If you are wondering how to give a eulogy, we’ve gathered a list of tips based on real life experience that will help you prepare.
Public speaking is hard. Losing a loved one is harder. If you couple the two, it’s clear that giving a eulogy is no simple task. Just remember that this isn’t a speech-giving contest. Your eulogy should come from your heart. No one expects perfection. As long as you do your best under the circumstances, you should feel good about being brave enough to give this speech. Navigating the world without your loved one is difficult, but giving a eulogy will pay tribute to them and to the legacy they leave behind.
The thought of standing in front of a crowd to speak during this period of emotional turmoil can feel overwhelming. It’s understandable to be nervous about delivering the eulogy. But just know that you are not alone and you have support from friends and family.
It’s important to keep in mind that giving a eulogy is a special opportunity to commemorate your loved one. For some, it can even be a step in the healing process. It allows you to reflect on your relationship with them and your memories of them. You can use this chance to give your loved one a final send-off which honors them.
It may also help others begin their healing process as well. Through hearing your words and stories, they will be reminded of the goodness and love left behind by the deceased. Even though your loved one is gone, by giving a memorable eulogy you will ensure they are not forgotten.
Of course, you have endless memories of whoever you are writing the eulogy about, and they have undoubtedly taught you many important lessons in life. However, putting these to paper in a way which flows smoothly as a speech can be challenging but is necessary. To be honest, there is no way to predict what your mindset will be while you stand in front of everyone. That’s why it’s crucial to have your funeral speech written out with you to rely on if need be.
Generally, it’s a good idea to have the entire speech written out beforehand to give you a solid grasp of what you’ll be saying. For the actual delivery, some find it more helpful to organize their speech into bullet points so that they can easily glance down and remember what they should say next. Some like to strictly read from the paper. Others speak best by meeting somewhere between the two strategies.
If you’re not sure which would be best for you, you can always come prepared with both (a word-for-word speech and a bullet point list of topics). Remember that staying on script isn’t 100% necessary, but can help keep you grounded if you begin losing your place or getting distracted.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to deliver your eulogy perfectly because the nature of this speech is that it’s packed with emotion. However, you should still practice what you want to say and how you want to say it to be as prepared as possible. Practicing will help you feel more confident when it’s time to stand in front of everyone.
While practicing, you can ask close friends and family members if they would listen to you read your eulogy. This will help you become used to feeling eyes on you while you speak. You could also read in front of a mirror, and try to notice any major nervous ticks such as playing with your hair or wringing your hands.
Lastly, if you’re worried about your speed or tone, you can make an audio recording of yourself reading. You can listen and adjust certain parts of your speech based on where you think you should slow down or pause. It’s helpful to write these notes into your speech, such as "pause here" or "slow down."
You may be wondering if it’s appropriate to incorporate humor into your eulogy. The answer to this is: it depends. During the speech, some are simply too struck with grief to express humor. This is absolutely fine. For others, they find a bit of humor reflects the personality of the deceased. If your loved one had a great sense of humor, then it’s quite fitting to include their style of humor or maybe one of their jokes or pranks
This can also act to ease the tension at a funeral. While deciding whether or not humor is fitting for the eulogy you will give, think about how your loved one would want to be remembered. Sometimes adding this element can make the eulogy more heartfelt and sincere. Remember, a eulogy is all about celebrating the mark your loved one left on this world. So, if they would have wanted humor, don’t hesitate to use it.
Generally, a eulogy speech lasts about 5 to 10 minutes. However, this can vary depending on the length of the ceremony, how many speakers there are, or what you feel is fitting for the atmosphere. It’s a good idea to discuss these details beforehand with whoever is coordinating the funeral.
But there is a caveat. If, while you are speaking, you feel you’ve said enough in less time, don’t stress about it. On the flip side, if you find yourself wanting to share something coming from the heart that takes a bit longer, go for it. Do not rush. Take your time. This is your chance to honor your loved one. Do so for as long as feels right to you while considering general time constraints.
Mourning the loss of a loved one comes in waves. For some, these waves might hit you while you are standing before everyone giving your eulogy. This is normal, common, and often unpredictable. Because of this, you should be prepared for how to react if a pang of grief strikes you.
If this happens, take a few moments to feel the emotion. There is nothing wrong with that because you are human, not a robot. Make sure you have some tissues with you. Try to compose yourself as much as possible. Breathe in and out. Find a friendly face in the crowd. Breathe again, and do your best to carry on with your speech.
On the other hand, some people worry that they can’t cry and they will come across as uncaring. It is perfectly normal not to be able to cry too. The shock of grief can make you totally numb and it may take weeks or even months before you are able to cry. Just remember you are among friends and family.
While delivering the speech, you should try to look out into the crowd while you remember your loved one. If you’re able to, make eye contact with the closest rows of people because they are the close family of the departed. But, if you find yourself struggling with this due to anxiety, you can choose a person who feels reassuring to you in the audience. Look for someone who is holding your gaze and is engaged in what you’re saying.
It’s absolutely understandable if you think you may need someone to stand with you for comfort while you speak. If so, you could ask someone to either stand with you the entire time, or to sit in the audience in a location where they could easily join you if they see you getting emotional. It’s also an option to speak to someone beforehand, and ask if they would assist you with finishing your eulogy if you feel you might be unable to continue.
Again, do your best, but if it comes to letting someone help you, everyone will understand.
Public speaking is generally nerve-wracking because all eyes are on you. However, the reassuring thing about giving a eulogy is that every single member of the crowd is there for the common purpose of remembering and celebrating their lost loved one. Everyone will appreciate your strength for standing to speak in a time of mourning. No one ever expects a eulogy to be perfectly polished or free from flaws. Everyone knows that they’re full of emotion and therefore don’t always go totally as planned. The only expectation from the audience is that you do your best to memorialize the deceased.
Be proud of yourself. It’s a huge undertaking to give a eulogy and you will remember it for the rest of your life.
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