We all know how upsetting it is to lose a loved one, but a well-written eulogy during a funeral can be a really uplifting chance to celebrate and remember the great person they were. Relatives and friends often find a lot of comfort in the kind and moving words of a eulogy, praising the person that they loved and sparking nostalgic, colourful conversations about their life.
Eulogies are personal, special and unique to everyone, but if you are asked to be the person that gives that eulogy or want to volunteer to do it, what should you bear in mind? Avalon Funeral Plans offer their advice.
Who gives a eulogy?
This is a decision for the family but it can be a difficult one to make in the middle of greiving. It could be a very close family member or a friend, but it's usually a good idea for someone who speaks well and can tell a story to deliver the eulogy.
If you've been asked to give the eulogy but don't feel you were that close to the person, it's a good idea to set out your relationship to the person straight away and explain that others knew them better.
Where do I begin?
Start by finding memories and anecdotes from family, colleagues and friends by asking how they met, their favourite time together and what words best sum them up. It's usually a good idea to look at photographs together to get the stories flowing. Think about your own memories too and then jot down some notes.
See if you can spot any general themes among these notes which you can use to structure the eulogy, such as their proudest moments, their sayings or their mannerisms.
How do I start writing?
Think first about what a eulogy should be. The best eulogies are usually:
- Brief: 5 minutes is a good length which is about 900-1,000 words when spoken at a measured pace. Try to focus on just two or three themes, fleshed out with anecdotes too.
- Conversational: keep it chatty and light rather than too formal
- Fitting: Think about what best fits the personality of the person
- Positive: Celebrate all the good about the person and don't dwell on any flaws or more sad memories
- Moving: Tears are inevitable, but looking back with fondness is perhaps the greatest gift you can give to a grieving audience
As you get your pen in hand, don't pressurise yourself to create a masterpiece straight away- it will take time. It's a good idea to quickly come up with a first draft that concentrates on your ideas rather than the style and then later iron out the sentences and make it flow.
To help you write, try to structure the eulogy into three sections:
- An opening, which introduces yourself and sets out your themes by telling a story or using a favourite reading
- A middle broken down into the different themes you want to talk about
- An end which sums up your last impression of the person and leaves on a thought listeners can take away with them and think about
What if I can't think what to write?
Just start putting pen to paper without thinking very much about what you're writing even if it's nonsense. You could also try writing in a different surrounding- such as a cafe- or going for a walk to see if that helps.
Once you've written something, go away and sleep on it too and then come back with fresh eyes to make any changes.
What advice do you have for giving the eulogy?
To make it easier for you on the day, print your eulogy out in a clear, large-ish font and number your pages just in case they get muddled up.
Then practice your eulogy at home a few times speaking slowly. Try counting to one after every comma and to two after every full stop. If your sentences feel a bit too long or clunky when you do this, cut them down before the day of the funeral. Ask a friend if you can try reading it to them too to pratice speaking in front of someone.
On the day, it's natural for you to feel emotional and perhaps a little nervous. No one will be expecting perfection so just be yourself. If your emotions get a bit too much while you're speaking just pause for a moment and take a deep breath- your audience will be sympathetic and completely behind you.
When a loved one passes away being able to plan their funeral becomes an added burden during an already difficult time. It makes us realise how much we want our own loved ones to avoid the stress of arranging our funeral under extremely di cult circumstances. To make things easier for your loved ones, consider taking out a funeral plan where you can specify your preferences in advance – including who you would like to read your eulogy – and relieve your loved ones of the additional emotional burden. See below to nd out more details about taking out a plan.
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