In the words of Andrew Motion, "Eulogies are for everyone. They are a reminder that each of us leads a life of special interest and value and that each of us is unique, with our own special gifts."
An effective eulogy does not happen in just a blink of an eye. There are a lot of preparations to be done in order that the eulogy delivery will be effective. From writing the eulogy to the day of delivery, there are several things that should be taken into consideration so that everything will fall into place.
A eulogy is a well-crafted speech, which a person is designated to
prepare and deliver during a funeral ceremony. It is usually read to
commemorate a dearly departed - to celebrate the life spent here on
earth and the memories that go with him. It is not necessary that a
eulogy be a detailed summary of how the deceased person spent his
life, but rather it can concentrate on particular positive
situations or circumstances. Generally, people who are requested to
deliver eulogies are those people who are considered to know best
the deceased person. Therefore, personal experiences are expected to
be re-told and reminisced, and to be shared with other people who
will be listening. The person delivering the eulogy must show the
reasons why the deceased is well-loved and will be missed by the
people around him.
To be given the task of delivering a eulogy is really an honor hence the responsibility of providing a clear and positive picture of the person you will be talking about is in order. Eulogies may be written in various ways. Some people come up with serious speeches honoring the deceased person while others recommended eulogy is a combination of both since death should not be a reason to be sad but a celebration of a life well-lived. Appropriate humorous anecdotes may be interjected to lighten up the feeling of the audience.
One should devote some time in coming up with a well-written eulogy. Adequate preparation must be made to gather biographical facts about the person you will be talking about. In this case, you should confer with the deceased person's other family members so that you can verify as to the exact age, important dates and places, and other personal data that you need to include in the eulogy.
It is wise to develop a theme to give focus on your speech. You may choose to concentrate on a particular aspect of life of the deceased. An example would be, if you and the deceased were co-workers, then talk about how great he performed his job, his dedication to doing his work and his ambition to do well in his chosen career. If you were best friends since high school or college, then talk about the good times you had and how he helped you during those years. Do not try to embellish your story with half-truths or lies. Speak from the heart so that your sincerity will be reflected in your eulogy. Your love for the deceased person must be felt by the people who are listening to your speech.
Organize the materials that you have gathered, pick the data that you will need then prepare an outline. By doing this, you will have an idea of how your eulogy should flow. Draft your eulogy then try to edit and polish your work. Practice delivering your eulogy in front of a mirror or a friend in order that you can see if improvements or additional editing have to be made.
Here are 10 tips for preparing an effective eulogy:
1. Write down all the memories you have of your loved one. These will form the basis of your eulogy.
2. Ask family and friends to share their stories about your loved one. This is a wonderful way to include others as you paint a picture of the person you are honouring.
3. Your eulogy should pay respect to the person who has died. Always remain positive—both about your loved one and about those who are attending the funeral. Focus on their better qualities and remember that this is not the time to relive bad memories.
4. Think of the eulogy as a way to tell a story about the deceased. A simple way to do this is to use the words, "I remember…" Everyone loves to hear a good story and these words will cue your audience to your memories about your loved one.
5. Mention people who were special to your loved one. Your audience will appreciate hearing of the strong relationship that the deceased had with children, a spouse, or with close friends—and it will mean the world to those who are mentioned.
6. Be honest. Share your feelings and experiences about your loved one. Never try to exaggerate or embellish qualities in order to make the deceased seem like "a better person." Stay true to the facts and your feelings for your loved one.
7. It may help to build your eulogy around a theme; a word that best describes the individual, or a hobby or pastime they enjoyed. Examples of themes include, "My father's hands," or "Seasons of life."
8. Don't be embarrassed if you are overcome with emotion during the eulogy. This will be one of the most difficult speeches you will have to deliver during your life. Take a moment to regain your composure, and then continue. Remember that you are dealing with a sympathetic audience. Everyone gathered for the funeral will understand that you may be emotional. No one will judge you.
9. Keep your eulogy brief. Try for a length of between three and five minutes. This will allow you plenty of time to paint a vibrant picture of your loved one.
10. Be inspired by examples of famous eulogies.