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A eulogy is a speech given at a funeral or memorial service in memory of the person being remembered. You don’t have to be a great writer to deliver a heartfelt and meaningful eulogy that captures the essence of the deceased. The best eulogies are brief (between 3-5 minutes) while being specific about happy reflections and family celebrations/events, as well as thoughtful and not without the occasional touch of humour (when appropriate). Here are some helpful tips to follow when writing a eulogy.
Decide on the overall tone of the message that you are trying to convey – do you want it be serious or lighthearted or a combination of both? The addition of humour can help convey the deceased’s personality and at the same time illustrate some of his or her most endearing qualities.
Briefly introduce yourself and the role you played in the life of the deceased. This won’t need to take long as most people within the audience will probably know you. Just state your name and give a brief description of the relationship you had with the deceased and when you first met.
If there is more than one person who is going to speak make sure that you don’t repeat stories or information that they are going to talk about. For instance one person might like to concentrate on family life/celebrations and another may be covering how colleagues interacted with them.
Prepare well by writing your speech down. Funerals can be difficult and by writing everything down it will keep you focused. Brainstorm the ideas you have and the areas you might concentrate on (ie personality traits, interests/hobbies, travel, career etc). Share specific stories that illustrate the depth of your friendship.
Consider sharing your eulogy with some friends or family members who know the deceased well. This can help draw out additional stories to relate.
Read the draft of your eulogy and time it to ensure that you are not going beyond 5 minutes. By rehearsing the eulogy it will help you learn to control your emotions at the time you deliver it.
Have someone on standby. Although you are likely to be fine on the day sometimes the occasion can lead you to breakdown and be unable to continue. It is always good to have someone stand with you as a support and back-up when you delivery the eulogy.
Before you commence your speech take a couple of deep breaths and remind yourself that everyone in attendance is there to support you and they understand just how difficult a eulogy can be to deliver.
Remember to look up at those present from time to time and make eye contact. Doing so will help your delivery feel more natural and like you are having a conversation with the audience.
Send a copy to the family so that they have a copy as a permanent keepsake. Often a funeral can be somewhat of a blur to family members and it is nice for them to be able to recount your eulogy days or months down the track or even pass on to future generations.