“Let no one weep for me or celebrate my funeral with mourning; for I still live, as I pass to and fro through the mouths of men.” – Quintus Ennius
A eulogy, or funeral speech, is a remembrance speech or high praise that you give at a funeral or memorial service in honor of your loved one. It is a way of saying goodbye, by sharing touching stories to bring the person to life in the audience’s imagination and give them something by which to remember your loved one. It can include a funny story or warm memories about your loved one, a summary of their well lived life, their unique qualities or examples of the lasting impact they had on everyone and everything around them.
Usually the person giving a eulogy is someone close to the deceased, like a child eulogising a parent, a husband/wife to a partner or it might be a close friend. It is a great honor to be asked to deliver a eulogy and pay tribute to a loved one, but even if you are used to speaking in public, finding the right words can be difficult whilst grieving. If you feel overwhelmed, remember that every eulogy is meant to be as unique as the person giving it and the the one it pays tribute to.
You don’t have to be the best speechmaker, as long as you write from the heart you could deliver a meaningful eulogy that sincerely encapsulates the essence of your loved one. There is also nothing wrong with asking someone else to help you write it, or even to have them standby to deliver it if you become overwhelmed on the day.
Be honest but always keep it positive and include heartwarming stories of your loved one, this is not the time to offend, shock or upset anyone in the audience. It might even be a good idea to ask family and friends for ideas or memories and traits they wish to have highlighted. A eulogy does not necessarily have to be sombre or overly serious, humour if used appropriately might help to make the tribute personal and unique. Use humour cautiously, too much can feel wrong in the moment.
Write your thoughts down and keep it conversational. When we speak we do not speak in perfect sentences, perfect language or textbook grammar. Rather focus your energy on how well you tell the stories than how well you write. Give your eulogy a beginning, middle and end. After you are done writing your eulogy, give it to someone close to you, who knew the deceased, to read it and give you feedback on accuracy, appropriateness of your humour, and comprehensibility. Once you are happy, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse… and you might want to consider having a friend or family member to also be prepared to read it if you struggle with your emotions on the day.
Do try to keep it under 10 minutes, otherwise you stand the risk of losing the audiences’ full attention, a great eulogy is all about quality over quantity. Do not overthink it, it doesn’t have to be faultless, it just needs to be from the heart, and do not worry about getting emotional, because in the end of the day, it is emotional, and everyone not only expects it but understands it.
For some ideas and stimulation, we have collected over 200 funeral quotes, over 100 funeral poems and over 200 funeral songs from which you can draw inspiration to help you turn what you feel into beautiful heart-felt words.