No matter what form it might come in, death can be difficult to contemplate. It is the last goodbye and while it can be sad, it’s important you take the chance to celebrate that person’s life. In the UK we are starting to see more people becoming comfortable talking about death but for many, it's still a tough topic to discuss.
From speaking in front of a crowd to writing a speech, being asked to give a eulogy might seem daunting. Yet, with a little preparation now, it could take off some of the pressure and make things a lot easier when the time comes.
What is a eulogy?
A eulogy is a short speech given at a funeral to commemorate a person that has died. Tracing its origins to Greek, the word eulogy roughly translates to ‘speak well of’. Eulogies are where the life of the deceased is both celebrated and commemorated.
Someone who was close with the deceased or knew the deceased intimately could often be asked to give a eulogy. The time allowed depends on the ceremony but a guideline to use in terms of length is no shorter than 3-5 minutes and no longer than 10 minutes. It is a speech on the positive impact that person had.
How to write a eulogy
While there is no one size fits all answer to the question of how to write a eulogy there are a few general tips that you can follow. As it is part of the commemoration of that person’s life, think about the impact that they had on you personally. If you’re looking for inspiration, think about the time that you spent with them. Try to convey in the eulogy why this person meant so much to you.
While nobody is perfect, a eulogy is the chance to remember the good times. There is no need to give every detail of your relationship with that person or even a biography. You could just give some moments that meant a lot to you.
If you are asked to give a eulogy you could also take into account what the person would have wanted. There is a place for humour and lightheartedness but it is up to you. It’s important to factor in that you will be speaking in front of their close friends and family.
Advice for speaking in public
When you’re giving a eulogy you could have to speak in front of a crowd. Whether it is a speech in front of 5 people or 50, the idea of speaking in public can be daunting. If you have been asked to give a eulogy though it’s important to do right by the person that has passed away. Here are some general tips on speaking in public that you could use if you are asked to give a eulogy.
You may only have a few minutes to give the speech but it’s important not to rush things. Taking your time and clearly enunciating everything you have written is much better than rushing. By taking your time you will be giving the speech the significance it deserves.
Make eye contact
To remember everything you have written, you may have put together a few notes. Reading these notes can be a helpful prompt. Yet you don’t want to be reading directly from a sheet. You should always remember to try to keep eye contact with the people at the funeral. This will keep people engaged and will help them focus on what you are saying.
Don’t be afraid to pause
As we have mentioned before, a funeral can be an emotional time and saying goodbye is never easy. People will understand this so if you need to take a pause for a moment you should. In the same way that speaking slowly will give a speech significance, so too could taking a moment to pause.
Make sure to practice
Taking some time for practice is a crucial step in making sure that you are properly prepared. If you are worried about how long it will take you could use a timer. You could also ask a family member or spouse to listen and see how it sounds when you speak it out loud. If you don’t want to practice in front of a family member one option is to stand in front of a mirror.
Prepare with British Seniors
The important thing to remember when giving a eulogy is to just do your best. The death of a loved one is never easy to handle, so all you can do is try your best to honour their memory and celebrate their life. While we can have conversations about death and make preparation it can still be a shock when it arrives. Having some protection in place could help to take away some of the stress and shock that comes with dealing with death.