Traditionally referred to as ‘eulogies’, these are personalised tributes often delivered by someone close to the person who has passed away. They can contain anecdotes about events that happened in their life, personality traits that have been admired or particular lifetime achievements.
Writing them is not always easy and it can be quite a stressful occasion for the person delivering the tribute at the funeral so we have devised a list of hints and tips below that you may find useful.
Hints and Tips
- Firstly it is important to realise that speaking at a Funeral, particularly if you were close to the person who has passed away, can be stressful. Whilst your heart may be willing your head may prevent you from fulfilling this – such strong feelings can be difficult to overcome particularly in a public setting. Always have a back-up plan so that whatever you would like to be said can be delivered by someone else – perhaps the Minister or Celebrant
- Consider how long you are going to speak for. Ceremonies are often spaced at half hourly (sometimes three quarter hourly) intervals. If you speak for 10 minutes during a half hour ceremony you are taking one third of the available time
- Is what you are intending to say appropriate for the funeral ceremony or would it be better in a more relaxed atmosphere after the funeral at say a venue where the celebration of that person’s life may follow a more informal agenda
- Whatever you say you should aim to bring comfort, encouragement and solace; a great maxim is “is it kind, is it true, is it necessary” is always welcome advice
- It’s a good idea to begin by jotting down some thoughts. Consider major, minor, happy, sad, what they meant to you and what others meant to him or her
- What were the major events which shaped that person’s life? What were their greatest achievements? What values, talents, loves and dislikes did they have?
- What about the seemingly tiny things? Often these things paint the brightest pictures of all
- What made the person happiest? What caused them to smile either at themselves or at others?
- Life does throw some curve balls at each of us. They shape our character, cause us to react or respond and we learn from them too? What can you bring to mind that will add a positive dimension to this?
- What does the individual mean to you? Why are you choosing to speak today? How has your life been enriched by having known them?
- What do you think that individual meant to others; as a husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, colleague or friend? How may they miss them?
- Do you need to do more research and speak to others? Getting facts right can be important
- You can now start to create a broader script. You can write it word for word if that helps. Others will just make “bullet points” but you do need to be quite disciplined and conscious of the time as this can run away very quickly. You may wish to construct it chronologically, or prefer to focus on the time which was most important to you; as long as it’s clear it doesn’t really matter
- You can choose where to start! Often it just helps to get something on paper and that may be the middle or the end! Try to avoid clichés – people know why you are there and an introduction may be unnecessary
- Think also about how you will conclude. Often this may be by reflecting. It may be by saying that “we will all miss Bill tremendously for his smile, his laughter and his abundant love of life and those around him!”
- Read aloud in a practice session what you’ve written and ensure it fits with the timing arrangements agreed
- The adage “quality not quantity” is a good one
- When you are speaking make sure that whoever is leading the ceremony knows that you are going to do this
- Try to sit in a location which allows for easy access without disturbing other mourners.
- Be clear about where you’re going to stand throughout and the availability of a
- Ensure you have a copy of your speech to hand
- If possible stand up to speak and try to remain focused on what you are doing
- Be calm! Easier said than done perhaps!
- Speak slowly – it gives you time to gather your thoughts and to deliver well
- If you are overcome with emotion don’t worry; just take a couple of deep breaths and try to carry on. Most people would understand and are likely to be supportive
- If you would like us to help with the preparation or delivery of a eulogy then do please ask – we’d be delighted to help if we can