Giving a meaningful, moving eulogy can be a nerve-wracking situation for even the most accomplished public speaker, but it need not be. How can you summarize somebody’s life in a few short minutes, while being both somber and funny at the same time? Writing and delivering a eulogy is a therapeutic tool to help deal with your grief, and being chosen to give a eulogy is an honour and should be treated that way. Here are some tips for writing and delivering an eloquent and memorable eulogy.
Talk with family members, close friends, and co-workers to get important information on the deceased. Some important information to include in the eulogy is the person’s family and other close relationships, their education/career, hobbies or special interests, places the person lived or traveled too, and any special accomplishments they had.
Organize Your Thoughts
Jot down your ideas by whatever means are most comfortable and familiar to you. Create an outline of your speech, and fill in the information that you gathered about the person.
Write It Down
This is not a toast at a wedding where you can make off the cuff remarks, and you should not ad lib a eulogy. Writing it all down allows you to include and remember every detail you wanted in your eulogy. When you bring a copy your eulogy to the podium make sure it is easy to read, print it out in a large font, or if it hand-written leave a few spaces between the lines. Keep in mind your time constraints, it’s best to keep things on the short side, especially if there are other speakers.
Review and Revise
Your first draft will not be the last. When you think you are done, sleep on it and look it over in the morning when it is fresh again, that will be the time to make any necessary revisions.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
Read over your eulogy several times in order to become familiar with it. Practice in front of a mirror, read it over to some friends or family and have them give you feedback. Become familiar with your speech so you can recite it without making it look like you’re reading from a script. The more you practice the more comfortable you will be.
Make them laugh, but be respectful
A funeral is not a roast, however there is room for humour in your eulogy. Fondly remember a story about the person that everyone can relate too. Keep it appropriate, there will be children and the elderly there that may not share the same sense of humour. Laughter is truly the best medicine, and some well placed humour will help people cope, and will bring back fond memories of the deceased.
Don’t be afraid to show emotion
Funerals are an extremely emotional event, nobody expects you not to shed a few tears. However, if you feel that you will be too strongly overcome by your emotions, have a back-up plan in place where someone you trust can deliver the eulogy for you. Give them a copy well in advance if you feel this could be an issue.
Have a glass of water as well as tissues handy.
Taking a moment to pause for a sip of water or to wipe a tear can help bring your back on track.
Writing an obituary is a difficult and emotional task. First, you will need to gather information from family and friends of the deceased about their childhood, education, career and hobbies and interests. As well, speak to the funeral home to receive any important information on the date, time and location of any funeral service, or other funeral related events. Using the template will help make the process easier and will ensure you write a properly structured obituary.
Instructions: Replace all items in ITALICS below with the appropriate information.
[GIVEN NAME] [MIDDLE NAME (AND NICKNAME)] [SURNAME NAME], [AGE], of [CITY], [STATE], passed away on [DATE OF DEATH] in [LOCATION OF DEATH].
Funeral service will be held at [LOCATION] on [DATE] at [TIME] with Reverend [NAME] of [CHURCH] officiating. Burial will follow at [CEMETERY NAME], [CEMETERY LOCATION]. Visitation will be held at [LOCATION] on [DATE] at [TIME]. [NAME OF FUNERAL HOME] will be handling the funeral arrangements.
[NAME] was born in [LOCATION OF BIRTH] to [PARENT’S NAMES] on [DATE OF BIRTH]. He/she went to high school at [SCHOOL NAME] and graduated in [YEAR]. He/she went on to earn a degree/certificate in [DEGREE TYPE] from [SCHOOL NAME]. He/she worked as a [JOB TYPE] for [COMPANY] for [NUMBER OF YEARS]. He/she enjoyed [ACTIVITIES/HOBBIES]. He/she received [AWARDS/HONORS] and was involved in [CHARITIES/ORGANIZATIONS].
[NAME] is survived by his/her [RELATION], [NAME] of [CITY]. (List all survivors: spouse children, siblings, parents, grandchildren, nieces and nephews). He/she is preceded in death by his/her [RELATION], [NAME]. (List predeceased: spouse, parents, children and siblings.)
Memorial donations may be made to [ORGANIZATION NAME], [MAILING ADDRESS]. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to [ORGANIZATION/NAME] [FINAL WORDS].
Remember most newspapers charge by the word, this template is good for getting the all the information necessary in as few words possible. However, this template is not written in stone. You can make any adjustments you feel necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a funeral?
A funeral is a ceremony for a deceased person prior to burial or cremation. A funeral gives the opportunity for family and friends of the deceased to gather and mourn the passing of their loved one, to share cherished memories and celebrate their life. A funeral is a vital first step to help the bereaved heal after the loss of someone special.
What type of service should I have?
If no pre-arrangements have been made, the type of service is entirely up to you. Services are usually held at a funeral home, community hall, or a place of worship. There is a wealth of different services, ranging from a traditional religious or military service to something a little more non-traditional. Our funeral directors are more than happy to work with you to figure out what would be the most appropriate.
Who are Funeral Directors and what do they do?
Funeral directors are in charge of all the logistics following a death. They complete all the necessary paperwork, make arrangements for the transportation of the body, and put into action the choices made by the family in regards to the funeral service and the final resting place of the body. Beyond the logistics, funeral directors are there to provide moral support and guidance for someone coping with death.
What if a death occurs away from my home town?
We are here to help, we can arrange to have your loved one transported home from anywhere in the world. We will assume responsibility and make the proper arrangements to have them returned to the community. We use the same organization that brings our military home when needed.
What is embalming and what purpose does it serve?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body; it also slows down the decomposition process and enhances the appearance of the body damaged by traumatic death or illness. Embalming gives time to the family of the deceased to arrange a service, and allows the family the option of having an open-casket viewing.
What do I do if I am not satisfied with the way a funeral was handled?
Funeral homes and funeral professionals in Alberta are licensed by the Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board. If you are unhappy with the way a funeral was handled or the actions of a funeral home in Alberta, you may speak with or proceed with a complaint process to seek resolution of the matter. More information is found at http://www.afsrb.ab.ca/ or by phone at (780) 452-6130
How much does a funeral cost?
The cost of the funeral varies depending on the wishes you have. The average cost of a funeral is between $5,000-$7,000, however, it varies greatly depending on the kind of service you desire. In general, cremation tends to cost less than burial. The costs include professional services including transportation, embalming and other preparations, the use of a facility for the ceremony, and the purchase of a casket or urn.
Can I personalize a funeral?
Of course you can, in fact, more and more people are opting for a more non-traditional personalized service. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate somebody’s life. There are many unique ways to celebrate life, let the funeral director know exactly what your desires are and they will honour your wishes.
Do we need to have an obituary notice and what is included in one?
It is highly recommended to have an obituary notice that’s either placed in a local newspaper or placed online. An obituary lets the public know that a death has occurred, and gives them information about the service. Obituaries generally include the deceased’s full name, age, city, and date of birth and the city they were living in when they died. It also includes the name of the deceased’s spouse, along with the names of anyone else significant in their lives, such as parents, children or grandchildren. Space may be limited in a newspaper obituary, but you may include a little blurb on the life and legacy of the deceased. An online obituary or memorial website offers you the chance to add a lot more about the deceased.
What happens if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?
We are here to help, funeral directors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
Do I need to have an embalming
No, embalming is often an unnecessary expense, even if a viewing is desired. There are times when we would recommend embalming, especially if there is an extended gap between death and burial or cremation.
Why are funerals so expensive?
Funerals are labor intensive and require a lot of work from a lot of people. The cost of a funeral goes beyond merchandise such as caskets, it includes the services of a funeral director in making the necessary arrangements, filling out forms, and dealing with all the other people involved in the death (doctors, lawyers, insurance companies). Funeral directors work an average of 40 hours per funeral. The cost of operating a funeral home is factored into the cost as well. Funeral homes are a 24 hour operation, with extensive facilities that need to be maintained and secured.