Eulogies are one of the important parts of the memorial service, which is why it is important to learn how to write a speech for a funeral before delivering the eulogy. The family may choose one “eulogist” (the person who delivers the eulogy), or multiple people. Typically it will be some of the immediate family members and a close friend who give a speech at a funeral. Remember that if you have been asked to give a speech at a funeral it is a huge honor.
“The funeral is a time to pay tribute to the person’s life. The eulogy acknowledges the unique life of the person who died and affirms the significance of that life for all who shared it.” according to Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, a noted author and grief counselor. A eulogy serves two purposes; first, it provides the eulogist an opportunity to say goodbye to the deceased and express to everyone at the funeral how much the person meant to him or her. The second purpose of a eulogy is to share information about the deceased with friends and family in attendance. The eulogist can share fond memories and highlight the attributes that made the deceased person special. This gives everyone in attendance an opportunity to reflect on the person’s life and learn more about what type of person he or she was.
How to Write a Speech for a Funeral
1. Select a theme
The first step for learning how to write a speech for a funeral is to decide what type of eulogy you want to write. A eulogy will typically be written with a biographical or personal theme. A biographical theme recounts the life history of the person in chronological order. It discusses the person’s childhood, family, relationships, children, career, interests, and so on. A biographical theme will help people attending the funeral learn more about the life of the deceased person. The other type of eulogy uses a personal theme. A personal theme is more focused on memories that people have of the deceased. It will include biographical information, but the information will be shared using more of a conversational tone. The eulogist will share their favorite memories and may also include favorite memories of family and friends.
2. Collect information
The second step is to collect the information for the eulogy. Spend time reflecting on time you spent with the deceased and write down your favorite memories. Looking through old photo albums will help to trigger memories that you shared and your favorite qualities of the individual. Next, you may want to interview family and friends of the deceased to collect more information that you may not have had. The following topics will help you to collect the information for the eulogy.
- Where was he or she born
- Family information: Parents, brothers and sisters names
- Childhood: location and interests
- Education: high school, post-secondary and any awards/achievements
- Relationships: marriage, divorce and any other significant relationships
- Children: children, grand-children, etc
- Career: positions held, achievements, etc
- Organizations: military service, charities, fraternal and other clubs
- Interests: sports, hobbies, travels, etc
- Other: any other special facts about the person
3. Organize your notes
Now that you have learned how to write a speech for a funeral and what to include it is time to organize your thoughts. You should have multiple pages of notes with information you collected from others and wrote yourself. The next step is to organize the information into an order based on the theme of the eulogy. Write the headings of each section in order and organize the notes under each heading. During this step you can also eliminate any information that you find unnecessary to include in the speech.
4. Write the speech
After you have organized the notes under headings it is time to turn them into properly structured paragraphs. Do not worry about perfecting the speech; the goal of the first draft is to turn the notes into a speech. After you have written the first draft, read through it a few times and cross out any information that is not required. The next step is to focus on fixing spelling and grammar errors. You should now have a well-written speech that you would be happy to read at your loved one’s memorial service.
5. Practice the speech
Now that you have the final copy of your speech it is time to practice it. The goal is to become familiar with the speech and comfortable reading it, but not to memorize it. Read through the speech on your own as many times as you want. It can help to read the speech into a tape recorder to hear how it sounds. Or, read it to a friend or family member. They will be able to give you feedback and suggest changes.
6. Deliver the speech
Print a copy of the speech in a large font and bring it with you to the funeral. Everyone in attendance will understand if you need to refer to the paper during your speech. Also, try not to worry too much about getting emotional during the speech. Friends and family understand how difficult the situation is and will be sympathetic if you get emotional. If you find that you are getting emotional during the speech, pause and take a deep breath then continue. If you are very worried about getting emotional you could provide a friend or family member a copy of the speech and request that they read it on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
You now know how to write a speech for a funeral and it is time to get started. The most important thing to remember is that the friends and family attending the funeral will appreciate any words that you say about the deceased. Think about your favorite memories you shared with your loved one. The eulogy gives you an opportunity to show everyone how much the person meant to you and what qualities made them so special.