How to Prepare a Funeral Eulogy
For many people, preparing a funeral eulogy is one way to share their loved one’s stories. Writing a eulogy doesn’t come natural, especially after the passing of a loved one, but it can serve as a healing outlet to honor their life. Performing a eulogy at a funeral service is a time-honored tradition, and in this post we’ll outline the most important aspects of this tradition and how to write a eulogy during this difficult time.
What is a Eulogy?
A eulogy is a genre of speech. These speeches are typically given during a funeral service or memorial event in memory and praise of a loved one. Not to be mistaken for an elegy, a funeral eulogy can be a number of things ─ a recount of personal history, words of praise, or last words for the person. Technically, a eulogy can be given to people who are still alive, making the practice appropriate for occasions other than a traditional funeral service, such as during a memorial, a celebration of life, or a live funeral.
Eulogies are a form of epideictic (ceremonial) speech. These speeches are known to ‘praise and blame’, telling a story of the person directly to the audience. Epideictic speeches are focused on the present, so understanding the context of the situation, the people being addressed, and how to properly engage the audience are necessary considerations when drafting these ceremonial speeches.
How Do You Write a Eulogy?
First, think about how you want to remember your loved one. You could share a memorable anecdote about them, retell the story of their life, or praise their personality. There are limitless ways to share your loved one’s memory ─ and no single way is necessarily correct. You can also share how they personally changed or affected your life. When drafting your speech, remember the context of the occasion; the event is focused on your loved one, and therefore your speech should focus on them. Stay away from talking about yourself too much in the eulogy.
Next, think about the tone of your eulogy. While the traditional eulogy is solemn and serious, it’s not a requirement. Write in a way that is comfortable for you, and best celebrates your loved one’s memory. While you should aim to be sensitive, don’t be afraid to be honest about your loved one when writing a eulogy. Mourn, but remember to celebrate the good memories as well.
How much do you need to prepare for your eulogy? It depends. Losing and grieving over a loved one manifests differently for different people. If writing a eulogy brings up difficult memories, or you’re tied up doing a number of other things in preparation for the funeral service, there’s no inherent pressure to write a eulogy for your loved one. In terms of preparation, here are three possible routes you could take:
1. Formal (Manuscript) Speech
If given enough time, you could prepare a pre-written, formal speech. By creating a manuscript, you can map out exactly what you want to say. When writing the speech, think about your primary focus. As mentioned above, that can be as simple as sharing a memorable story about your loved one, or as complex as trying to navigate their entire life. Whatever path you choose, take some time to make notes or draft an outline about the topic. From there, write out the speech. The occasion in which a eulogy is typically performed will be emotionally heightened by the grief of losing a loved one, so be sensitive, but truthful in your writing ─ you’ll be in the company of a number of other individuals going through the same difficult experience.
After preparing the draft, if you have a bit of time, go over your writing and make edits. It may be helpful to have another person, preferably someone who also knew your loved one, to help review the script for errors, either technical or content-wise. Once it’s ready, take some time to practice the speech. In the moment, you might decide to digress from the speech itself or omit certain parts, but knowing your speech ahead of time could be helpful for reducing nerves.
2. Extemporaneous Speech
An extemporaneous speech involves some notes, but mainly dispatches the speaker to speak naturally on the subject. This isn’t the easiest method of preparing for a speech, and it leaves a lot of room for error in the process. However, if you’ve had experience preparing extemporaneous speeches, this method could help you speak more directly to the audience, rather than reciting from a pre-written manuscript.
An extemporaneous speech works by having the speaker pre-prepare notes or an outline. Similar to the manuscript speech, this process also begins with choosing a topic to cover. Afterwards, create an outline from your notes about the topic. For a eulogy, some important things to note in your outline could be important names and dates or specific events. Another recommendation is to pre-write your introduction and conclusion to start and end your speech strong in the case of last-minute nerves or if you become sidetracked during the presentation.
Practice is necessary ─ even if it’s just memorizing the outline or hearing how different lines sound out loud. Remember there’s no need to rush when writing an extemporaneous eulogy speech; The main goal is to express your affection for your loved one, honoring their memory.
3. Impromptu Speech
While possibly the most difficult speech to make, you might be inclined to make an impromptu speech, which requires that you have no planning or practice beforehand. During the funeral service, the family of your loved one may open the floor for individuals to go up and say a few words ─ and if you are so inclined, you might make your way up to the podium yourself.
Since you wouldn’t have prepared the speech ahead of time, be aware of your limitations. Take a deep breath and compose yourself before going up. It’s recommended when making an impromptu speech to focus on your own experiences: a story to share, reflecting about their personality, or how they affected your life. Whatever you choose to talk about, think about the tone of the other speeches that have taken place, and keep it short and sweet.
Is it Necessary to Write a Eulogy?
When you lose a loved one, it’s undoubtedly a difficult time. There are a number of things you have to arrange, and writing a eulogy isn’t the first thing on most people’s lists. However, writing a eulogy could be one way for you to respond to your loved one’s passing, memorializing their memory into a speech to be shared with everyone else who loves them. Whether you write one or not, it’s important to take the time you need to properly grieve and mourn. And, if you feel moved to write something after the funeral service, there are still opportunities to write about your loved one: preparing an obituary, a biography of the individual, or a speech for a future memorial service.
If you are making funeral arrangements for your loved one’s passing or your own, Tulip Cremation is here to help you through your most difficult hours. At Tulip Cremation, we are dedicated to providing you a simple, high-quality direct cremation service at a low-price. When you’re ready to reach out, call our 24/7 Family Care Team at (844) 942-4909 or arrange online.