How to Write a Eulogy for a Brother

5 October 2020

How to Write a Eulogy for a Brother

Losing a sibling is like losing a limb. They are a carbon copy of you regardless of how different you may be in terms of personality, looks, interests and opinions. When you lose a brother, you also lose a trusted companion.

If your brother was older than you, it was likely that they cared for you when you were young, and advised you as you grew up. If your brother was younger than you, it was likely that they were your practice for being a parent one day. You cared for them during babysitting duties where your parents were away, and watched over them to make sure they were on the right path in life. Perhaps you taught them how to ride a bicycle or throw a baseball the right way. If your brother was around the same age as you, then it was likely that they were one of your best friends, who you shared similar growing pains with.

In any case, your brother passing on to the next life feels unnatural and it is a tough experience to go through. Unless your brother was a couple of decades older than you, losing him probably meant he passed away before he reached his golden years. Even then, it feels like a sudden loss because you're so used to them being there in your life.

When your brother moves on to another realm, there are many aspects of funeral planning that you and your family have to consider. One of the most important is the eulogy. Your brother was always there for you through thick and thin, so it would be fitting for you to honor him by giving a beautiful eulogy. I know writing and delivering a eulogy can be a difficult undertaking, because oftentimes it is hard to find the right words after someone's passing. The pain inside you is still palpable and all of a sudden you are asked to talk about your brother in the past tense. It can be disorienting, but giving a eulogy for your brother is one of the greatest ways you can pay tribute to the awesome sibling he was.

Whether you have lots of time to prepare for the funeral or not, there are some basic steps you can follow that will allow you to give your brother a proper eulogy. We've outlined those steps so that you one less thing to stress over during this time of grief and healing.

Eulogy for a brother

1. Write a First Draft

As with any piece of writing, it is important to write a first draft. It will contain the "raw" version of your thoughts, emotions, and other elements of your narrative. It's the piece of document that you will end up editing many times before finalization. The first draft is also a way to remind you that you shouldn't rush something as important as a eulogy. Don't just write a eulogy quickly and then forget about it until the funeral. You should take your time to perfect it because it's a special speech meant to honor your dearly departed. The first draft is your starting point, your first step towards delivering your loving tribute.

2. Fact-Check

If you're going to include biographical information about your brother, be sure to think like a journalist. This means you should fact-check every piece of information in your eulogy. Even if you believe you know your loved one very well, it doesn't hurt to verify with source materials and other members of your family, or even colleagues who might know about your loved one's work or career better than you. In a eulogy, there is no room for error. Once it is delivered at the funeral, in front of an audience no less, it cannot be redone. So, make sure that any information in your eulogy is correct and accurate. Your loved one deserves this special attention to detail.

3. Speak From the Heart

This is a speech for someone you love and hold close to your heart, so speak from your heart. In the writing community, there's a term called "spilled ink," which means stream of consciousness writing. It is when you write without inhibitions and you throw logic out of the window. You simply write or speak what's on your mind. That's why it's important to have a first draft; it is where you can spill your ink. Later on, after your catharsis, you can then edit it so that it is coherent for the audience.

Again, you should feel free to express your emotions and thoughts, but also keep in mind that there may be some topics that would be inappropriate for a eulogy, such as personal secrets between you and the loved one, or any animosity you felt for your dearly departed. Honor your loved one's loyalty and keep your secrets locked in a vault in your mind. Let go of any past transgressions and petty gripes. Hatchets are buried once a person has passed away. Remember what you loved about them instead.

4. Tone of Voice

What we mean by "tone of voice" is not limited to the actual tone of your vocalizations, but rather the feel and temperament of what you say as well. For instance, a eulogy is, for obvious reasons, said in a solemn and serious tone. However, you can bring up lighter stories and even appropriate jokes. You're not just mourning their passing but also honoring their life. So, don't think that your eulogy has to be fully serious. We recommend that you place the lighter material at the beginning of your eulogy. This will help break the ice with the audience and help them relax.

5. Length and Time

Typically, a eulogy is around three to five minutes long as a speech. We advise that you make sure it doesn't take longer than ten minutes. The length of your eulogy will depend on your pacing, or how fast/slow you deliver it. We recommend a slower pace so that you can enunciate and articulate your thoughts more clearly. As a written document, your eulogy should be between 500 and 1,000 words. Keep in mind that others might also be delivering eulogies and other speeches after you, so you want to give others their dedicated time to honor your brother.

6. Proofread

While spelling and punctuation is not a primary concern, since it's a speech rather than an article for the New York Times, it is still important to proofread your eulogy. In particular, you should pay attention to the grammar of your speech, because grammar translates on to your vocal delivery, whereas spelling usually doesn't. It is best to ask someone else to look it over for you, not just for grammar corrections, but also to have an objective eye read your writings.

7. Practice

Practice reading your eulogy out loud so that you can get a feel for the rhythm and pacing. Reading out loud will also help you memorize the eulogy, which will help you speak in a more natural way when you finally deliver it to the audience. First, practice by yourself so that you're comfortable and there's less pressure. Then, once you've established your rhythm and pace, and have found the style of delivery most natural to you, you can begin reading it out loud in front of close family and friends. This will also allow you to practice addressing a group of people, which is different than simply reciting by yourself because you'll have to interact with the audience in subtle ways. This brings us to the next element of delivering a eulogy. Read on.

8. Eye Contact

I know it can be hard to look at some people in the eyes during a funeral or wake, particularly close family members and friends who were just as close to your departed loved one as you were. You can see the pain in their eyes, but it is important to establish eye contact with your audience. Making eye contact projects your presence and allows you to command their attention during this very important tribute to your loved one. Also, making eye contact with different people in the audience will show that you're aware of their own presence. It makes your eulogy more personal and intimate, as if you are saying to the people, "I'm here with you and I am here for you."

Now that you know the basics of writing a eulogy for your brother, you can approach it with your own style of writing, and add other elements you feel is appropriate. Remember, each eulogy is as unique as the person you are eulogizing. Use our tips as a foundation, but it is up to you how you want to honor your brother. Write and deliver him a eulogy that he would be proud of. it is one of the best gifts you could ever give him.