Delivering a funeral speech can be especially difficult. Few events in life are as emotionally charged as a funeral, so having to speak at one is something that many of us find extremely hard to do.
If you are asked to deliver a eulogy for someone, there's a pretty good chance that you knew that person well and may have been very close to them over the years.
While it may be difficult to write and deliver a funeral speech under these circumstances, there are some tips to keep in mind that will make the entire process a little easier to get through.
When people go to a person's funeral, they want to remember that person as they were when they were still alive.
When you are preparing your eulogy, take time to think about the person. What did you know about them? How did you first meet, and when?
Do you have any special memories of the person that would be appropriate to share with the mixed company at a funeral?
It's important to answer these questions honestly and keep that emphasis throughout your speech.
Friends and family members don't want to hear contrived stories or false flattery - they want you to share genuine, heartfelt recollections. Keep the eulogy honest and respectful.
Every funeral is different. Some families view a funeral as a very solemn, serious occasion, with a tone of quiet respectfulness.
If you believe the funeral at which you're speaking will be such an occasion, you may prefer to avoid making jokes or sharing humorous stories during your speech. Some mourners would see them as inappropriate.
Your eulogy should not detract from the tone that the family and friends of the deceased have set for the funeral.
On the other hand, a solemn speech peppered with a sweet, funny memory of the person you are eulogizing can be very comforting for the funeral guests to hear.
Adding a poem or quote on death might also be a comfort to those close to the departed.
The worst thing that can happen with any kind of speech is that it goes on for too long.
Even if you are a lifelong friend who has lots of memories and stories about the deceased, don't share them all. Be selective and focus on those that most truly and touchingly represent your relationship and the personality of the individual.
This is a good rule of thumb for any type of public speaking engagement. It's hard to gauge exactly how long is too long, but have a canned closing line ready, just in case the body language of your listeners seems to indicate that you may have overrun!
A good funeral speech may be one that you never want to give. It's hard to say goodbye to the special people in our lives. But it's also important to do pay your respects as sincerely and eloquently as possible.
Keep your eulogy honest, of an appropriate length, and in tune with the family's wishes.