Funeral Words: Writing a Funeral Speech
Writing a Eulogy
Why We Write Funeral Speeches
When you write a funeral speech, or eulogy, you're not only honoring the person who has died; you're also honoring his family and friends. You're telling your listeners that this person's life had an impact: on you, on his family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, on the community and even on the world.
Begin your speech by giving the facts: date and place of birth, town where she grew up, parents' and siblings' names, spouse and children, if any. You can talk about where she went to college, her occupation, honors, awards, organizations of which she was a member, or anything that you think is relevant or that those who didn't know her well would be interested in learning.
Write the Life
Write about your personal experience of him. If you have a favorite story that you've been telling for years, don't hold back. Tell it again. Even if your listeners have heard it before, it willl be comforting to hear a familiar story, especially one that illustrates some positive quality of the person they loved.
If you can't think of a story from your own experience, or you didn't know her that well, talk with her family and friends. Ask them about her childhood, her first job, her wedding if she married, her relationship with her spouse, her hobbies, her pets, her children, her "causes." Take notes. If you get too much material to use, count your blessings. Read over it and notice which stories really seem to tell you what kind of person she was, or which stories are just downright exciting or absorbing.
Write the story or stories you've chosen as if you were talking to one person. Make it conversational. Your grammar doesn't have to be perfect. It's more important that you convey the spirit of this person than that you use elegant language or perfect sentence construction.
Your speech doesn't have to be lengthy to have a big impact. If you choose one or two stories that really speak to the character of the person who's just died, you'll have written a successful eulogy.
It's Okay to Make People Chuckle at a Funeral
Don't be afraid to tell funny stories, as long as they won't embarrass anyone. Most people have been involved in something humorous or even hilarious in their lifetimes. And some people are just naturallly funny all their lives. If the person you're honoring was one of them, you'll probably have a gold mine of his amusing expressions and eccentric antics. In that case, if you didn't tell them, you'd be untrue to his spirit and nature.
Use Poems or Quotations
If you've chosen one story to tell and you'd like to add a poem or a quotation, you can find many appropriate funeral poems and quotations online. Here's just one site: Memories Are Forever! It's especially effective to end your speech with a quotation that sums up what you've been saying, or that describes the essence of the person. For example, if the person who has died would rather have you laugh than cry over her, you might use this quote from Isla Paschal Richardson: "Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there."
End your speech with a heartfelt sentence or two, such as "I'll always remember Aunt Edna for her kindness, her sense of humor in the face of any hardship and her enormous love for her family. And I'll always miss her." Or, if you've used a quote, as in the above paragraph, you might write, "If Aunt Edna were beside me today, I hope she'd be smiling at seeing all of us here together, celebrating her life."
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