Being tasked with delivering the eulogy at a funeral can be a daunting yet privileged job and will often leave people wondering where to start. Writing a eulogy is one of the best ways to give a fitting tribute to someone who meant a lot to you and can also be very therapeutic in helping you through the grieving process.
There is often so much that we want to say that the thought of being able to fit it into a short amount of time can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be – take away extra stress at an already painful time and use our guidelines when writing your funeral speech.
While you might be tempted to stand up and speak from the heart without any prior preparation, it is recommended that you write it down before. This will give your eulogy a definite pattern and less chance of it turning into a ramble.
Without the safety of form and preparation you may lose your train of thought and become emotionally distressed. Taking the time to write your speech will allow you to express your thoughts and feelings in the way you want to.
The general length of eulogy is around 5-10 minutes, but this can change subject to the service.
This might seem like a short amount of time to fit your loved one’s entire life into, but planning ahead means you should be able to fit some wonderful anecdotes and personal memories into your speech. It could be helpful to the funeral guests to briefly introduce yourself and explain where you fitted into the deceased’s life. This will give them a bit of context when you’re sharing memories and stories.
You should include some information about your loved one – their personality traits, favourite hobbies and achievements. Hearing all of the positives will give guests a lovely reminder of the deceased as they were when they were living. As you are giving the speech, it’s also appropriate to share some of your favourite memories of your loved one or any stories about them that you particularly love.
Remember to speak to family and friends before – you are honouring the deceased on their behalf and you’ll be surprised at the range of stories you will find. You could finish your speech with a conclusion about how you want the person to be remembered, and how they’d like to be remembered too. You could also quote a poem or reading – anything that gives people a sense of who they were and what they meant to you.
Giving a speech to a room full of people can be a nerve-wracking task for a lot of people, but even more so in such difficult circumstances.
Ensure you practice a few times before the service, just to familiarise yourself with the words. In pressured situations it can be so easy to lose your thoughts, but if you’re familiar with the speech then you should be able to find your way again.
Keep your notes in front of you for a safety blanket. Make sure the font is large enough to read and use a stand for them if available. This will take the pressure off having to hold your notes and will ensure you can organise them properly.
Some speakers prefer to take another person up to the front with them. This is a way to share the eulogy and the presence of a supporter will give you to strength to talk personally. If you feel yourself welling up or getting emotional during your speech, stop, take a few breaths to compose yourself and spend as much time as you need to prepare yourself to speak again. Remember that everyone at the service understands and will be admiring your bravery.
It sounds like such a small thing, but do take a glass of water to the front with you. A sip of water and a few deep breaths can do the world of good before speaking in public.
Try not to let it worry you too much. It’s a huge privilege and one that wouldn’t have been handed to you if you weren’t up to the task. It shows not only trust and respect, but also honours the importance you had in your loved one’s life. Keep your notes in front of you, deliver it from the heart and you can’t go wrong.