July 18, 2023
12 min read
Eulogies are pretty versatile. Some of the best eulogies ever written are emotional, brief, drawn-out, descriptive, respectful, or even humorous. It completely depends on the person giving the eulogy and the person the eulogy is for.
But there’s one thing they have in common — they exist to praise and remember someone who’s no longer living.
We’ll introduce you to some of the best eulogies ever written (and how AI can help you analyze them).
Artificial intelligence is as accessible as ever and the ways in which it can be used are endless. For example, you can analyze the best eulogies ever written and pinpoint exactly why they’re considered the best of the best using AI. A tool like Yoodli can show you the data and metrics associated with the best eulogies.
Yoodli is a virtual speech coach that uses generative AI to analyze a person’s speech and speaking habits. It evaluates not only the content of what’s being said but also the delivery. As such, users get personalized insights on things like:
You can see these same valuable insights by uploading some of the best eulogies ever written to Yoodli.
Learn more about how to use Yoodli to improve your own public speaking in our explainer video:
There are many factors that can make a eulogy stand out, whether it’s the speech’s content or the speaker’s delivery. Regardless, eulogies are some of the most powerful types of speech out there.
Here are the seven best eulogies ever written that honor and remember famous, influential people for who they were and what they stood for.
Writer and activist Coretta Scott King played a central role in the civil rights movement and ultimately helped change history surrounding the rights of Black Americans. She was known for uplifting and supporting those around her, including her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Her death on Jan. 30, 2006 led to an emotive 8-hour funeral in Lithonia, Georgia. Numerous presidents — including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and both George H. W. and George W Bush — attended her funeral. Future president Barack Obama was also in attendance.
Famed writer and poet Maya Angelou wrote a beautiful, moving eulogy for King that stands out as one of the seven best eulogies ever written. In it, she breathes new life into the person King was, and illuminates her persona expertly.
"Her passion was never spent in public display. She offered her industry and her energies to action, toward righting ancient and current wrongs in this world.
She believed religiously in nonviolent protest.
She believed it could heal a nation mired in a history of slavery and all its excesses.
She believed non-violent protest religiously could lift up a nation rife with prejudices and racial bias.
She was a quintessential African-American woman, born in the small-town repressive South, born of flesh and destined to become iron, born — born a cornflower and destined to become a steel-magnolia."
Angelou’s poignant eulogy is a shining example of what a eulogy should be: an emotive goodbye to someone who was loved, cherished, and will continue to be celebrated for decades to come.
The name Rosa Parks brings many connotations to mind: courage, defiance, valor, and equality, to name a few. Her life was incredibly monumental and her commitment to the fight for civil rights had lasting effects, particularly for the United States.
Though Parks died on Oct. 24, 2005, her continuous activism earned her the titles “the mother of the freedom movement” and “the first lady of civil rights.”
Oprah Winfrey, the famous talk show host and television producer, gave a thoughtful eulogy for Parks.
"I’m here today to say a final thank you, Sister Rosa, for being a great woman who used your life to serve, to serve us all. That day that you refused to give up your seat on the bus, you, Sister Rosa, changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of so many other people in the world. I would not be standing here today nor standing where I stand every day had she not chosen to sit down. I know that. I know that. I know that. I know that, and I honor that. Had she not chosen to say we shall not — we shall not be moved.
So I thank you again, Sister Rosa, for not only confronting the one white man who[se] seat you took, not only confronting the bus driver, not only for confronting the law, but for confronting history, a history that for 400 years said that you were not even worthy of a glance, certainly no consideration. I thank you for not moving."
Because Winfrey has extensive experience with public speaking, her eulogy’s delivery was strong, emotional, and even motivational. In it, she discusses Parks’ role on her own life, from her childhood to her adulthood.
Parks was an inspiration for Winfrey, and this is evident in her eulogy. She spoke on Parks’ lasting legacy — including her tireless activism and dedicated work toward equality — and how her work motivated not only Winfrey, but the entire world watching.
Steve Irwin’s death shocked the world. The famed Australian “Crocodile Hunter” died on Sept. 4, 2006, after a stingray barb punctured his chest.
Steve was a famous environmentalist, conservationist, and zookeeper, and made such a lasting impact on the natural world that he even had a species of snail named after him: the Crikey steveirwini.
His funeral service took place that same month and his 8-year-old daughter, Bindi, delivered the eulogy. In fact, she asked her mother if she could give the eulogy, despite the fact that she’d have a global audience of 300 million TV viewers.
Her eulogy was both inspirational and heart-breaking all at the same time. Bindi recalled memories of spending time with father and mentioned a growing passion for continuing her father’s impressive work.
"We filmed together, caught crocodiles together and loved being in the bush together. I don’t want Daddy’s passion to ever end. I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did.
I have the best Daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day. When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and I know that Daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals. Daddy made this place his whole life and now it’s our turn to help Daddy."
Bindi is definitely the youngest on our list of the seven best eulogies ever written and yet she delivered one of the most powerful speeches during an extremely difficult, distressing time.
British actor and comedian Graham Chapman was someone who knew how to make people laugh. And he did it often, especially as a member of the comedy group Monty Python. In fact, most people recognize him from his roles in the films “Life of Brian” and “Holy Grail.”
After he died on Oct. 4, 1989, Chapman’s good friend John Cleese delivered the most humorous eulogy on the list — perhaps the most humorous ever.
Though humor is often avoided in eulogies, Cleese stepped into his role as a comedian and gave a eulogy he thought Chapman would’ve enjoyed.
He shared memories full of shock humor and celebrated Chapman’s successes, especially those relating to his work as a comedian.
"But bolder and less inhibited spirits than me follow today. Jones and Idle, Gilliam and Palin. Heaven knows what the next hour will bring in Graham’s name. Trousers dropping, blasphemers on pogo sticks, spectacular displays of high-speed farting, synchronized incest. One of the four is planning to stuff a dead ocelot and a 1922 Remington typewriter up his own arse to the sound of the second movement of Elgar’s cello concerto. And that’s in the first half.
Because you see, Gray would have wanted it this way. Really. Anything for him but mindless good taste. And that’s what I’ll always remember about him — apart, of course, from his Olympian extravagance. He was the prince of bad taste. He loved to shock. In fact, Gray, more than anyone I knew, embodied and symbolized all that was most offensive and juvenile in Monty Python. And his delight in shocking people led him on to greater and greater feats. I like to think of him as the pioneering beacon that beat the path along which fainter spirits could follow."
By the end of his eulogy, Cleese became the first-ever person to say “fuck” during a televised British memorial service — an achievement that no doubt would’ve amused Chapman to no end.
You can watch Cleese’s eulogy below.
Steve Jobs, the inventor and co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Apple, died on Oct. 5, 2011. His sister, Mona Simpson, gave a heartfelt eulogy at Jobs’ funeral.
Simpson — who was actually Jobs’ long-lost sister — wrote a eulogy which was read during the service. In it, she recalls the first time she met him, his impressive work ethic, his loyalty, and his philosophy.
She paints Jobs not as the renowned business magnate in his signature black turtleneck. Instead, Simpson presents her version of her brother: an intelligent but emotional, kind-hearted man who cherished his family.
"Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.
For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.
He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.
His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”
Steve always aspired to make beautiful later."
Despite the hurdles Jobs faced early in the industry, his dedication to his job led him to success.
Simpson’s eulogy for her brother is a beautiful retelling of the 27 years she knew Jobs. Although the majority of the world only recognizes Jobs as the co-founder of the world’s largest tech company, Simpson shows us a more human version of the same man.
This eulogy leverages Simpson’s many anecdotes to elucidate the kind of person Jobs was, making it one of the seven best eulogies ever written.
The death of Princess Diana of Wales was one that shook the entire world. That’s how influential she was.
Princess Diana died on Aug. 31, 1997, following a car accident. As the world was still reeling, Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, gave his eulogy for Diana. In it, Spencer described his sister — the people’s Princess — and her humanitarian, caring nature.
""Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality. Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.""
He also spoke of some of the hardships she faced, particularly at the hands of what he referred to as “the media.” Princess Diana was constantly hounded and harassed by paparazzi, and was indeed being chased by paparazzi moments before the car crash that ended her life.
Spencer even mentioned the irony of her name, as she was “given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting,” yet died as the “most hunted person of the modern age.”
His eulogy for Diana was simultaneously powerful and devastating — A somber funeral speech for one of the most loved figures in history.
Though Barack Obama has always been a strong, effective speaker, his eulogy for John Lewis was especially powerful.
Lewis died on July 17, 2020, leaving behind an impressive legacy. He was a civil rights activist and represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district.
Though his death was a somber occasion at a tumultuous time during the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, Obama expertly delivered this tribute to an American hero.
"The life of John Lewis was, in so many ways, exceptional. It vindicated the faith in our founding, redeemed that faith; that most American of ideas; that idea that any of us ordinary people without rank or wealth or title or fame can somehow point out the imperfections of this nation, and come together, and challenge the status quo, and decide that it is in our power to remake this country that we love until it more closely aligns with our highest ideals.
What a radical ideal. What a revolutionary notion. This idea that any of us, ordinary people, a young kid from Troy can stand up to the powers and principalities and say no this isn’t right, this isn’t true, this isn’t just. We can do better. On the battlefield of justice, Americans like John, Americans like the Reverends Lowery and C.T. Vivian, two other patriots that we lost this year, liberated all of us that many Americans came to take for granted.
America was built by people like them. America was built by John Lewises. He as much as anyone in our history brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideals. And someday, when we do finish that long journey toward freedom; when we do form a more perfect union — whether it’s years from now, or decades, or even if it takes another two centuries — John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America."
His words helped solidify Lewis’ legacy and place as a key player in American history, and is certainly a worthy pick for the seven best eulogies ever written.
Giving a eulogy can be an extremely daunting task. If you’ve written an eulogy and plan to deliver it aloud, an AI speech coach like Yoodli can help you practice and improve until you feel confident.
Unlike other speech coaches, Yoodli is completely free. Try it out today to start gaining more confidence when public speaking.
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