How to write a eulogy for a mother

Funeral Planning
A young girl lies on a picnic rug with her mother, and both are smiling at the camera

Losing your mother is one of the hardest things you could ever experience. Your mother literally created you, nurtured you, and made sure you could reach your fullest potential as a person. Our connection to our mothers is one of the strongest bonds in the known universe. That's why when they die, it feels as if our world has suddenly changed.

It's important to remember that that bond with her will always live on. Delivering her eulogy is the greatest love letter you could ever send her. Here's how to celebrate her life and her memory with a meaningful eulogy that really reflects who she was.

1. Make a first draft

To begin, sit quietly and reflect on your mother's life, and your relationship with her. Use those thoughts to make notes that include your feelings. You might also make notes about important achievements, relationships, goals she worked towards and dreams she realized.

Next, shape this raw material into a rough draft of the eulogy. You'll edit this later into something that's well developed and appropriate for the funeral or memorial service where you'll be delivering it, but this starting point is crucial.

2. Check the facts

If you're including biographical information about your mother, make sure the details like places, dates and people's names are 100% accurate. This is your final public farewell to your mother, so this level of attention to detail isn't just justified — it's required. Talk to others who knew her from all facets of her life, and look through old photo albums and journals to track down important details that will help you pull together an accurate eulogy of her amazing life.

3. Speak from the heart

She's your mum. Speak from the heart! Everyone at the service will expect you to be upset — after all, the person who brought you into the world has gone. So don't be nervous about sharing your love for this incredible person, and explaining all that she meant to you.

That said, there will of course be things between yourself and your mum that you'll want to keep private. Don't feel obliged to share everything: share what you feel comfortable discussing, and what is appropriate to the moment.

4. Consider how you'll deliver the eulogy

Often when we think of a eulogy, we imagine a serious, solemn speech delivered in a sad tone. But it doesn't have to be that way. Your life with your mother was filled with the full range of emotions — happy, excited, loving and so on.

So, feel free to express those feelings not just through the stories and memories you share in the memorial, but also through your delivery, including tone of voice and attitude.

5. Keep track of length and time

Typically, a eulogy is around three to five minutes long when it's delivered, but it can take up to ten minutes, depending on what you want to say and how quickly you read through it. It's usually best to read fairly slowly, so that listeners can catch everything you say, and reflect on the meaning you're conveying as you go. To that end, somewhere between 500 and 1,000 words is a common length for a eulogy.

Remember that your eulogy will fit into a larger program of speeches and events at the funeral, so keep to your allocated time, and allow others to have theirs.

6. Proofread the eulogy

While spelling and punctuation is not a primary concern, since unless it appears in the printed service booklet no one will read it but you, grammar and sentence structure is important. Don't just proofread it yourself — have a trusted family member or friend look over it too, to make sure you're not inadvertently making errors you'd rather avoid.

7. Practice presenting it

Practice reading the final speech eulogy out loud so that you can get a feel for the rhythm and pacing, and can make changes to any phrases or parts that seem to read unnaturally. Reading out loud will help you memorize the eulogy, and that will create a more natural delivery when you read it at the service.

First, read the piece alone until you're comfortable with it. Then read it to a family member or two, to build your confidence in delivering the speech. The more practice you do, the more natural it will feel, and the more easily you'll remember what you want to say.

8. Make eye contact with your audience

Perhaps the hardest part of the actual delivery a eulogy is making eye contact with audience members. Given the emotion in the room, and the pain everyone will be feeling at that moment, it can be challenging to look people in the eyes, but it does make your eulogy more meaningful and intimate. It assures those around you that you're there for them, and helps them to feel a connection with you and what you're saying. So make sure to look up from your writing as you deliver the speech, and meet the gazes of your listeners.

Now that you know the basics of writing a eulogy for your mother, you can write it in your own way. Don't be afraid to add other elements you feel is appropriate, such as humorous stories or poems. Remember, each eulogy is as unique as the woman you're eulogizing. A heartfelt eulogy is one of the best gifts you could ever give your mother.