Tips for Preparing a Eulogy
After a loved one passes away, you may be asked to give a eulogy. A eulogy is a short speech that acts as a memorial to the deceased. For many, public speaking can be daunting, and for those who have not written a eulogy before, you may not know where to begin. This article will provide some tips for preparing a eulogy for a funeral service or wake.
What to Talk About
Generally, your speech should be tailored to who the deceased was, and what they were like. Talk about how important they were in your life, your history together, their passions, and things that they were known for. You could share an anecdote or a special moment that you shared together. Usually, you want to sum up what made the individual unique and special. Overall, you want to talk about why this person was important to you. Try to avoid any potentially distasteful, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate stories, which might paint the deceased in a bad light. If you are unsure of how the story can be perceived, talk with another close loved one before reading the speech.
In most cases, a eulogy should be around 3-5 minutes long. There may be other speakers, and you want to give everyone a proper amount of time to share what they have to say about their loved one. Be sure to account for potential pauses for if you get emotional during the speech, And consider practicing it in the mirror for both timing and to help if you get choked up at certain parts.
When Do I Give the Eulogy?
This can depend on the venue, culture, and plans of the family. Some eulogies are given during the prayer service of the wake. In other cases, you may be asked to speak at the church service, or at the burial. If you are in the immediate family of the deceased, you may be able to choose that yourself. However, if you are a friend or more distant relative, the family may decide for you. If you are speaking at a church, the family or you will likely discuss the schedule with the clergyman to determine the timing or protocol that you should be aware of.
Determining the Tone of The Eulogy
While eulogies are often somber, they don't need to be. Consider the life of the one you've lost. If they were known for their comedy, then it might be appropriate to have your eulogy be funny. Also consider the terms of the loss. If they were young, if they're passing was untimely, etc it might not be appropriate to take a lighter tone. Overall, consider whether or not the deceased would have appreciated your eulogy. And if you are unsure, reach out to another loved one to help you determine what is best.
Showing Emotion While Speaking
It is totally OK to have an emotional reaction while giving your eulogy. In most cases, it's expected. If needed, take pauses to gather your thoughts, breathe deeply if you need to compose yourself, and know that it is all right to be too grief-stricken to speak. Even if you practice your eulogy, it can be difficult when in a room full of other grieving people. Before going up to give the eulogy, ask a close loved one to stand nearby, and take over if you get too overwhelmed with emotion. Be sure to write down your speech, so that they can take over if need be. Having a written speech will also help you keep on track if you get tripped up by emotions.
The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are several resources out there. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here.
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.