Fosters’ guide on how to write the perfect eulogy
In this article we cover how to write the perfect eulogy. Let’s start by acknowledging that speaking in front of a crowd isn’t easy for most people and that it can be even more daunting at a funeral. A combination of nerves and expectation, coupled with the emotion of the day, can become quite overwhelming, even for the most confident of speakers.
In truth though, delivering a eulogy isn’t anywhere near as intimidating a prospect as it may appear. With the right preparation, anyone can plan and deliver the perfect eulogy.
What is a Eulogy?
A eulogy is a speech delivered at a funeral. It allows people to remember the important parts of someone’s life and draws attention to perhaps the lesser-known aspects that made that person who they were. It’s a final goodbye, but it’s also a tribute too.
When you sit down to write the perfect eulogy it’s absolutely essential to be in the right frame of mind. Staying positive makes it easier to translate your thoughts onto paper and ultimately, to an audience. This may be a difficult time in your life, but by focusing on the positive aspects of your loved ones character and life, you enable everyone there to remember them in the way they would have wanted.
Who were they?
Take the time to really think about their life, their passions and their experiences. Naturally, the basics need to be covered, such as when and where they were born, who their close family and loved ones were and whether they had any nicknames. But what made them special?
Don’t just rely on your own take on them either. Get together with family and friends and brainstorm some ideas. Everyone will have their own recollections, helping you to build a more complete picture, one that everyone in attendance will be able to relate to. It’s also a good time for family and friends to deal with their grief and support each other. Writing a eulogy is the last thing you want to do by yourself.
Consider your Audience
When writing a eulogy think about who will be listening to it. Depending on the circumstances of the deceased and therefore who is gathered to remember them, the tone and content of your eulogy should reflect who is listening. There’s a time for big belly laughs, a time for seriousness and a time for a combination of the two. Bear this in mind.
Remember the Good Times
Tell some stories! Peppering a eulogy with warm, happy anecdotes from your loved ones life is a must. By reminding everyone of the good times, the loving times or even the downright silly times, you remind everyone of the best of that person.
Tell the Truth, but not the Whole Truth!
It might feel like you are standing in the dock, but you aren’t, so don’t feel under any pressure to reveal all up there. A eulogy is a time for gentle remembrance, not for unburdening, setting records straight or dropping bombshells. Even if the deceased had elements of their character that might warrant further exploration, now is not the time. Be honest though, just not brutally honest.
Keep it brief – 10 minutes max
As much as you might want to get it over with, you could easily find yourself coming up with a eulogy that will need an intermission to get through it all. That’s only natural, as you have a lifetime to look back on, but it’s absolutely essential you keep it brief. The last thing you want is for people’s attention to drift, for their sake as much as yours. Some funeral venues allocate a specific period of time for a funeral. The funeral director should be able to advise you as part of the order of service, but ten minutes maximum is all you need and if you’re going over that, start editing.
Practise makes perfect
Practising reading the eulogy aloud helps you to get your timing spot on and feel more confident. You’re also less likely to stumble over your words. More importantly, it won’t be the first time you say what are sure to be some emotionally loaded words, so you will find it much easier to maintain your composure.
Keep eye contact
Look people in the eye and mix it up. Cast your gaze over the crowd. Hold and keep their attention, while making sure they feel that you are speaking to them, not your feet.
There are no strict rules on funeral wear these days. Black is generally still the first choice, with smart clothes being favoured over casual attire. That’s not hard and fast though, depending on the service and the deceased. What is less flexible is that if you are given the responsibility to deliver a eulogy, you can’t just wear anything that takes your fancy. Make the effort, as all eyes will be on you and you want them to be showing respect for the occasion.
End on a Comforting High
Three, four or five minutes after you began, you can think about finishing up. You should have reminded everyone in front of you of why you are all there, shared some nice memories and raised more than a few smiles in recollection. All that’s left is to bring things to a close with a final statement that sums it all up.
A funeral is always going to be a sad day, but with a bit of care and preparation, you and your eulogy will have made it slightly less so. Remember, the fact you have been asked to deliver such an important speech is a testament to the special relationship you had with the deceased. It can’t fail to be emotional, but in being given the opportunity to deliver the eulogy, you have a unique opportunity to say goodbye in the best possible way.
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