What to say at a funeral - the eulogy

If you have lost a loved one and would like to say a few words at the funeral ceremony or you have been asked to say a few words at a funeral of a relative, friend or work colleague, then this can be quite a daunting task.  Generally there is not a lot of time to prepare for this very important job as funerals usually take place quite shortly after the person has passed away. Saying a few words is most commonly known as a ‘eulogy’

Writing and giving a eulogy is a very important contribution to the ceremony.  It will be remembered by friends and family for a very long time, so feel honoured about your participation in this difficult event.  Try and keep a positive attitude.  Remember that everybody at the service will be behind you completely.  Do not be concerned about giving the perfect eulogy.  Do what you can.   This can be an emotionally challenging time for you.  Nobody expects you to have great stage presence, or be an amazing orator. Just be yourself, take your time and convey your feelings for the person who has passed. 

Before writing the eulogy, it is important to recognise that you may feel a little bit fearful.  There are lots of things to consider, i.e.  “Where do I even begin?”   “What do I say?”  “Will people like what I say?”  “How long should it be?” 

  • Where do I begin?

    Start to write down all the little memories of the person you are to talk about from your own experience of them. Make sure that the eulogy is in chronological order, starting with your earliest memories to the more recent ones.   Remember, you have chosen to speak of the person or have been asked to speak about the person because you knew them well.  What was your relationship to the person? Where did you meet?  How long did you known the person?  What were the times you shared with each other?  Did you work at the same place, go on holidays together, share hobbies or social activities? etc. 

  • What do I say?

    Speak from the heart and be honest.  The most touching eulogies convey your emotions and your feelings.  They are not a summary of the person’s life story.

    Try and make the piece a little light hearted to raise the spirits of the other mourners.  Make the memory of the person a good one, even adding in comical times, times when you laughed with the person, and share your good memories.  Where there any little anecdotes or sayings that the person used, that everyone will recognise? 

  • Will people like what I am saying? 

    You may have difficulty concentrating or maintaining your composure during the delivery of the eulogy.  THIS IS COMPLETELY NORMAL.  Also remember that the burden of the eulogy is not solely on you, there will be a minister taking the ceremony and they will also be reading out a tribute to the person

    Just remember to be honest and everyone will appreciate your words.  You are also doing what a lot of other people wouldn’t or couldn’t be able to do and so you are talking on their behalf.  Ask family and friends for some input and always make sure that you let the immediate family have a copy of what you are going to say in advance of the ceremony so that there are no surprises.

    Sometimes people can have a negative side to them and it is ok to touch upon this, but do it in a sensitive manner. If you try to hide someone’s true nature then your audience will not recognise who you are talking about and will therefore not empathise with you. 

  • How long should it be?

    There are sometimes restrictions on time, depending on where the ceremony takes place.  Always ask the minister who is conducting the ceremony to give you some idea of how long you should be expected to talk.  The general rule of thumb is to keep your eulogy to no more than two minutes. Always give the minister a copy of what you are going to say so that they can make sure that there is no double up on the content. 

    Remember to have your speech written out on a piece of paper in its entirety to help you to remember what you want to say and then, in the event that you are unable to finish reading it out or get cold feet and decide not to do it, then the minister can take over and read the script out for you. 

    If you have a lot to say then sometimes it is better to say the majority of it afterwards at the gathering of the family at the wake.

If after all of this you find that you are still not able to put into words what you are trying to say, then we can help you. All you need to do is provide us with all of the information and we will write a fitting tribute for you, which you can then read out at the ceremony.  This will reflect the person and celebrate their life.  Please contact us on 0800 0327 260 charlotte.graham@f2die4.com

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