Writing and delivering a eulogy or remembrance speech can be a frightening and overwhelming task.
It can be emotional and painful to talk about a loved one who passed and to summarize his or her life. In addition – speaking in public is a common fear.
Giving a eulogy can come with challenges, so as you prepare know that these challenges may arise which are perfectly normal. There may be times of panic, silence, laughter, or moments of deep sadness when the speaker or those in attendance become emotional.
But if you can find the strength to embrace it, you will see the eulogy as a great way to tell your story and express yourself with so many others who came to show respect and honor the life of the departed.
While eulogies are personal and each one has a unique tone, there are a few things to consider as you start writing your speech – here are some funeral etiquette tips to help you write and give a funeral eulogy:
- Be Organized
One of the first things to do when you decide you are going to give a eulogy is to take time to organize your thoughts about the speech. A eulogy should have a beginning, middle, and end.
The beginning can have a short overview that captures the deceased’s spirit or personality, such as a loving wife, a family man, an accomplished writer, a devout person, etc.
The middle can consist of several paragraphs in which you can tell a story or two about the deceased’s life to illuminate his or her spirit.
Create a good ending to your eulogy by reiterating the key points about your loved one’s life, summarizing who they were as a person, and emphasizing what they meant to others.
A eulogy may contain a quote or poem relating to the deceased, which you can add to the beginning or ending of your speech. Your ending can be a heartfelt good bye to the deceased, such as “You will forever be deeply missed”, or a simple “Rest in peace”.
- Write It Down
Professional speakers use a written copy of their speeches, and so should you. You should not feel like you must memorize your eulogy.
It can be a printed copy on a podium, or just an outline on index cards in your pocket, the point is for it to be easy to read and follow.
You may also want to bring a handkerchief or tissue with you, in case you become emotional. Also, a small bottle of water to keep your throat from becoming dry can be beneficial.
- Keep It Brief
The longer you speak, the more opportunity there will be for rambling, and awkward or uncomfortable moments. It is a good idea to ask your funeral director, how much time you will have during the service, but in general delivering your eulogy in 3- 5 minutes, 10 at the longest, is a good rule of thumb.
- Keep It Real and Meaningful
Rather than listing long, dry facts; offer a meaningful insight into the deceased’s life and personality to provide your listeners with memorable stories that they can cherish.
Share a story about something the deceased enjoyed, especially if you were a part of it, such as a sport or hobby related events. A story can illustrate his or her passion, enthusiasm, commitment, etc., and provide a real life example that people can picture and enjoy learning about. You can ask family and friends to help you gather favorite memories, then select a story or two that captures or illustrates the deceased’s spirit.
- Keep It Positive
Generally, we should not struggle with finding enough positive things to say about the deceased, and the eulogy should be delivered as if he or she was in the audience.
Negative feelings or disputes should not be shared during the eulogy. However, if the departed was a difficult person or led a troubled life, make sure what you share is delivered with kindness, compassion and truthfulness.
Remember, focusing on the positive is always a much more enlightened path.
In keeping with the positive, it is okay to include tasteful humor, especially if the deceased used humor in his or her own life.
- Be Effective
To ensure you are being effective, and to make it more interesting for those in attendance, speak in a conversational tone, as if you were simply talking to a family member or your closest friend.
This is another reason why sharing a story or other firsthand insights is important for a good eulogy – it will make it easier for you to be conversational and interesting during your speech.
Also, try to look at your listeners occasionally and make eye contact. This will help your speech feel more like a conversation, as well as prevent you from rushing and delivering in a monotone voice. Of course, if you feel you cannot look at others without growing emotional, do keep your focus on your written notes.
Before you begin delivering your eulogy, take a deep breath and slowly release it.
- Own It
You should practice your eulogy as many times as needed to make sure it is not too long or too short and to become familiar with it. A good eulogy comes out sounding as natural as possible, and to achieve that you want to be comfortable with your speech, and own it.
Practice delivering your eulogy in front of a mirror, a family member, or someone close to you. Some people like to record it into their voicemail or other devices and play it back to see how it sounds. Whatever method works for you, make sure you practice until it comes as close to a natural conversation as possible.
- Be Authentic
Instead of trying to be perfect and sound impeccable, focus on being yourself. What matters is expressing your relationship with the deceased, what it meant to you, and what you want to honor and remember about him or her through your eulogy.
Instead of delivering a formal public speech, talk to those in front of you as if you would talk to your friends, authentically and from your heart.
We hope these tips will help you write and deliver a touching and meaningful eulogy for the loved one you lost.
At DeBord Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory, we are deeply committed to helping you through the difficult times and providing compassionate care before, during and after the funeral.
For more information about how DeBord Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory can assist you with any funeral needs, we invite you to contact us today: