Writing a eulogy for a loved one is something people often struggle with – how do you capture the essence of someone’s personality and a lifetime of experiences, relationships and memories in just one piece of writing or speech?

Here, we break down the various elements that make up a eulogy as well as provide you with a sample of one as a guideline, to help you portray the spirit and lifetime of a loved one:

  1. Start with providing some basic context of your loved one – their full names and date and place of birth, as well as who their parents were/are. How many siblings did they have? Where they the oldest or the youngest?
  2. Then mention a bit about the era in which they lived. Did they live through particularly difficult economic hardships? A war?
  3. Next, we recommend mentioning a bit about their childhood and any funny or sweet anecdotes or memories.
  4. Then move on to their early adulthood – what education did they have and what career and hobbies and interests did they pursue?
  5. Where they married or in a romantic relationship? How many children did they have? Here is also a good section to include another anecdote or a bit about who they were – a caring parent? A wonderful provider?
  6. As you move through the story of their life, mention any highs or lows they may have experienced and any challenges they overcame or accomplishments achieved. Did they like to travel? Go on holiday?
  7. Then move on to their latter years. Where did they live? Did they develop any new interests at this time of their life?
  8. Lastly, mention any special thank yous (nursing staff, minister, volunteers, church family etc.)

Here is an example of a eulogy to give you an idea of the tonality:

“Margaret Anderson was born in Durban on the 20th of January 1920, the youngest of five children. She had a close relationship with her siblings, and annual visits from her sisters continued over the years. Her relationship with her brother, Bill, was particularly close. Margaret met and married Newton Westray after a whirlwind romance, and went on to have four children: Murray, Duncan, Anne and Robert. She was widowed at the age of 54. Her family grew to include 8 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. She was a working mother, and continued to work well past her retirement age. After she retired she became involved with meals-on-wheels, where she helped for many years.

Being active and involved with people was important to her. She enjoyed the friendship that the PADCA Club offered, until she was no longer able to attend. During her life she had a few very good friendships, which she treasured.

Margaret was a member of the Baptist Church for many years, and was baptised as a young woman. The fellowship of the church was an essential part of her life. As a young mother she was a very precise, “in charge” person who had very set ideas on how things should be done, she was very traditional in her values. With time she mellowed.

Family was very important to her. She had a great sense of pride in her family, and her annual trips to Johannesburg gave her great joy. Christmas in Pietermaritzburg just wasn’t the same!

Margaret had a good sense of humour, she loved singing and dancing, and would give the youngsters a good go on the dance floor. She was an avid supporter of the South African cricket team, and detested the “Aussies” with passion, much to the delight of her grandchildren.

An outing for some tea and scones, or a drive in the car was a great delight. A visit to the shops was always on, and she would have loved our new mall.

Even when she became very frail, she continued to take great joy in nature’s beauty. She never failed to comment on a flowers beauty or the shape of a cloud. Margaret Westray our mom, friend and Nana was not always perfect, but she was always there for us and loved us unconditionally.

She is remembered with deep affection and love.


I believe it is appropriate for me to express appreciation to Anna and Stephan for the way they cared for Margaret when she could no longer care for herself – this is very demanding. Eventually, she needed full-time frail care, and moved to Riverside. There she received exceptional attentive care. The family asked me to express their special thanks to Jane Bannister, and the caregivers in the pink wing at Riverside, for the way they respected Margaret’s dignity, and showed her love and understanding at all times.

We thank God for you.”

If you need any assistance or guidance with writing a eulogy, please do contact us!

The Oakleigh Funeral Home Team