Funeral Tips

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Here is some collected advice from our forum on things to say at a funeral. Thanks to all those who posted over the years.

“Although I only knew Alfie (I have picked a name at random) for a short time/ the past three years, I came to get an insight into him…” (You can embellish this with some details.)

“Alfie was a larger than life character” or “Alfie had hidden depths” or “Alfie touched the lives of the people that he came to deal with…” or “Alfie never did anything in half measures…”

You can then build up a personal picture of how you got to know him and few insights into the positive sides of his character.”

Generally speaking it is best to not go too deeply into the pain that he suffered in his life or the dieing process – it is best to keep those to the positive stage. If you can give a few anecdotes into some of the nice moments that you shared that would also be nice.

Here are a couple of lines that you may be able to use:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares”. – Henri Nouwen

“A brief candle; both ends burning
An endless mile; a bus wheel turning
A friend to share the lonesome times
A handshake and a sip of wine
So say it loud and let it ring
We are all a part of everything
The future, present and the past
Fly on proud bird
You’re free at last”. – Charlie Daniels (written en route to the funeral for his friend, Ronnie Van Zant of the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd)

The key to not getting your words messed up at a funeral is to have your speech written down. Try to limit your speech to no more than five minutes – three is ideal. Write out your speech and go through it a number of times until you are happy with it.

The next key step is to practice it out loud. Do this at least four times. Do it with the full power of your voice. Also one of these times should be in front of a real audience – a friend, family, colleague. Feel free to make minor revisions following this, but make sure to practice the revised version. With the short timescales this may have to be practiced quite quickly.

A funeral is an emotional time. No one will mind if you get cut up, start crying or dry up when reading a funeral speech. It is entirely natural and expected. An essential back-up plan is to make sure that you have someone at the funeral who can take over with your tribute if you cannot carry on. It could be a member of the family, a close friend or the priest. This way your words will still come out, even if you are unable to speak them.

During the speech the key is to concentrate on the deceased’s life and not the dying. All too often we have been through a lot of pain with the death – particularly if we have acted as a carer. If you concentrate on her life, and a few of the memories that you share together it will make it easier.


Published On: 26th Nov 2010

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