Preparing a funeral eulogy

A good starting point for the preparation of your eulogy is to set out the milestones of the deceased person’s life.

Once you have this outline structure you can then start to gather the facts and information that will allow you to decide what you are going to concentrate on in your speech.

Gather the facts and information

You will be able to gather the necessary information and detail about the deceased by speaking to their family and close friends. Other appropriate people, such as ex work colleagues, will be able to supply alternative insights and a different perspective.

  • The information that you may find useful to compile includes:
  • – Parents, siblings
  • – Early childhood
  • – Education
  • – Family and friends
  • – Places lived
  • – Work/ career
  • – Special events
  • – Special accomplishments
  • – Hobbies and activities
  • – Favourite readings, books, poems
  • – Personal reminiscences, stores, anecdotes, jokes
  • – Characteristics, traits, qualities, foibles
  • – Preferences including likes and dislikes
  • – Typical behaviour, sayings, turns of phrase, nicknames.

Decide on a theme

We recommend that you choose a theme for the speech. This will give it a definite and logical structure.

Possible themes include a chronological narrative, a specific focus, a personal outlook or even a collection of the person’s favourite poems or thoughts.

A chronological narrative is often a good one to choose as it is easy for the audience to follow. However, do avoid simply listing dates and facts as this can quickly become dull and unemotional.

Focus on the unusual or different

The format is much more successful when the focus is on those aspects that made the person’s life unusual or different. This is particularly so if a side of the deceased’s life is revealed that may not be familiar to everyone present.

Make the speech logical and concise

Whatever theme you choose, you must make sure the speech is logical and concise. Most importantly, avoid references that won’t be familiar to most of your audience.

Draft the speech

A useful tip is to divide the speech into three; beginning, middle and ending. Start by drafting the middle part as this is where you will have most content.

The beginning

As there may well be people attending who do not know who you are, a good way to start is by introducing yourself. You should also recognise the honour of being asked to make the speech.

The middle

The content of the middle section will depend on the theme you decide to use. However, there are some guidelines that you may find helpful:

1. Try and touch upon the essence of the person.

Remember the way they lived their life, their values and their enthusiasms. Mark up the impact they made on the lives Lasting Post provides advice on all aspects of a death including the funeral, probate, bereavement and planning ahead of others. Include examples of small kindnesses and generosity.

Describe and celebrate the person’s character, their spirit and personality. In short, explain what made them tick as a person.

2. Acknowledge the deceased in an honest and loving way.

If possible, you should avoid references to controversial or difficult subjects. A funeral speech is not a confession. If you think that a negative statement is unavoidable then try and put a positive spin on it, for example, “he struggled with his demons and they sometimes got the better of him.”

3. Tell stories that bring the person to life.

You should share happy and touching memories and remember the poignant or funny moments. Include recollections and anecdotes of friends and family.

4. Use humour.

Humorous qualities, funny anecdotes, an expression or a mannerism will be appreciated and will help relax the audience and involve them emotionally in your speech.

5. Highlight and share the person’s accomplishments in the different areas of their life.

Draw attention to a special skill, capability or achievement. This need not just be the successes but could be, for example, how they met a difficult challenge with courage and dignity.

6. Refer to the person’s immediate family and explain what they meant to them.

7. Focus on the person’s life and not their death.

The funeral speech is an opportunity to focus on the better times and the happy memories. This is particularly important when the person suffered ill health latterly.

8. A good way to finish this middle section is to dwell on the person’s legacy.

This could be their children, how their life changed other people’s lives, a particular project or something worthwhile.

The ending

The ending of the speech is crucial and should be drafted carefully.

The most effective conclusion will be short, thoughtful yet uplifting and positive. Your choice will be personal but you may want to consider a final thought, a favourite reading or a poem.

Please note

The information which we provide through Lasting Post is in outline for information or educational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a solicitor, accountant or other professional adviser. We cannot guarantee that information provided by Lasting Post will meet your individual needs, as this will very much depend on your individual circumstances. You should therefore use the information only as a starting point for your enquiries.