Besides keeping your mind on the purpose of your funeral speech, here are a few tried-and-true tips for the writing process, as well as the delivery:
- Get all your thoughts down on paper. Collect your own favorite memories of the deceased, as well as memories and stories from family and friends. Get all your dates in order – your loved one’s birthday, date of death, marriage anniversary, date they graduated from college, year they retired, etc. Place your thoughts in the order you want to say them, pick the tone of your eulogy, and write out the rough draft.
- Get input from family and friends. Chances are, you already know someone who has previously given a eulogy. Ask for their thoughts on your funeral speech and what they think you should add or keep out.
- Practice your speech. Stand in front of a mirror and go over your eulogy a few times. Practicing it will give you the chance to not only pick out any errors you’ve made in your rough draft, but also pinpoint any sensitive spots at which you are likely to become emotional.
- Write your final copy. It’s a good idea to pick a support person and make them a copy of the eulogy, too…this way, if at any time during your speech you begin to struggle, they can join you with their copy and help you finish. Also consider making enough copies of your speech for everyone who attends the funeral to take home with them, as a memento.
- Take deep breaths before you begin your speech, and during it. On the day of the funeral, remember that everyone is focused on the person who has passed away and how much they miss them… not on you. Keeping this in mind will help you stay focused if you feel your nerves getting the best of you. When you get to a sensitive spot in your speech at which you know you’ll probably tear up, take some more deep breaths to help clear your mind and heart.
- Look to your support person when needed. If you’ve picked out a support person, have them sit in the front row of the room in which you’ll be speaking. Make sure that you can see them, and that they have a copy of your speech. Make eye contact with them when you need to for encouragement, or just to stabilize your emotions. It may be a good idea to have a secret signal, word or hand gesture that only the two of you know, in case you need them to join you at the mic to help you finish your speech.