Eulogy – the Funeral Address.
The term ‘eulogy‘ comes from the Greek, meaning literally ‘words of praise.’ Eulogies are perhaps the most common form of memorial. They are a unique form of public speaking, as the person who delivers the tribute is usually not accustomed to public speaking. And that isn’t made any easier by the high emotions of folk in mourning. On top of all that, when delivering the funeral oration, the speaker should remember to show respect for the deceased and care for the feelings of those present. Writing a eulogy is one of the most difficult aspects of organising a funeral for those left behind.
The Basics of the Eulogy.
There are no formal rules. The eulogy need not be especially short or particularly eloquent, and in fact, trying too hard to be “professional” can actually take away from a good eulogy. Some of the best eulogies are rambling and conversational. What makes a good eulogy is that it’s a personal and heartfelt memorial, so it’s important to be as open and (reasonably!) honest as possible.
Some basic parts of a eulogy.
- Three or four brief stories that show the best qualities or finest moments of the deceased. How did you first meet them? What was the funniest thing that ever happened? What was the best or strongest thing the deceased ever said or did?
- Pick three or four qualities of the deceased, then fully brief stories showing them in action. What will you or others miss most about him or her? What things did other people tell you about them that struck a chord?
- It’s okay to very briefly mention some of their negative qualities (with care!) This can add some humour to the proceedings, and keep them real. And make the good qualities stand out more. Even better, use the deceased’s own words. Perhaps regrets they had or things they knew they could have improved on. The idea is to provide a true account of who the deceased is, and why you loved him or her. There is no need to make them appear as saints.
People will don’t expect a eulogy to be perfectly delivered. You are probably not a professional speaker. They’ll certainly understand if your voice cracks or if you break down. You might also stray from the speech you initially wrote if you feel moved by the moment. There’s no wrong way to deliver a heartfelt, honest memorial for someone you love and who was loved by those who are listening.