Actively participating in a loved one’s funeral or Celebration of Life is not an easy thing to do, and if it is your first time, it can be quite daunting. You may have chosen to read a poem, prose, or even write and deliver the Eulogy (tribute).
Think of it as your way of saying farewell; it is the final gift that you can give. No one will expect you to deliver a flawless speech; they understand the many emotions involved and will be silently willing you on. The most difficult thing is knowing where to start. Each Eulogy is unique; it is personal and there are no rules. Sometimes the process of writing the Eulogy can form a healthy part of the grieving and healing process.
Here are a few tips to help get you started – I hope you find them useful.
Brainstorm. Spend time jotting down the thoughts that come to you easily about the person.
Trigger some memories by looking through old photos and spend some time thinking about what that person meant to you, and what they meant to others.
Talk to other family members and friends to get their thoughts and memories. They will be able to help you fill in details and potential gaps from early years.
Don’t try to do it all. You won’t be able to cover every detail, so focus on your personal thoughts, and perhaps some key life events. What did the deceased enjoy?
Set the tone. The Eulogy can be serious and factual, or it can be light-hearted and conversational. Think about what the deceased would have liked. Some of the best Eulogies include funny stories and favourite sayings, which help alleviate the tension.
Write a draft. Once you’ve done the above, write the first draft. Try and not get distracted – it is easier to write the Eulogy from start to finish. Go somewhere quiet and where you will be inspired. That could be a favourite place for you, or the deceased, the deceased’s home, or your own home. You won’t get it perfect first time –but do get the information down on paper and then read it, re-read it and then read it again until you are happy.
Ask someone’s opinion. Read or send it to someone else and ask for their opinion. They can help tailor the content and make sure that you are not inadvertently saying something that could offend others.
Practice. Read the Eulogy out loud a number of times. Don’t try and memorize it – rather read it in it’s entirety or refer to it as necessary.
Deliver. Deliver the Eulogy with honest, love and from the heart. Everyone will understand that it is a difficult situation and will not be concerned about how well you speak. If you get emotional – take a moment to gather your thoughts, take a deep breath and then continue.
“The song has ended, but the melody lingers on” Irving Berlin