Leading people in public grieving is both difficult and an honor. You have the privilege of honoring someone’s life and the intense but rewarding task of helping their loved ones in a time of intense grief. Delivering the eulogy can be a particularly daunting task but it will go well with thought and care. Below are seven tips to help you craft and deliver your eulogy well:
Talk to the family
You may have known the deceased and have your own stories to tell or you may not have known them at all. You will need to talk to the family either way. This service is for them to honor their loved one. Let them share their stories with you.
It can sometimes be difficult for a family to open up. Ask some questions to prompt the conversation: What is your favorite memory of them? How do you think your loved one would have liked to be remembered? What did you learn from them? What did they do better than anyone else? Take notes as you’ll want to have enough personal information to honor the person and help their loved ones to mourn.
Don’t just talk with one person. Try to get stories from a variety of people. Talk with the spouse, their children, or their best friend. Involve any other care partners from nursing staff to to home health aides. They may have stories to tell that the family may not even know about. The more information you have the more well rounded your eulogy will be.
Write first; edit later
You may have accumulated a stack of quotes and stories and are now wondering how to put this all into writing. You won’t be able to tell every story or say all that needs to be said. No one expects you to do so. It is impossible to encapsulate someone’s life in a few paragraphs. Don’t judge your writing at this point. Just put down the thoughts that seem particularly positive and meaningful.
Consider taking a break when you’ve done this in order to clear your mind. Then go back and edit your document. Write a clear introduction like, “We are here today to celebrate the life of …” Use the body of your eulogy to tell some of the stories you’ve collected. Consider reading the obituary to close the eulogy. Follow the eulogy with a brief poem, prayer, or song that is fitting for that person.
Don’t be afraid to inject some lighthearted or humorous stories
Laughter heals, even at a funeral. While this isn’t a time to work out a comedy routine, a humorous story or two relieves a lot of tension. The family may have told you some funny anecdotes. They will appreciate hearing it again and will laugh. Others will, too. Allowing people to laugh helps them to remember the joy that their loved one brought to their lives. It also builds credibility for you as the speaker.
Keep it short
This isn’t a biographical lecture. Again, you won’t be able to say all that could be said. And, the eulogy is only one part of a memorial service. The songs, the poems, the rituals, and the prayers, all have a role to play in the service. If you as the service leader have gone past seven minutes you’ve gone way too long. You will have lost those gathered, even if you are saying wonderful things.
Don’t insert your beliefs
You have your own understanding of religion, life, and death. Do not presume that the deceased or their loved ones would agree with you. Avoid saying things like, “They are in a better place,” “All things happen for a reason,” or “You’ll see them again someday.” Instead, empathize with mourners by acknowledging how difficult this time has been.
You’ve got this
Crafting and delivering a eulogy isn’t easy but with care and intention you can help mourners during one of the toughest times in their lives. Speak with love and compassion. Your words can be a balm to the wounds of the grieving.
I’d be happy to help you in whatever way I can. I have 15 years of writing and editing experience. I’d love to help you amplify your story. Contact me at email@example.com.
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