

When someone passes away, part of the entire process of saying farewell, honoring the deceased, etc. frequently includes a eulogy and obituaries. Sometimes people get them confused. Here we are going to take a look at the differences between them and how to write or deliver both. We are going to examine when and where they are used and a little bit of their history.

First of all, what's the difference? Frequently printed in a newspaper, an announcement of someone's death is referred to as an obituary. In contrast, usually in memory of or honoring the deceased, and often delivered at funerals, a eulogy is a speech.

Eulogy – The History

During the 15th century, people first began to use the word eulogy. Ordinarily, we think of these as speeches given during a funeral to honor the deceased, or in memory of them. Occasionally, however, in the case of an elderly adult or someone who is severely ill, eulogies are given to express words of gratitude and love before they pass away.

Traditionally, during a funeral service or memorial, eulogies can be delivered by a minister, priest, close friend, family member, or some other celebrant.

How to Write a Eulogy

Keep in mind that eulogies should be written and delivered with the loved ones and family members of the deceased in mind. Be honest but dwell on the positive. Never confuse, mock, or offend your audience. Additionally:

  • Before creating a eulogy, make a list of special memories and moments. Consider what you want the tone of your tribute/eulogy to be.
  • When delivering a eulogy, state how you knew the person and who you are. Share your most poignant memories and experiences.

Obituaries – The History

On papyrus newspapers in ancient Rome (circa 59 BCE), the first obituaries were published. Not until much later, however, did death notices become prevalent. Numerous obituaries were written in the 1600s but in the 1800s, death notices became more common.

Today, an obituary usually comes out in enough time so that others can plan on attending a funeral if one is scheduled. Depending on the newspaper, it may be run for one day or more.

How to Write an Obituary

Every obituary is different. There are some basics that apply to most, however. Some people even choose to write their own obituary before they pass on. The following are frequently included in a basic obituary:

  • The full name of the deceased and possibly any nicknames
  • The year and month of birth and death
  •  Where and when the memorial service or funeral will be held
  • Where interment will be if applicable
  • Names of family members both predeceased and surviving
  • Major life events stated chronologically
  • Where charitable donations (if preferred by the deceased or the family) or flowers can be sent

Do not include the following in an obituary because it may leave the family vulnerable to fraud or theft:

  • Complete date of deaths and/or births
  • Maiden name (though this is sometimes included for those who knew the person before marriage)
  • Home address

The tone of an obituary is completely dependent on those writing it and the personality/wishes of the deceased. Some are humorous, while others are serious and lengthy. Still others are succinct and efficient.

At American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory, we can assist with obituaries, flowers, cremation, funeral planning, burial, and all other aspects of end-of-life planning and services.