Eulogies

I have been to many funerals, some "good" ones, many half-hearted affairs. I say half-hearted in that no one from the family stood up and said anything. Too often a mishmash of highlights and notes from a person's life is delivered by a priest or non-religious person. It is not easy to stand in front of people and talk, even harder when it is about a recently deceased individual - someone close to us. The impact of doing so is great though. Only those that know the person can flavour the speech in a way that has resonance.

Writing and speaking are two different arts. We tend to remember key points only, so less is more. 600 words can take five minutes to deliver, maybe longer where pauses are needed. We may decide to choose small elements of someone's life rather than try to distil years of living into five to ten minutes. A few poignant commentaries can say a lot more than indistinct ramblings.

Preparation is key. Some can speak off the cuff, no notes, no pre-written text. However, I doubt the majority will accomplish a good address without writing a eulogy, editing it and refining it. When the sentences are too long or poorly laid out it can be difficult to say what you want with lots of people all looking at you. I would recommend writing it all down, line by line and making it easy to read out.

I want to thank you for coming.

That thankyou comes from all of the family.

Mum would have been amazed to see so many here today.

----.

----.

There is a temptation to go off script. The more you deviate, the more likely you will run into difficulties. The preparation may be a few hours of work, which can seem a lot for something delivered in a few minutes. However, the memory of the effort fades to nothing and it feels well worthwhile after. Make no mistake about it, it is worth the trouble.

A well composed eulogy can be handed over to someone else on standby if you well up and can't make it through to the end. An attempt is not a failure. A failure to try is more of a failure.

I espouse a simple idea: "I'll say what I want to say with the words of my choosing and allow others to do the same. " The content of your input to the funeral service is yours to choose. The presumption may be that it is mainly about the person that has passed away rather than you yourself. I have used the life is a game theme. Taking a football match with the segments and talking about the persons early life, then the half-time followed by the resulting score. Do we need to be afraid that what we say may not go down well? The impact of what you say is lessened if you read it out to relatives prior, so maybe a read through with an outside party can give you reassurance that it is fine.

Whatever happens, I feel that those attending a funeral will appreciate the courage you had to say something from your own mouth irrespective of the finesse you gave it. A professional delivery is not expected, a heartfelt one might be.

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