How to Plan and Deliver a Memorable Eulogy

Even though we’d rather not think about it too much, the inevitable truth is that at some stage we are all going to die. Whether this is sudden or after a prolonged illness the loss of a loved one still weighs heavily on us and is very sad. Much easier to attend the memorial service as a respectful guest and let some other friend or family member deliver the eulogy than have to face this daunting task ourselves. The following story of courage reveals a marvelous little strategy that will give you firm direction and support with your eulogy so your emotions complement the heartfelt things you want to say.

I recently attended a funeral service for a kind and gentle family friend who had died unexpectedly from a heart attack. His sudden death left behind a totally shocked family trying to come to terms with it all. Three days later at his memorial service each member of this saddened family had to find the strength to step forward and deliver their personal tributes. Mustering tremendous courage his grief-stricken wife went first with the support of her son and managed to take us on an interesting journey celebrating her husband’s remarkable life.

Then it was the turn of his 22-year old daughter, but emotion overcame her and she began to cry. Her brother tenderly put his hand on her shoulder to encourage her to go on. What was good here, this young woman did not apologise for her crying and rob us of our own need to share in her grief as well. She waited till she had settled a little and did her best to compose herself. Then between her heart-wrenching sobs she began to speak.

When I first got the news of my dad’s passing I was absolutely heart-broken and felt like my world had come to an end. He meant everything to me. The last thing on my mind was what I would say at his funeral service. That same night my uncle phoned me and said, “I’m going to give you a little task. I want you to sit down and thoughtfully write your dad a letter sharing all the things that are in your heart… all the things you would tell him if he were still here with us.”

At this stage she paused and softly said, “Let me read my letter to you.” We sat enthralled as she poured out her deepest feelings about the things she’d penned in this precious letter to her departed father. She shared with this group of close friends and family just how much she loved her dad and all the sacrifices and wonderful things he had done for her in her life. Her letter ended with the words, “I love you so much dad and will miss you a lot.”

Now our tears were flowing freely too. Our spontaneous applause in acknowledgement of such courage said it all.

So let’s summarise exactly what this brave young woman did so your eulogy can reach out and have such a wonderful effect on your listeners too.

First She started by revisiting her initial feelings of loss and sadness on the death of her father.

Second She then allowed us to ‘eavesdrop’ on her little interaction with her uncle as he inspires her to write her letter. These two elements made a wonderful introduction to her heartfelt letter – the body and conclusion of her talk.

Third Now with her letter all planned and written out all she had to do was read it.

Fourth Note that at no stage did she apologise for crying during her talk. At a time of great loss this is as natural as the air we breathe.

So let this brave young woman’s wonderful little strategy be a practical inspiration to help you feel safe and say the special things you want to say in your eulogy.