Overcoming The Challenges Of Writing A Eulogy
Funerals are a difficult time for everyone, but they can be especially challenging for friends or relatives that have been asked to deliver a eulogy for the deceased. Even for those that find public speaking easy, giving a memorial address for a close friend or family member can feel like a huge responsibility.
To help get you prepared for the moment, we’ve put together a brief guide on how to write and deliver a truly fitting tribute.
What’s the purpose of a eulogy?
Former poet laureate Andrew Motion has written eulogies for The Queen Mother and Princess Diana. He believes a eulogy’s power is that it puts our loss in perspective and helps us to understand that we cope best, not by forgetting, but by learning how to remember. For him, a eulogy “might move us to tears but it will start to heal us too."
Traditionally, a eulogy was a formal ‘funeral oratory’ in praise of a person well-known in society, but more recently, eulogies have come to play an important part in everyday funerals. In simple terms, they are a short speech about the life of the departed that will help the assembled mourners to focus their own memories of the person that has passed.
A good eulogy is a personal tribute to the person who has died, summing up the key events of their life, but more importantly, describing their personality and what made them special to the people attending the funeral.
What is the correct tone for a eulogy?
There is no perfect tone for a eulogy. Your job as a eulogist is to bring the deceased clearly into focus for the congregation and to help them remember, so the tone of your words need to reflect the qualities and quirks of the person you are remembering.
If you are talking about a person that loved to laugh and make others laugh, a light-hearted eulogy that has the congregation chuckling is perfect. If they were a more thoughtful person, then a more serious, reflective tone may be more appropriate.
Consider the feelings of your listeners
Many people find funerals incredibly upsetting and too much humor will seem inappropriate to them. The best eulogies will strike a respectful balance between gentle humor and thoughtful reflection.
It may seem to be stating the obvious to say your eulogy should be about the person who has passed. But it is too easy to frame your memories in reference to yourself and you want to be as inclusive as possible with the story you are telling.
Avoid lists - Avoid stringing together a shopping list of life events spanning primary school to retirement. Lists are not particularly interesting, stories are. It is also impossible to pack an entire life’s worth of experiences into a five-minute eulogy, and anything much longer than that risks losing the audience’s attention.
Quality not quantity - Focus on a few memorable anecdotes that highlight the personality of the person being eulogized - a series of moments, that together paint a familiar picture.
Talk to friends and family - This can help you find stories that other people may have forgotten. What made the person you are writing about who they were? What made them different, unique? What did they mean to the people who will be attending the funeral?
Be honest - We are brought up not to speak ill of the dead, and no one will appreciate a negative eulogy. But it is also important to be honest; words that are overly sentimental or romantic can leave people feeling every bit as awkward as negativity. Use your subject’s foibles to help your audience remember them how they really were.
How should a eulogy be delivered?
No matter how experienced you are at public speaking, standing up to speak at the funeral of a loved one is different. In grief and sadness, your own emotions will be heightened, as will those of your audience. But at a funeral, no one is looking for a star turn to take attention away from the person being remembered. It is enough to speak openly and honestly.
Practice reading your words aloud before the service - This will help you smooth out any rough edges and give you a chance to get comfortable with the flow of the words you are reading. It also helps you avoid your speech sounding stilted.
Speak slowly - That way your speech is clearer and helps being understood by the audience, giving people time to think about what you are saying.
End on a high note - Remember this is an opportunity for you to pass on one last gift from the deceased to the audience. Ending your eulogy with a favorite saying or a special attitude to life can give your fellow mourners a special memory to carry beyond the funeral and better remember the deceased as they return to their lives.
Although being asked to deliver a eulogy for a loved one can seem like a huge responsibility, it is also an incredible honor to be able to pay the final tribute to your friend or relative.
This article was originally publish by Telegraph Financial Services, to view original post click HERE.
Have you written your own eulogy yet? Do you have more tips to share with out readers? Tell us in the comments below.