When a relative or friend passes away, of course it’s a very sad time for everyone in their circle of relationships. We seem to discover things about them after their passing, such as good deeds they performed anonymously throughout their life. We also remember events, milestones and silly interactions with the deceased that make us smile or laugh. All of these things are valuable tools when called upon to construct a eulogy.
There is a brief moment of terror when asked to deliver a funeral speach. This is a normal reaction as one would experience on any occasion that calls for public speaking. Being called upon to eulogize the deceased is a great honor as you wouldn’t have been asked had you not been an important person in their life. Some feel that funeral speaches are best delivered extemporaneously, but it’s a safer bet to at least have some key points prepared. Start with a brief opening to let the gathering know who you are in relation to the deceased. For example “My name is Jane Doe, and I am Bob’s neice, friend, student and charter member of his fan club.” There should be a brief closing remark as well. This should be something particularly poignant, pointing to his lasting legacy.
Thinking of the departed, point to accomplishments during their life that set them apart. Professional, social, charitable, and family impacts should be highlighted. Think also of some dichotomies in their life, for example, “Though a farmer at heart, his love of poetry made him a true renaissance man.” If there is a favorite poem, reading or scripture, include that also. Humor is permissible and is not irreverent, depending on the life of the deceased. For example, if he was widely known as a prankster, joker, or general bon vivant, you might say “When Bob took the microphone at karaoke night, he never gave it back. He rocked the house the rest of the night.”
The most important thing to remember when giving a funeral speach is the person themselves. If you have been asked to give a eulogy or speach, you are a person who has held a place of honor in the decedent’s life. You are paying a heartfelt tribute and providing a memorable gift to those who are mourning their loss.