Bereavement can be one of the most difficult aspects of life to cope with. Loved ones inevitably pass on, but writing a eulogy speech that does justice to the loss you feel is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do.
If you (or someone you know) have lost someone recently, then you’ll know the feeling of disbelief that comes with such an event. That, and the whirlwind of emotions that goes along with it, is enough to deal with on its own. Yet with every passing, those left behind are entrusted with one fundamental task by the recently deceased: to live on.
The first step towards a continued life is to put those who are gone to rest.
Eulogy Speeches – Reminding Ourselves that We Grieve Together
For the sake of formality, let us start by taking a look at the definition of a eulogy. A eulogy is a speech given during a funeral as a tribute to the recently deceased – one that recounts moments shared with them, as well as bits and pieces of what you’ll remember them most fondly for. It’s considered an honor to be asked to give a eulogy for someone you knew, as it tends to show just how great a part you played in their lives, and how great a part they played in yours.
A eulogy can present itself as a very tricky task, especially given the breadth of what it aims to achieve, as well as the gravity of the situation. You’re not just saying good bye to someone who was a close companion in one way or another, you’re also addressing a gathering of people who are similarly bereaved and grieving with you.
When you speak, you are speaking as the singular voice that ushers that lost loved one to the great beyond – your words forming the ending note in the final chapter of their lives. You speak on the behalf of everyone who grieves with you, and sometimes on the behalf of the deceased themselves. The aim is to say good bye in a way that respects the time you spent together, and steels everyone in preparation for times to come.
Naturally, this is quite the responsibility, and most of the time, the person taking it on is one of the people who are most affected by the loss. Most people will not give many eulogies over the course of their lives, which means advice (at least advice that is based on experience) will be hard to come by, and undoubtedly very difficult to ask for.
Moreover, every person is different, meaning every eulogy is different, and different people will approach the task in very unique ways.
There are some key considerations, however, that remain common throughout parting addresses, and knowing these can help you figure out how you want to word and deliver your own piece. To start off…
Tips for Writing a Touching Eulogy Speech
We mentioned this in passing earlier, but it deserves an explicit mention: There’s no such thing as a clinical approach to eulogy writing. You can seek inspiration wherever you might find it, but always remember that the person you’re writing about, and the assembly you’re speaking to, are both entirely unique to your situation.
As such, adopting a formulaic approach to speech writing can take away from the essence of what a eulogy aims to achieve. You want your eulogy to be guided by a respect for your feelings, and the feelings of the people you’re addressing; and not by a desire to check the boxes for what makes a complete speech.
1. Remember to Talk to Other People Who Were Close to the Deceased
This is also critical, and applies even more so when you’ve been asked to deliver the eulogy by someone who, in your mind, was closer to the deceased than even you. You should make sure that your address is not focused exclusively on moments you shared with the dearly departed, without giving room for other people in the assembly to connect to it. Remember, the purpose of a eulogy is twofold – you’re honoring a lost loved one and acknowledging their loss, while also attempting to make the process of bearing that loss easier on those around you.
Make sure your own stories are interspersed with mentions of other people who are present, if not their stories as well. Being included in the process of informing your eulogy helps people feel less isolated in their grief, which in turn makes grieving a less difficult ordeal.
Also, while you had your own unique connection to the deceased, so did many of those around you at the time you’re delivering your address; it’s important that you acknowledge those connections when you’re speaking to everyone.
2. Decide on a Structure for Your Funeral Speech
There’re two basic approaches to how you can structure a eulogy, you can either follow a chronology, or a mood board.
It will focus on outlining a timeline of events in the deceased’s life, from when and where they were born to the circumstances of their eventual passing. A life is a very long ordeal to sum up in just a few minutes though, so write down significant events you want to mention before you actually write your piece so that you don’t forget to mention something that shouldn’t have been omitted.
Significant events can be anything including a marriage or a fateful encounter with a significant other, the birth of a child, service in the military, etc. Once you’ve written your speech around these events, you can include a brief paragraph that summarizes the different ways in which the deceased managed to enrich the lives of those around them.
These are slightly different. Instead of focusing on a series of events in chronological order, you group anecdotes or significant encounters into different segments depending on how they’d make the audience feel. The passing of a loved one is a decidedly somber and sorrowful occasion, but that doesn’t mean the tone of your eulogy has to be exclusively depressing throughout.
For example, you could start with a note about the many hardships the person in question faced throughout their lives (sorrowful), and transition to how they managed to surmount all of those hardships (uplifting), and end on a comment about how the departed taught us to strive to achieve great things even in the face of overwhelming opposition (hopeful).
If a particular negative section goes on a little too long, you could include a light-hearted anecdote or comment, especially if it is one that’s easy to associate with the memory of the deceased. Structuring your eulogy this way helps you find ways to incorporate elements of relief (such as humor) while still keeping the overall tone respectful, though it does require you to leverage your writing and speaking skills a bit more than a chronology. Speaking of which…
What Do You Say in a Eulogy – Pick Your Words Carefully
Keep in mind that the speech you’re writing is meant to be delivered at a funeral. Most of the time, that means no overly verbose phrases or flowery language, but you’ll know your own situation best. Keeping things as simple and colloquial as possible is usually a good thing; you want to think of the eulogy as a sort of monologue in a conversation between you and the assembly.
However, it’s important to avoid getting too casual with your speech as well, at the risk of sounding crass or inconsiderate. Remember that there are others in the audience who’re facing this with you, and don’t say anything that might potentially offend someone’s sensibilities or cause them pain. This applies especially to the inclusion of humorous anecdotes; while these can provide some much-needed levity, they’re also just as likely to rub people the wrong way when executed poorly or inappropriately.
Another aspect to “picking your words” is including bits and pieces of common and repeated phrases that people might’ve heard from the deceased. These can help lend emotional gravity to your writing, and make it easier for the assembly to connect to what you’re saying.
Make Sure Your Address Is Appropriate for your Station
A husband or wife delivering a eulogy in honor of their partner, or a child mourning a parent, can speak about just about any subject matter so long as they phrase it appropriately. However, these people may not always feel up to the task of delivering a speech, and may ask someone to step in for them. In cases like these, it is important to respect the difference in standing between the person delivering the speech and the person who asked them to deliver it. The same way, if you’ve been tasked with delivering a eulogy for a friend while their family are in attendance, it’s important that you don’t overstep and say things that upset the family.
Maintain a Positive Disposition (or as much of one as you can)
Once again, the passing of a loved one is a decidedly undesirable event. There’s no two ways to put it, and no way to spin it into a silver lining, that’s just how grief works. Always keep in mind that your eulogy’s main purpose is to help soothe the pain that the most important members of the assembly are feeling. This is why you should be extra mindful of these people and what they need to hear from you, both when you’re writing the eulogy and delivering it.
With speech writing, it’s a matter of picking the exact right words and putting them in exactly the right place, while when speaking, it’s a matter of how you deliver those words. Especially when you’re covering subject matter that’s on the heavier side of things, you should be aware of the people around you and how your words are making them feel. Taking a moment to pause to collect yourself, or to give someone a kind look and a nod of reassurance, can go a long way towards helping them remain strong.
Beyond this, it’s important to balance out the heavier, longer parts of your speech by having briefer, lighter anecdotes in between them. This helps make the speech less emotionally draining as a whole, both for you as a speaker, and everyone present in the assembly.
Don’t Feel Pressured
This applies especially to people who aren’t used to giving addresses, especially during difficult times. You might find yourself getting crushed under the weight of the immense responsibility that’s been placed on you.
Nobody’s a “pro” at delivering eulogies, and even if experience were abundant (which it isn’t), no amount of practice can help prepare a person for events when they lose someone important to them.So if you find yourself getting emotional while writing your speech, or you feel like you can’t do justice to the task, be sure to remind yourself that you’re grieving too, and that nothing takes precedent over that.
Focus on your emotions regarding the deceased, and try to use those emotions as the basis for your speech rather than adherence to a guide. Don’t try to seek out the perfect words, that’s not what a eulogy is for, and it could take you more time to find these words than you have on hand.
Eulogy Speech Writing Services Can Help Put Your Emotions into Words
We understand that grief is a slow, arduous process, and one that can’t be rushed. If you’re having a rough go at things in the wake of someone’s passing, we can help you find the right words, or at least a worthwhile substitute.
If you’d like to know more about our speech writing services, please give us a call at 1-877-897-1725 or start chatting with our representative today.