The relationship between a mother and her child is like none other. Your mother has known you longer than anyone else in the world, and while your relationship might not always have been perfect, your connection runs deep. Dealing with her passing might be one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Writing a eulogy on top of that can seem impossible.
You might not know how to write a eulogy for your mother. Don't worry: you can learn that part. What you have to say is special. No one can speak about your mother like you can.
A Eulogy for a Mother – Why It Matters
A funeral or memorial service often features people who speak about the deceased and what they did over the course of their lifetime. It can also offer comfort in the form of songs, prayers, or even quotes from the deceased's favorite literature or poetry. The eulogy, however, adds another level and is arguably the most personal part of the event.
Telling Your Mother's Story
A eulogy for a mother from her child is a story that no one else can tell. It offers unique insights into who she was and what she thought, believed, and valued.
You have unique memories of your mother, but most importantly, you represent your her living legacy.
As you speak, your listeners will connect to your mother and feel her presence. Your words can give comfort to your listeners, release their emotions, or help lift their spirits. Your voice is your mother's voice, in a way, and hearing you speak will give your listeners a sense of both closure and continuity.
Writing the Eulogy – Step By Step
Some eulogists have been giving speeches in different settings for years. Others have never spoken in front of a group before. Whichever category you fall into, the weight of your grief and the many memories you have of your mother can make composing her eulogy an extremely difficult task.
Just as you take grief one day at a time, think about writing the eulogy one step at a time. Don't sit down to a blank page or screen and start composing the speech from beginning to end. Take a breath, connect with your mother's memory, and make your way through these five steps.
1. Collect Stories and Memories
When you think about all the memories that you have of your mother, you might feel overwhelmed. How can you possibly capture everything she was and everything she taught you in one short speech?
Breathe and Remember
First, take a quiet moment. Acknowledge that you and your mother went through a lot together. It really isn't possible to say everything you want to say in a short speech, and you will eventually have to choose just a few memories to share.
You don't have to do that yet, though. Right now, all you have to do is write down all the memories that pour into your head. Memories of time you spent together, stories that she told about her life before motherhood ... anything at all. Just write whatever comes to mind.
This might be a healing or a cathartic process. Let it be what it is; don't judge or censor yourself.
Talk to Others
Your mother touched many lives, so take some time and talk to people that were close to her. If you have siblings that won't be speaking at the funeral, ask them if they have any memories they want to share. If her spouse or your grandparents are living and in touch with you, ask them if there are any stories that they would like you to tell.
2. Remember Her Lessons and Her Legacy
Now that you have plenty of stories and memories, both from yourself and from others, think about what your mother would want you to say. One of a mother's most important roles is that of a teacher and guide. What did she teach you? If you have siblings, how did she guide them? What values did she instill in her family and friends?
Remember to connect every story back to who your mother was as a person. Stick with the personal—that's what will give comfort to your audience.
Here, too, stories help your listeners connect to your mother's memory. When you remember a piece of advice that your mother gave you time and time again, can you see her face and hear her voice? Think of one particularly memorable time when her advice helped you. Where were you? What were you struggling with, and how did she help?
Your Mother and the World
Consider mentioning accomplishments that were particularly meaningful. Did your mother impact the community in any way? Did she achieve something important professionally?
Focus On the Personal
Remember to connect each story back to who your mother was as a person. If her work was driven by her values and beliefs, emphasize that. Stick with the personal, since that is what will give comfort to your audience.
3. Organize Your Ideas
At this point, you probably have a lot of thoughts jumbled up in no particular order. You might want to take a break before the next part, because the tough bit is coming up.
Choose Your Stories
It's now time to choose which stories and thoughts to include in your mother's eulogy. You want the whole speech to be no more than 15 minutes long, so you probably won't be able to include everything.
This is your chance to leave your audience with some beautiful memories of your mother. If it hurts to leave things out, remember that choosing the right stories will bring joy and solace to those who gather.
Decide On a Theme
A good way to narrow things down is to choose a theme. Start by looking over your stories and see if you can identify any common threads. Some you might find are:
- Overcoming adversity
- The importance of family
- Memories with relatives or friends
- What she valued most
- What makes people think of her
There is no “right” theme. It all depends on who your mother was and how you want people to remember her.
Select Tone and Style
The proper style and feel for a eulogy depend entirely on who the person was and what his or her family wants. If your mother was a deeply spiritual person, you might want to work that into the eulogy. If she liked to tease and joke around, you can sprinkle in a bit of humor. In fact, funeral attendees often appreciate a few lighter moments.
Think About the Big Picture
You may also want to have a conversation with any other people who are hosting the funeral with you, whether that means other family members, religious leaders, funeral home directors, or a combination thereof. Figure out what the tone of the event will be and what else will be said. You will probably feel more comfortable if the tone of your eulogy matches the event.
Outline Your Thoughts
Once you have your stories chosen, take some time to put them in order. Think about which story should be your first and which is good as a closer.
Don't stress too much about this part. You can switch things around as much as you want later. The goal is just to establish the flow of the piece while giving you a structure to work within. When you know how you plan to start and where you're going with the eulogy, it will feel a lot less daunting.
4. Compose the Eulogy
Once you've chosen your ideas, your tone, and your structure, it's time to write. Your instinct might be to start at the beginning, but the middle tends to be an easier jumping-off point.
Start With the Stories
Your stories and memories are the most important part of your mother's eulogy, and they're probably the parts you know best, so start there. This will be the body of your eulogy.
Write out each story and add a smooth transition into the next one. You'll want it to sound good when you read it out loud.
You may decide not to read out your eulogy word for word, but it will flow better if you write it out completely. Use a readable font and double-space the document, so that you can easily look up from the page and then back to see what comes next.
Write the Introduction
Once you've written the body of the eulogy, the introduction will come to you much more easily. Because there will probably be at least a few people there who won't know you, you'll want to introduce yourself as the son or daughter of the deceased.
Thank everyone for coming, in whatever way you feel is appropriate, and briefly touch on the theme of your eulogy. This can be as simple as “My mother taught me many things, but the one that meant the most was the importance of family.”
Develop a Conclusion
The end of your mother's eulogy will probably be an emotional part to write. It will have a feeling of “goodbye,” but it should also communicate gratitude and love. You can express these feelings in any way that you feel comfortable with. Popular endings include:
- One of your mother's favorite quotes
- A meaningful song lyric
- A brief poem
- A line or two of religious text
You can also choose something as simple as “Goodbye, Mom, and thank you. I will always love you, and you will always be missed.” The important thing is that the message is heartfelt.
5. Review, Revise, and Practice
Once you've finished the eulogy, read it over from beginning to end. Does it make sense? Is there anything extraneous you should remove, or conversely, anything you'd like to add? You may also want to have someone else read it, your connection to the material being as intimate as it is. It can help to get a fresh pair of eyes.
Read It Out Loud
Writing a eulogy for your mother is an emotional experience. Reading it aloud is usually even more so. Reading it in front of your family and friends will add an extra layer of intensity, so you'll want to have rehearsed a few times beforehand.
Coping with Emotion
Many readers find that they can stay composed more easily when they have rehearsed a few times, but it's important to be aware that you might still become tearful when the time comes to speak about your mother.
It's perfectly normal and okay to cry a bit while reading the eulogy. If you need a moment to compose yourself, take it. No one will mind. You can also have a backup reader in place in case you reach a point where you are unable to continue.
A Few Examples
Your mother was unique, and of course her eulogy will be unique as well. Still, it can help to read a few examples and see what other people have done.
An Example of a Eulogy for a Mother
The following eulogy focuses on the mother's kindness and skill in helping people through difficult times. It's centered around a single personal story, but touches on how she supported the many lives that she touched.
My Mother, My Guide
Good morning, everyone. My name is Robin, and Mary was my mother. I was lucky enough to have her in my life for 88 years, and I'm grateful for every one of them. She guided me and my sisters through life with compassion, wisdom, and generosity, because those things were what encapsulated who she was.
Whenever any of us kids had a problem, we always went to Mom. She'd give us a hug, and then the first thing she'd say would be some kind of expression of empathy. “Fighting with a friend is hard, isn't it?” or “I know you really wanted to make the team, it's okay to be sad.”
I can see that some of you know what I mean. I expect you're my mother's therapy clients.
For those of you who didn't know her professionally, my mother was an excellent therapist. Accepting, generous, compassionate ... but we'll get to that later.
We didn't always love it when my mom used her “therapist voice” on us, but we had to admit that she handled things well. One standout moment happened when I was in seventh grade.
Mom, What Should I Do?
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I was a quirky kid. I was pretty happy-go-lucky in elementary school, this cute little nerd with big books and a loud voice, but then middle school came along. All of a sudden it really started to matter what other kids thought. And they didn't think very much of me.
One day, I heard some kids talking about a bar mitzvah. The kid who was having it had been my friend, or so I thought, since second grade. But I hadn't gotten an invitation.
I didn't know what to do. Should I ask why I wasn't invited or just ignore it? So of course, I asked my mom.
The Words That Work
My mom told me to go back to this kid and say, “I heard you're being bar mitzvahed. Congratulations. That's a big deal.” That way, she said, I could keep my pride and still find out what was going on.
Long story short, he turned red and said that his mother would only let him invite a certain number of people. My mother had given me a script for that moment too. “I hope you have fun," I said. I smiled at him, and then I went to cry in the bathroom. And that night, I cried on my mother's shoulder.
Building Me Up
For my mother, though, that wasn't the end of the story. She wanted me to know that I was good company, had a lot to offer, and was loved. So she signed me up for a robotics club. Three weeks in, she told me to invite some of my robotics friends to go out to lunch with us. We had an amazing time. And as I sat there eating pizza, I realized that it was the day of the bar mitzvah.
My mother had managed to teach me that I was a worthwhile person, just as I am, and that I would find my “tribe” because of who I was.
A Practice of Love and Support
My mother was really good at teaching that kind of subtle lesson. When my sister got placed in the low reading group, my mother signed her up for gymnastics, and her coordination and strength ended up almost taking her to the Olympics.
My mom did the same thing with her clients. One person recently told me that she went from thinking she belonged in an abusive relationship to walking away because she knew she deserved better. She said she didn't know how my mother did it, but she did.
I've heard a lot of stories like that.
What Would Mom Do?
I know I'll always wish I could ask Mom what to do in a difficult moment. But I also know that thanks to years of watching Mom and following her advice, I know how to think about a problem carefully, consider how it will affect me, others, and the world around me, and choose the most loving course of action.
I love you, Mom. And I'll try my best to carry your love into the world. All my days.
An Example of a Eulogy for a Mother from Her Daughter
This eulogy for an award-winning scientist focuses on her belief in working for what you want. There is less sentiment and more pride, and that's okay. It's right for this particular mother.
You Only Live Once
Family and friends, thank you for coming here today to remember my mother. I'm her daughter, Liza, and I'll do my very best to encapsulate her amazing life in just a few short minutes.
My mother didn't make it to her 70th birthday, but I think I have more memories than if she had made it to 100. See, my mom believed that we only have one chance to make our lives count, and boy did she ever. It would take me days to tell you all of the incredible things that she did, but they tell me I can't speak for that long. So, I'll just give you the highlights.
Traveling the World
Many of you know that my mother was a big traveler. Most of the stories she has about her life before marriage and kids have something to do with traveling, from hikes along the Appalachian Trail to homestays in Thailand. I loved hearing her stories, but I really loved when she took us with her.
What I Did On My Summer Vacation
The summer before I started eighth grade, we were supposed to go to London. We were going to see the Tower, Westminster Abbey ... we had it all planned out. Then my dad lost his job, and we couldn't afford to go on just my mother's salary. So, thanks to my mom, we had the staycation to end all staycations.
We went on day hiking trips where we searched for swimming holes, and we reviewed each one in a special trip notebook that my mother made. I'll tell you where the best one is if you really want to know. We found a place that would let you rent horses for trail rides, and we went to a bunch of cultural festivals. By the end of the summer, I felt like I had lived through six vacations.
And we did make it to London. For my sixteenth birthday. Because my mother does not give up.
Pursuing Her Dream
Persistence was a huge component of my mother's commitment to making the most of life. Most of you know that she was a biochemist, but only a few of you are aware that she almost failed algebra in her freshman year of high school.
My mom was not a natural mathematician, and she wouldn't be upset with me for telling you that. In fact, she was proud of it. She told all of her kids about the hours that she stayed after school for tutoring, and the soccer club that she gave up so that she could pass sophomore chemistry. She told us how that sacrifice got her into her first choice undergrad program, where she turned down two spring break trips to get the grades that would help her to land her dream internship.
As her only daughter, I got this message more than my brothers did. With me, she emphasized that she was often the only girl in her math and science classes. She signed me up for all kinds of STEM programs. I wasn't always thrilled about that, mostly because all of my friends were in Girl Scouts or field hockey. I even told myself I hated it for a while. I told her, too, but she knew it wasn't true. I was actually pretty good at engineering.
When I was a junior in high school, my mother won a research award. It was the first of three. My guidance counselor at the time was trying to get me to major in education because I had done well as a peer tutor. But my mom read me her award speech, which emphasized that she had succeeded in her field because she wanted it. I applied to school for pre-med, and now I'm a pediatrician.
Guiding with Love
My mother believed in us, and she encouraged us to be the best we could be, but she was no tiger mother. If we got a disappointing grade, she'd ask us if we had worked as hard as we could, and then she'd ask what else we needed to succeed. Then she'd take us out for a walk or for ice cream because she wanted us to know that we were loved unconditionally.
My mother might not be walking on this earth anymore, but I know she's behind me with every step I take. And she's behind my brothers, too, and her grandchildren. And all of her nieces, nephews, and friends. We all love you, Mom, and we know we'll make you proud. No matter what we do.
An Example of a Eulogy for Mother from Her Son
This eulogy tells the story of a mother who taught and modeled kindness above all else. It includes a personal story from her son as well as stories from her elementary school students, touching on two of the most significant parts of her life.
First, Be Kind
Hello, everyone. I'm Thomas, and I'm Helen's son. On behalf of my brother, my dad, and myself, I'd like to thank you for coming out to pay your respects to my mother. We all miss her a lot already, but her legacy lives on in the gentlemen that she raised and the people that she taught.
My mother always said that the way she planned to make the world a better place was to raise men who knew how to treat others. She was proud when we did well in school and she cheered for every goal we made in a soccer game, but she was happiest when we showed kindness to another person.
The How and Why of Helping
Like all the other boys in our neighborhood, we did sports and Cub Scouts. But we also volunteered. Every Saturday, starting when I was in preschool, my parents would take me and my brother to the local food bank to sort cans. It wasn't always our favorite part of the week, but we always did it. And on the way home, my mother would tell us stories about an imaginary family who might be sitting down to eat the canned corn that we sorted that morning.
Might For Right
As we got bigger, my mother always insisted that we use our strength to stand up for others. I remember being in second grade and watching a classmate push a kindergartener out of the line for the slide. So I walked right up to him and told him to pick on someone his own size. So, he pushed me out of line.
That night, I told my mom about the incident. She said she was proud of me for doing the right thing, and she also reminded me that I could get adult help if someone was getting hurt. I said I didn't want to be a tattletale, so she helped me write an anonymous email to the principal. The kid didn't push anyone again.
My mother did this kind of thing as a teacher, too. She mostly taught third grade, with a few years in second and fourth. By the time she retired, she'd been in the classroom for 45 years.
I can't tell you how many emails I've gotten in the past week from her former students. One was in my mom's class 40 years ago and still remembered her Kindness Jar. She remembered that the class filled the jar with marbles and got an ice cream party because they were so good to each other. Her son was in my mom's class 10 years ago. The mom knew that it was the same teacher when her son mentioned the jar.
One man emailed me to tell me that he'd just been accepted to law school. He came into my mother's class as an angry little kid who hated school, because his teachers had told him he was either too lazy or not smart enough to do well. His parents, sadly, had believed them. My mother worked with him and found out that he had dyslexia. She sent emails and made phone calls and eventually helped to get him supportive services.
A Legacy of Caring
Every day of my mother's life, she did something for other people. Sometimes it was tiny, like fetching broccoli for an older woman in the grocery store. Other times, it was a little bit bigger, like taking a half hour of her day to drive a woman with a baby carriage to the doctor because they'd gotten out of the cab in the wrong part of town.
Both true stories.
Without her, the world is undoubtedly a darker place. But I know what she'd say to us right now. She'd say that it's up to us to show the kindness that she showed. We just have to remember her favorite quote, a line by the fable writer Aesop. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Mom, you were living proof of that fact. Thank you, from all of us, for everything.
Some Help With the Writing
It's okay to want some help composing the eulogy. It doesn't mean that you don't know your mother well or that you love her any less. Quite the opposite. It means that you want her to have the best farewell possible. You are being her advocate, just as she was yours.
Hire A Professional
Compose.ly's speech writing services will match you with a professional writer who can work with you to compose the eulogy that your mother deserves. Using your stories and according to your wishes, the writer will present you with something that tells the audience who your mother was, how she will be remembered, and the legacy she will leave behind.
Go ahead and get the process started. Your mother deserves the best.
This post was written by Compose.ly writer Laura DeCesare.