One of the most inspiring and memorable parts of a funeral is the eulogy or the funeral speech. Eulogy, a speech or a writing that praises a person who has passed away, comes from the Greek word eulogia, which means “blessing” or “praise.”
If you’re tasked to write and deliver a eulogy, it’s understandable if you’d feel nervous and anxious. After all, you’d want to make it as perfect as possible as it is meant to honor the deceased. The pressure to do well might be even more intense if you’re the type who’s afraid to talk in front of a crowd.
There are two ways to fulfill your task of successfully delivering a eulogy: prepare a well-written eulogy and practice delivering it. As for the anxiety, you just need to remind yourself that it’s not you in the spotlight, but the person who has died.
That means you don’t have to worry about failing—speech blunders or grammar mistakes aren’t really viewed as failures when delivering eulogies. Don’t be scared to show emotions, as it is perfectly natural to get emotional when talking about a loved one who has passed away.
Here are tips to help you craft a beautiful eulogy:
Prepare an outline before writing your eulogy. An outline typically includes an introduction, the main body, supporting details of the story, and a conclusion. Always start by introducing who you are and your relationship to the subject.
The theme will dictate the tone of your main body or story. A eulogy doesn’t always have to be emotional and heavy. It can be light-hearted or humorous as you recount funny memories with the departed, especially if the subject is known for his sense of humor. It can also be inspiring if you share stories of how the dead person has overcome particular challenges in life.
Decide if your story will be humorous, creative (such as reading a poem or singing a song about the person), religious (saying a prayer or putting your story in a spiritual context), inspiring, biographical or a combination of any of these themes.
What qualities do you like about the person who has passed away? Make a list of things that you admire about the person and beside each quality, narrate events and memories to support your description of the person. For example, if you say that the person was exceptionally kind and generous, specify events in his life where he or she had demonstrated these qualities. If he was a doctor, it could be the time when he gave free treatments to the homeless anonymously. If she was your sister, it could be an event where she supported you financially and emotionally without expecting anything but your own comfort and happiness in return.
This is a chance for everyone in the deceased’s life to get to know the person better and be inspired by the life he or she has lived. You may have special stories about the person that others may not know about and that can add value to your eulogy. Just remember to stick to the positive and leave out details that might be embarrassing for the deceased or his or her relatives.
The two reasons why you need to practice your funeral speech in front of a mirror is to make sure you’re comfortable with the words you wrote and that the length of your speech is just about five minutes. Set a timer and see how long it took you to read the entire eulogy.
Get rid of words that you tend to get mixed up or those that are hard to pronounce. Also, take out repetitive details of the story.
Review and edit your eulogy until you are satisfied with the outcome. There are free tools online that can help you refine and make your content better by getting rid of hard-to-read sentences or complex words, such as the Hemingway App.
While the eulogy is all about the person who has died, it brings comfort and inspiration to those he or she has left behind. Write your eulogy from the heart and you’ll never go wrong.