How to write a Eulogy
Introduction to How to Write a Eulogy
Eulogies are generally some sort of a speech given either at or after a funeral. The reason you may wish to give one can be as varied as the content, love, respect, a celebration of life or just because you want to say goodbye.
In many respects Ben Maffin thinks that writing a eulogy is similar to writing a good Best Man speech at a wedding. There are certain simple ground rules which you want to either do or avoid. Of course, once you're on your feet in front of the audience there's nothing stopping you from saying what you like - but bear in mind other people's feelings. It's a lot more gratifying having someone tell you how lovely the speech was, than getting something horrid off your chest.
What to do
Be nice; consider what you are writing as a celebration of the person or the achievements. Think about the audience and the person who has died.
An older person will have a wealth of life behind them with which to draw stories whereas a younger person may not have achieved as much. This is no real obstacle when writing, as although there may be few details in someone's life you have to play with it is likely that they are a loved one or friend so you may wish to talk about your POSITIVE thoughts and feelings.
It is important to type your notes up as it means you can easily amend them and if needs be save them in multiple locations in case of an accident with a spilt cup of coffee.
What not to do
Be bitter. If the circumstances as to the death of the subject are controversial do not mention this. Do not use your speech to get back at anyone or try and have the last laugh. It's just not what a eulogy is for, chances are no one will thank you for it and your triumph will be short lived.
You are likely to be delivering the speech from some sort of dais ideally with a microphone (make sure this is working beforehand)!
The key to a successful delivery for most people is practice. If you've used any long words or those hard to pronounce make sure you've practiced them aloud. Even better, leave them out and go for something else.
There is however no shame in standing in the bathroom going through the speech though you should ALWAYS do it aloud. It is not good enough simply going through it in your head, no matter how much you try and kid yourself.
The Delivery Notes
Normal speeches can be made using ‘cue' cards which have a condensed version of the speech on them. These are not suitable for a eulogy.
Always TYPE up your notes in full, double line spaced and in a large enough font to read from a distance. Remember that you will probably be stressed enough as it is without the added pressure of trying to find your place on a densely compacted narrative, or even worse notes you cannot read.
Do no rush the eulogy. There is never any rush. Take your time walking to the microphone, take your time getting your notes out and pause before starting. I would also look at your audience before starting as well, as it will connect you with them.
Always have three copies of your notes. One inside a jacket pocket, one inside a trouser pocket (or handbag) and one with a member of the audience you are sitting with.
As with all speeches and writing in general the structure is key to successfully communicating what you want to say. Generally everything has a start, middle and an end. This may seem obvious but if you consider how this affects what you need to say and when it is a great help. Sometimes actually getting started is the hardest part of the whole process and having these three ‘idea bins' to pop thoughts into make it a lot easier.
The Eulogy Start
The start of any speech should set the tone of how the rest of the piece is to be delivered. This could include a somber start or even a joke. Just remember to try and get the tone right for the audience you are giving the speech to.
A good starter is stating the facts. Do not be crass, but a simple line about when the death occurred and how tragic it was is an easy way to get into the swing of things. Remember it can take a couple of sentences to get into the swing of a speech and keeping it simple at the beginning will help self confidence. It will also mean that the audience does not have to listen to complicated ideas or stories from the very start. As with the reader, it can take the audience a few moments to tune into what you are saying.
The Eulogy Middle
The middle should be the major part of the eulogy. This is where you get to stretch your metaphorical legs and deliver what you need to say. By this time your easy starter will have got you in the groove and your audience will be listening.
The Eulogy Middle - Breaking it up - Narrative Linking
While the middle can be seen as the largest part of the speech, it is still best to break up the writing into easy, bite sized pieces.
Probably the most logical way of doing this is simple chronology. Most people's thought processes use a simple time line to follow events. A to B to C. Start in the person's early years and progress through. Avoid jumping about from one time to another as this will confuse your audience and probably you as you read it out.
There is nothing wrong in including memories about loved ones who knew the deceased. Some of the best eulogies I have heard have had stories in which the recently passed away were not the primary character. The important aspect is the ability to link the themes and ideas together. For examples, the deceased gets married, the Groom does something funny / serious on the wedding day.
By using other people and linking in this way you will find it will open up a larger wealth of stories and situations which you can talk about.
The Eulogy End
This is the time to wind down the stories and end on a positive note. ALWAYS end on a positive note. Why? Because the end is usually the bit people remember. It is the bit they will have in their minds when you step off the dais and it is the bit they will associate you with.
This means keep it short, to the point and… you guessed it positive.
Many people end on a poem. This is a great idea as long as it is relevant to the person and is not more than a few lines long. Do not use large poems, not matter how good they are. Poems are great read out if you're a professional orator, but the members of the audience are not there to listen to poetry.
Round off the end of the eulogy, pause before leaving (though don't expect an applause) and then step down and return to your seat.
Pulling it All Together
There are very few people who can write a speech in one draft. It usually takes LOTS of drafts and in many ways it is good to take a bit longer. Try and leave the speech for a few days before returning to it with fresh eyes. This way you will be able to see if something does not flow right or make sense. Sometimes it is advisable to read your piece in front of a confidant. This is a matter of personal choice. It can be quite hard to do but excellent practice!
Example Eulogy Used for Grandmother
This is the eulogy I actually used. It is short, simple and the tone was just right for the ‘thanks giving service'. The gentleman who gave a reading just after me also wrote a fantastic (though slightly longer) piece linking in my grandfather and his amusing antics.
On the 13th July, Eileen Hedley, Mother, Grandmother and friend to us all was taken from us.
A eulogy can be defined as speaking highly of someone who has recently deceased.
And where to start?
Anyone who managed to live with me for more than a week was obviously special.
Nan was not a woman to seek reward, rank or high office....if 'humility in each is a necessary qualification' then Eileen had this in abundance...she was every ones friend, never spoke ill of anybody, always considerate, thoughtful (indeed she allowed me to wash the dishes quite a lot when I was little), the voice of reason during heated discussion and of course a bit of a superstar from her appearance on the TV in Songs of praise.
In the latter years of her life my Nan didn't enjoy the best of health, suffering from a variety of problems until she found herself in Arrowe Park hospital for the last time. Yet despite this, she never lost her positive attitude and always wanted to hear what I had been up to.
We have lost a bright star in Nan, but she will be remembered amongst us as a someone who:
And Left the rest to God.
Ben Maffin thinks that writing a eulogy while not fun is a fairly simple affair if you follow a structured approach. It can be enlightening and the reason I have written this is because the eulogy I wrote above gave me a great deal of satisfaction after seeing the smiling faces of those I read it to. It also gave the audience something to consider, as everyone at the funeral had a different memory.
Ben Maffin is a 31 year old entrepreneur who after reading Physiology and then Law in Bristol now lives in Oxton, on the Wirral Peninsula.
Starting his first business (MBL Design Limited) at 23, Ben Maffin is currently a director of three companies all based in the North West of England.
Article Source: ArticlesBase.com