If you’ve been asked to give a speech at the funeral of a loved one, you might feel overwhelmed with emotions. Naturally, you’ll still be in the first stages of grief for your loved one, which can make it hard to think or talk about them so openly. You might also feel pressure to give a ‘worthy’ speech – one that honours your friend or family member, as well as being suitable for the occasion.
Giving a eulogy speech can be a surprising way to find clarity and closure after a bereavement. Many people see it as a gift and a privilege to speak at the funeral of their loved one. If you’ve been asked to give a funeral speech, here are some tips to help you find the right words.
Consider who you’re writing for
Before you start writing the eulogy, think about who you’re writing it for. Have you been chosen as the spokesperson for your immediate family? Will you be the only person giving a speech or are you speaking on behalf of someone? Are you writing as a friend, colleague, or partner? Answering these questions will help you ensure the eulogy is an appropriate tribute.
Start with stories
It may help to sit down and think about some of your favourite stories about the departed. They can be touching, funny, emotional or inspiring. Rather than simply writing a speech summarising someone’s chronology, consider basing the eulogy around the stories and moments that stand out.
Look for quotes to inspire you
It can be difficult to know where to begin when writing a eulogy. Sometimes a quote, a poem or a short reading can help give you the inspiration you need to get started.
Write the core first – then add the introduction and the conclusion
Focus on the core message of your written eulogy – what do you want to say about the deceased? What do you want people to remember about them? When you have the core of the speech, you can add an appropriate introduction and a memorable conclusion.
Tips for delivering the eulogy:
- Rehearse the speech as much as you can. Practice in front of a mirror, or ask a friend or loved one to listen to you read through it. Try to practice maintaining eye contact while you rehearse, it’s an important part of public speaking.
- Find what works best for you. You may prefer to have the speech written down word-for-word. Others prefer short prompts or cue cards.
- Don’t worry about faltering. Nobody expects you to get through a eulogy flawlessly. You may stumble over sentences, you may become overwhelmed with emotion. No need to apologise – just take a deep breath and move on when you can.