What to Say in a Funeral or Memorial Speech | Eulogy

Fear of Public Speaking

  • Public speaking and death are the top two fears that people have. We combine both at funeral and memorial services!
  • Don’t let fear stop you from contributing. We can always find a comfortable way for everyone to participate in honoring a loved one.
  • It’s completely understandable if you want to contribute but just can’t bring yourself to speak in front of others.
  • Sometimes, a person can’t speak at the service not because they are afraid to do so but because they are so heartbroken they can’t speak.
  • No one is going to judge you for choosing not to speak or asking someone else to speak on your behalf.
  • You can always ask someone else if they can speak for you.
    • Another family member
    • Friend
    • Pastor
    • Death doula
    • Funeral director
  • If you want to speak yourself, but think you’ll be too emotional the day of you can make a video and have it played during the service, depending on technology capabilities of the location.

Categories & Topics of Things to Talk About

  • Quotes 
  • Poems 
  • Verses and readings from religious texts 
  • Storytelling & memories 

Quotes & Poems

  • Can help you get started with what you want to say
  • Can be used at the end of what you want to say to help summarize 
  • Can be the only thing you read. It doesn’t have to be attached to a story or memory. 
  • Keep them short 
  • Google searches to find quotes/poems 
  • Can come from movies, books, etc. 
  • Something from your loved ones favorite book/movie. 
  • If you’re loved one has a copy of the text, flip through to see if anything is highlighted. This may indicate a favorite quote of theirs. 
  • Quote doesn’t have to be about life or death. 
    • Hope 
    • Love 
    • Community 
    • Impermanence 
    • Grief 
    • Comfort 
    • Healing 
    • Something the person loved. Their passion or favorite activity. 
    • Nature 
    • Common Signs from the decedent. Birds, butterflies, feathers. 
    • Something that expressed the character of the person or something they value
    • Art By: Morena Forza

Verses & Readings From Religious Texts. 

  • Can help you get started with what you want to say
  • Can be used at the end of what you want to say to help summarize 
  • Can be the only thing you read. It doesn’t have to be attached to a story or memory. 
  • Keep them short 
  • Google searches 
  • If you’re loved one has a copy of the text, flip through to see if anything is highlighted. This may indicate a favorite passage of theirs. 
  • doesn’t have to be about life or death. 
    • Hope 
    • Love 
    • Community 
    • Impermanence
    • Grief 
    • Comfort 
    • Healing 
    • Something that expressed the character of the person or something they value
  • The verse, passage, reading should reflect the beliefs of the deceased person. This is not the time to express your own beliefs. 
  • It might be a good idea to stay away from using religious texts if you personally don’t follow the religion because it can come off as disingenuous or you may take the short verse out of context and it could ultimately be offensive. 
  • Be mindful of the tone used in delivery. If you sound like you’re preaching, trying to convert or judging others for their beliefs it will come off as hurtful and offensive to family and friends who do not share those same beliefs. 

Storytelling & Memories 

  • In the moment it can be difficult to recall memories. Here are some ideas to get you started. 
  • Memories don’t have to be big. 
  • Sometimes it’s the smaller moments that make for the best sharing. 
  • You can ask other friends and family members if they have memories/ stories of you and your loved one. 
  • Looking through pictures or loved ones belongings can help spark memories 

Gratitude

  • How did this person help you?
  • What did this person teach you?
  • How did this person change your life?

General Stories 

  • Did something happen or was there an unusual event that put your loved one in the newspaper?
    • Help with a community tragedy ?
  • Retell a story your loved one told you from their own life. Such as a childhood memory. 
  • Did this person have any endearing quirks that you can talk about in a loving way?

Embarrassing Stories 

  • Do you have a light hearted event where this person helped you out of a sticky situation?
  • If your loved one was a parent figure did you do something to get into trouble with them?
    • Is there something that happened when you were a child that was embarrassing then but is a funny story now as an adult ? 
  • Never tell a story that would embarrass the deceased or another family member/friend. always make sure you’re the one at the center of the embarrassment for these stories. 


Your Favorites

  • Toys (if this person was parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle) & gifts 
    • from deceased 
    • That you played with at their home. 
  • Objects & possessions belonging to loved one 
  • Rooms & places in their home 
    • What did you like to do at their house?

Favorites & Likes of Your Loved One

  • Objects and possessions 
  • Activities 
  • Passions 
  • Rooms & places in the home. 
    • Favorite chair 
  • Animal 
  • Color 

Your Loved One’s Dislikes

  • This can offer comic relief if your loved one was vocal with others about their dislikes. 

Activities 

  • How did you spend time with your loved one?
  • What were their hobbies?
  • What did they do for a living? 

Loved One’s Character 

  • How did they help/contribute to the  community? 
  • How were they helpful to others?
  • What did this person teach you?
    • Skills they passed on to you?
    • What did they teach{ about life?
    • What did they teach you about being a loving person? 
  • Traits that stand out to you. 
    • Did you inherit or pick up these traits? 
      • Family traits 
        • Hair texture, eye color, laugh 
      • Attitude/ personality 
      • Like/dislikes 
      • Habits/ routines 

Things You Associate with Your Loved One. 

  • Color
  • Food/taste 
  • Holiday 
  • Scent 
  • Texture
  • Flower
  • Song 
  • Place 
  • Animal 
  • Object/ possession 
    • Car, musical instrument, baseball glove. 
  • Article of clothing they were known for wearing? Something they always wore. 
    • Hat, watch, lipstick, earrings. 

When Words Fail 

  • Even after all of these ideas to help jump start you sometimes words fail 
  • It can be hard to put things into words and sometimes words just don’t run deep enough. 
    • I think we can sometimes have a more tactile relationship with someone like a grandparent where we might not have many shared memories but we remember being held and nurtured by them and sometimes words just can’t express that type of relationship. 
  • You can still participate!
    • If you are able and comfortable you could speak on someone else’s behalf and read their eulogy or speech for them. 
    • Submit photos for slide show presentations. After all a picture is worth 1,000 words! 
    • If you’re a musician you could sing or play a song that is healing, comforting or meaningful to your loved one. Hymns and other religious music might also be an option.
    • If an artist, you could draw/paint a picture for the obituary cards, or service programs.
      • Memorial Art to be displayed during the service. 
  • Above all else, know that just being present is enough to honor your loved one. 
    • You don’t have to be physically present
    • Present can mean honoring by holding space and just thinking of that person. 
    • Present can also mean that you are just available to listen to others speak about your loved one. 

Tips to Deliver Your Memories. 

  • Keep it short 6-7 minutes.
  • Write it down
    • Helps to organize your thoughts 
    • Someone else can read it for you if you can’t
      • It might be easier to speak at home, alone than on the day of the service. 
      • At the service your empathy naturally kicks in. 
      • You may think that you’ll be able to speak yourself but sometimes in the moment you become unable to do so. 
      • You can try again later, come back to you 
      • You can hand it off to someone else to read for you. 
  • It doesn’t have to be formal. The language can be conversational. 
  • If you are not introduced before you speak 
    • Introduce yourself
    • Your relationship to the deceased 
    • Your relationship to the family. 
  • Practice before hand. 
    • Hearing yourself read it Aloud can help you adjust tone or word usage if it might come off offensive of inappropriate 
    • Ask for feedback from others if your not sure something is appropriate
  • Know that if you should get emotional during the speech it’s okay. 
    • Just stop, take a deep breath and gather yourself. 
    • Take a few moments if you need too. 
    • No one is judging you if need to pause. 
    • Take your time, everyone will wait for you. 

Donate

Through donations I am able to offer supplies and materials for humans in need at no cost. Candles for vigils, supplies for home funerals and memory making memorial services. For my time to record free educational materials. Our community greatly appreciates your contributions.

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