Preparing and Delivering a Eulogy

 

A eulogy is a well-crafted speech intended to commemorate a loved one who has died.  Someone who was close to the deceased and knows them well usually presents it at a memorial service or funeral.

 

It is a great honour to be invited to deliver a eulogy for a friend or relative.   It shows a great deal of trust and respect the family has for the one who is chosen.  As a result, it is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly and should be prepared with a great deal of care.

 

There are three factors that I think should be taken into consideration when preparing and delivering a eulogy.  They are:

speak with integrity

speak with dignity

know your time limitations

The following are some guidelines that I hope will prove helpful.

 

1.  Since this is a great responsibility that has been given you, it is important that you put yourself to the task of preparing an appropriate tribute.   This is not the time to speak off the cuff!

 

2.You will find it helpful to spend time with the immediate family to get some of their memories of the one who has died.  Remember that people are often placed on a pedestal in the first few hours and days following the death!  Make sure the information you are getting from the family is accurate.   Filter out things that you think don’t necessarily reflect the true character of the one who died.  Speak about what you know, from your own experience, to be true.

 

3.  It may be helpful to gather some basic information about the one who died: when and where he/she was born, a brief summary of his/her life’s work, refer to any hobbies he or she had, summarize any special accomplishments.  If appropriate you may be able to comment on one or two outstanding personal characteristics of the person.

 

4.   Get organized!  I recommend that you type what you are going to say and stick with what you have typed.  If you get off track, you will run into trouble and get lost.   Write the way you talk, don’t try to make this an essay or try to use words that you wouldn’t use in your every day conversation.

 

5.   Ideally your eulogy should be 5 minutes!   This will mean writing a first draft and then re-writing it.

 

6.  Practice reading the eulogy several times to become familiar with it.  You don’t have to memorize it unless you want to and are very confident you can do it bymemory.  But beingfamiliar with it, means you will be able to look at your audience several times without being tied to your notes. 

 

7. Finalize your copy.  I recommend you print it out in large font so it’s

 easy to refer to.   Also, number your pages so they don’t get mixed up!

 

8.  Deliver your eulogy.  Make sure there is a glass of water handy!  If you are prepared and have your notes well laid out, you have nothing to fear, other than your own nervousness!   Remember you are doing this to honour the memory of a love one.

 

  When you get up to speak.  Take a minute, look out over the audience and the

  family especially, take a deep breath and begin.  If you get emotionally

  involved, stop, take a breath, and start again once you have composed  yourself.

 

Remember, if you wrote from the heart, you can deliver from the heart.

 

You will never be sorry you did this!

 

Pitfalls to avoid

 

Avoid the temptation to put the deceased on a pedestal. 

 

Avoid being too personal.  If you make comments like, “He was my best friend and life will never be the same.”  You will almost certainly become emotionally upset.   Try to remainobjective.

 

Avoid telling stories that only a few people in attendance will relate to or get the point of.  If people don’t  “get” what you are talking about, you will lose them.

 

Avoid the temptation to take more time than you should.   This is especially true if there is more than one person paying tribute.   Remember it is a stressful time for everyone there and they can only take so much!

 Taken from and written by John Kennedy Saynor - Genesis Bereavement Resources - Warkworth ON