Eulogies, elegies, and obituaries- what are the differences?

Eulogies, elegies, and obituaries- what are the differences?

Eulogies, elegies, and obituaries are all similar in many ways. However, each one has its own form and a correct way to use it. Keep reading to learn more.

Eulogies are a tribute to a dead person

A eulogy often forms part of a funeral or a celebration of life service. The word comes from the Classical Greek word, eulogia, which literally means "true words". A eulogy is a speech which praises the accomplishments of a person and reflects upon their endearing traits.

Preparing a eulogy for a departed friend or relative requires thought and planning. Here are some tips to help you through.

  • Make it personal. Recount some experiences which other people might not know about the deceased.
  • Make it sincere. You don't need to be a great writer, just let the words flow from your heart. Try to capture the essence of the departed.
  • Make it brief. Funeral goers are by nature a generous audience and they will appreciate your efforts. However, make it shorter rather than longer.
Elegies are tribute poems or songs

Elegies are sad poems written as a response to the death of a person. Originating in ancient Greece, the poem or song, has elegiac couplets which express sorrow or lament the passing of a person.  While it can mention the achievements of the deceased, it is more usually a broader, more reflective tribute.

Most people would not attempt to write their own elegy for a friend or family member. However, there are many classic elegies dating from the Middle Ages through to modern times. You can find some ideas here. Browse through some of them to find one which best fits the situation. Read it through to yourself several times, and practise speaking it out loud. A brilliant elegy can fall short with a poor presentation. Make sure you speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and fill it with emotion.

Obituaries are notices of a death

Obituaries are more factual and less emotional. They list facts about the person's life and death in the form of a short biography. Obituaries are most commonly published in a newspaper to inform people about the departure of a person. Sometimes, however, the funeral or life celebration sheet includes one.