Obituaries & Eulogies
Writing an obituary or delivering a meaningful eulogy can be a challenging task for families. Eulogies are personal and will reflect the relationship between the speaker and the deceased. By design obituaries are more informational and less relational than eulogies. Obituaries are typically written by the funeral director in collaboration with the family. The following information will help create each of these tributes.
The purpose of an obituary is to convey to the reader that a person has died, to list members of their immediate family, to share their education, employment history, memberships and interests, and to provide service information. Many families choose to include a recent and/or early photo of the deceased. In addition to being a resource for clergy, obituaries may be published in daily and weekly editions of newspapers and posted on the funeral home’s website and social media. Although there is no additional charge for posting the obituary on the funeral home’s media, most daily newspapers charge by the length. The funeral director is skilled at writing meaningful obituaries that represent the deceased while remaining concise, preventing unnecessary cost.
A eulogy is a meaningful part of many services. Often guests get to know the deceased in a new way through the sharing of experiences by others. This is most effectively achieved when presenters introduce unique insights and stories from different areas and time periods of the deceased’s life. At the heart of a meaningful eulogy is the same thing that makes them difficult to write and deliver – the emotional connection between the speaker and the deceased.
It is an honor to be chosen to give a eulogy. Eulogies can be therapeutic to both the listener and writer. In preparing a eulogy, less is more. Here are some tips for writing and delivering an eloquent, concise and memorable eulogy.
- Organize your thoughts. Jot down your ideas by whatever means are most comfortable to you. Create an outline.
- Write it out. This is not a toast at a wedding where you can make off-the-cuff remarks, and you should not ad lib a eulogy. Writing it all down allows you to include and remember every detail you want to include. When you bring a copy of your eulogy to the podium, make sure it is easy to read. Print it out in a large font or, if it is hand-written, leave a few spaces between the lines. Keep in mind the length of your eulogy; it’s best to keep it on the short side, especially if there are other speakers.
- Review and Revise. Your first draft will not be your last. When you think you are done, sleep on it, and look it over in the morning when your mind is fresh again. That will be the time to make any necessary revisions.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Read over your eulogy several times in order to become familiar with it. Practice in front of a mirror, read it to your friends or family and have them give you feedback. Become familiar with your speech so you can recite it without making it look like you’re reading from a script. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be.
- Make them laugh but be respectful. A funeral is not a roast, however there is room for humor in your eulogy. Fondly remember a story about the person that everyone can relate to. Keep it appropriate to the audience and setting. Laughter is truly the best medicine. Some well-placed humor will help people cope and will bring back fond memories of the deceased.
- Don’t be afraid to show emotion. Funerals are an extremely emotional event. No one expects you not to shed a few tears. However, if you feel that you will be too strongly overcome by your emotions, have a back-up plan in place to have someone you trust deliver the eulogy for you. Give them a copy well in advance if you feel this may be the case.
- Have a glass of water, as well as tissues, handy.