What A Eulogy Should Accomplish
Many people believe that a eulogy is an objective summaary of the deceased person's life. However, this is not really true. Believe it or not a eulogy is much more simple than that.. Yes, a eulogy includes biographical information, but more than anything it should relay and express the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the person giving the eulogy for the loved one. The most loving, touching, memorable, and meaningful eulogies are written subjectively from the heart by the person deliverying the speech.
In addition, a eulogy doesn't have to be perfect. Many people freeze before even getting started because they are worried about it being perfect.. You need to understand that whatever you write will be much appreciated by all. So lower your expectations, don't be self-conscious, and write what you can. Everyone knows you didn't have much time to prepare and you are emotionally distraught. They are, too.
When you set out to write a eulogy, ask friends and relatives for their recollections and, especially their stories. In a eulogy, it is perfectly acceptable to say, for example, "I was talking to Uncle Lenny about Ron. He reminded me of the time Ron came to Thanksgiving dinner with half of his face clean-shaven and the other half fully-bearded. It was Ron's unique way of showing he had mixed feelings about shaving off his beard."
Be honest. For most people who are being eulogized, there are a lot of positive qualities to talk about. Occasionally a eulogy has to be given for someone who was very negative. The solution is omission. A eulogy is not a confession. No one will find fault if you leave out details. Talk about positive qualities and, if you must mention the negative, put a compassionate spin on it; e.g., "She struggled with her demons and they sometimes got the best of her."
Writing a eulogy may be one of the hardest and most important things that you will ever have to do. Understand that this is a tremendously challenging task for anyone person emotionally. It's important to take some time to yourself to gain your composure if you are feeling overwhelmed.
If you've been asked to deliver the eulogy, then it probably means that you had some importance in the person's life and it is your responsibility to honor and pay final respects to them. Although, eulogies have traditionally been given to honor and pay respects to the deceased, you shouldn't feel restricted in what you want to say in your speech. As long as you deliver a speech that honors and pays respect to the person that died, then you have accomplished your task.
People often will find that the most difficult parts may be both the beginning and end of the eulogy. This is an important time to use a the same strategies that writers use to overcome their writers block. Begin writing down everything that comes to your mind. Let your mind free associate your thoughts and copy them down as quickly as possible. Obviously, this will need to be organized and edited, however, the important thing is to get your ideas on paper.
This can be an effective strategy to begin writing the eulogy for your friend or family member. Many people like to begin with a funeral poem, quotation, or story. Make sure that when you use a funeral poem in your eulogy that it relates to the story point that you want to make about the deceased. It doesn't make much sense to use a random poem or quote just to use one. Carefully choose the proper one for your particular situation.
Once you have written your speech, then it is important to practice it. Practice it out loud and in the mirror. Practice your timing. Practice enunciation. Practice your volume and inflection. You will want to rehearse several times. You do not need to memorize your speech, however, you should feel very comfortable with it.
We never recommend that you try to memorize your thoughts. It is more than okay to use note cards or paper. While you don't want to have to read word for word from your notes, remember that it's okay if you do. Everybody understands how emotionally difficult this task is for you to perform. It's not a professional presentation to colleagues. You are paying last respects to the person that everyone is their to honor.
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