How to Start Off a Eulogy: Examples and Etiquette

Published July 3, 2020
Bereaved mourning at funeral

Being asked to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of a beloved friend or family member is an honor, but it can be difficult to find the words to begin. Reviewing a few examples can help you figure out what to say at the start of a meaningful tribute to honor the memory of a loved one.

How to Start a Eulogy

There isn't just one right way to start a eulogy, but there are a few basic etiquette guidelines to consider when deciding how to begin.

  • It's possible that not everyone in attendance will know who you are, so introduce yourself at the beginning of your speech.
  • Express appreciation to those who are in attendance, while also acknowledging that they too have lost a friend or loved one.
  • Specify your relationship to the deceased, so that attendees will have an idea of the context of your relationship with the deceased.
  • Provide insight into the overall theme of the eulogy before transitioning to the body of the speech.

Eulogy Opening Examples

To open, say something like: "Good afternoon. My name is [insert your name]. Thank you so much for attending this ceremony honoring the life of [insert name of the deceased]. [She/he] was my [specify coworker]." This will address the first three bullet points listed above. From there, decide how to move forward based on the overall tone and theme of the eulogy. For example:

Sharing Fond Memories

This day is a profoundly sad one, though even in this time of grief I cannot help but reflect on the many wonderful experiences that I - and the rest of you - shared with [insert name of the deceased]. In navigating this loss, it's important for us to remember how much richer our lives have been as a result of our relationship with [insert name of the deceased]. Several of [his/her] closest friends and family members have shared their fondest memories with me. With their permission, I'll share those with you today...

Funeral Poem or Quote

I am heartbroken by the loss of my [specify relationship], but honored to have the opportunity to reflect on [his/her] life with you today. It's important that we acknowledge and fully experience the emotions of this day, on which we have gathered together to say goodbye to [insert name of the deceased]. I'd like to open with a meaningful [poem, quote, or bible verse] to reflect on the human experience of grief and this moment in time, as we gather together to say goodbye to [insert name of the deceased].

Family-Focused Eulogy

To [insert name of the deceased], family always came first. I'm proud to have been able to call [him/her] my [insert familial relationship], and to have had the experience of loving - and being loved by - someone who set such a good example of what it really means to put family first. Today I'll share with you just how much [he/she] meant to this family and ask all of you pray for us as we learn what it means to move forward without [him/her] in this life.

Deliver a Meaningful Funeral Tribute

Once you decide what to say at the very beginning of the eulogy, the next step will be to put together the body of the speech. Consider reviewing a few sample eulogy speeches for inspiration.

How to Start Off a Eulogy: Examples and Etiquette