Eulogies are highly emotional speeches that praise the life and memory of a deceased person. Sometimes, when people are in grief it’s hard to write a meaningful speech, let alone deliver. Here are 5 steps that will hopefully guide you in the whole process.
The most touching and memorable eulogies are written from a personal point of view. Remember all the fond memories you’ve had with the deceased and choose the ones that you think the crowd will appreciate best. If you don’t have any positive memories to recollect, it always helps to ask the friends and relatives for input. Remember to put them in a good light, or at least try to be understanding and embrace their humanity— all of it—the good, the bad and the ugly. The people attending are there because they acknowledge their relationship with the deceased and they want to pay their final respects so try your best to focus more on the positive side of things.
Choose a theme
It’s important to decide what you want to focus on in your speech. Whether it’s their personality, achievements, work, or life story is up to you. It helps to stick to one theme and not digress too much. The generally accepted length of most eulogies is between 3 to 4 minutes. It’s okay that you can’t squeeze in the entire history of the deceased into the given time limit. Just pick the highlights that you feel are the most relevant and appropriate to the setting. Although most eulogies are informal and intimate, there will be times when a more formal tone is in order, especially if the deceased is a high ranking official. If you’re having trouble deciding the tone of your speech, try imagining what your loved one would have wanted. Would they prefer a serious eulogy or a lighter, more humorous one?
Organize your thoughts
This is a standard for all speeches. Organize your thoughts in such a way that it will make sense to your audience. Begin your speech with something light or engaging to get the attention of your listeners. One sure way to bore the audience is if you just state facts, tell a story instead!
Review and practice
Once you’ve finished writing let a friend review your speech and make all the necessary corrections and revisions. Print your speech in a large enough font that will enable you to read without glasses on or through tears. Practice the tone and pacing of your speech out loud in front of a mirror. Do this again and again until you feel confident enough that you can deliver your speech effectively. But keep in mind that this is not a performance. You are doing this to honor the deceased.
Finally when it’s time to deliver your speech, remember that it’s okay if your speech won’t go as you’ve practiced. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This isn’t a performance or a competition. You’re doing this to honor your loved one. When things get emotional don’t hesitate to pause for a moment and then continue. When you become too overwhelmed with emotions, ask someone else to back you up or take over. Don’t pressure yourself. People are more understanding during these times so it’s okay.