How to put together a funeral speech (Eulogy)

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It is one of the saddest things that we have to do. On top of all the grief that we suffer, we also have to deal with nerves and the fear of standing up in front of a large crowd.

We have the worry that we may dry up and also the fact that we have limited time to prepare and are probably already emotionally drained.

This was the situation that I found myself in a few months ago following my mother’s death.

Here are a few tips that I have compiled to help you to prepare your eulogy.

1. Take a break to prepare

Before you start to write your speech take a break.Think about what you want to say. If possible go for a walk mull over what you would like to say. There are a number of themes that come across in many funeral speeches.

Life history – this is a short summary of someone’s life. These speeches are often fascinating as reveal a side to the deceased that was not always known.

Tribute – this brings out some of the highlights or achievements in somebody’s life. This is the form adopted in many obituaries in the newspaper.

Shared memories – This is a personal insight not into the life of the deceased, but of memories that you shared with them. These are often very touching and are one of the easiest to do.

Poem or reading – there are plenty of examples of these on the Funeral Section of the Presentation Magazine website.

Legacy – this focuses on their achievements and what they have left after them – children, changed lives, completed projects. The best example is on Christomer Wren tomb in St Paul’s Cathedral “reader if you require a monument, look around you”

Jot down your thoughts and mull it through in your own mind before you put pen to paper or start typing into Microsoft Word.

2. Keep it short

To keep the impact of a speech – keep it short. Three or five minutes will be enough to say what you have to say. You will need to write it down and rehearse to make sure that you keep to time. In presentations and speeches – less if often more.

3. Focus on the life, not on the death

It is so easy when you have been through a bereavement to focus on the death – and particularly the death process. The final years may have been very bad – and if you have been a carer this may have been very hard. But for your tribute, you need to focus on the better times, on the happy memories – on the life, and not on the death. Everyone in the audience will already be sad, let them take away a few happy memories.

4. Write it down

It’s a myth that you should be able to stand up and give a speech. Write down what you have to say.

5. Rehearse

Rehearsal really is key. Rehearse your speech out loud at least four times. One of these should be in front of an audience – a member of the family or a friend. This is really tough as you will be against the clock by now, but if you can put in the rehearsal time, your speech will get much better. You will also have the chance to fine tune it.

6. Have a backup

It is a very emotional time. You could very easily become overwhelmed by emotion. If you have rehearsed it will be much easier. Prepare to have someone on hand to take over if you break down. This could be a member of the family, a friend or even the priest. If you have two copies of the speech, then they can take over and say what you wanted to say. This will save the audience’s embarresment as well as your own.

7. Don’t over worry

A funeral is a very emotional time. The chance is that you may get emotional. But this is usual at a funeral. Many in the audience will be in tears. They won’t worry if you are.


Published On: 27th Nov 2010

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  1. thanks deffinately put ease to my mind

    b 19 Jul at 6:10 am
  2. I love your last tip. Everyone understands that funerals are difficult. No one will be offended or annoyed if you cry when speaking. Even if you have to leave and let your backup finish, that’s still appropriate in this setting.

    Jenn Davies 9 Apr at 8:57 pm
  3. Rehearsal really is important. Even though the time surrounding a funeral can be busy and difficult, it’s still a good idea to take a few hours to practice the eulogy. You’ll be much less nervous, and things are bound to go smoothly.

    Marc Fillion 4 May at 11:49 pm
  4. Thank you I agree, what have said. I lost a dear friend of mine.I don’t easily make friends, but IFOUND ONE VERY SPECIAL. To me was like family member. The important thing is,that after you write something of that person, read it with his partner, or family, so all the emotional comes out, with them first. After, rehearsal it a few times at home, so you can memorise it, to make it easy on yourself to read it. IF at the funeral, you get emotional, take a breath, wipe a tear, and continue. PEOPLE WILL UNDERSTAND. THANKS AGAIN.

    charlie 22 Jun at 9:02 pm
  5. How can I make a recording or a CD to be played after I die…and at my funeral service ? It would make my departure seem better and more responsible to my loved ones..including my children, their children and my two wives … this unusual or perhaps an area of accommodation in the future.?

    Don 13 Sep at 2:05 am