You have been given the task of capturing the contribution and significance of a person’s life in just a few minutes. Preparation is the most important part of writing a tribute. If you prepare well and take on some of these funeral tribute ideas then you will warm to the task. It is important to remember that it is an honour and privilege to be invited.
It is important to know how to write a tribute speech but it is just as important to speak from the heart. Choose your words carefully and if you are uncertain about anything then run it by one or more people that you trust to get their opinion. A good principle is to discard anything that may cause distress. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.
Before you start to write, put some context around your relationship with the deceased. Context in some respects will determine your eulogy format.
- Representing the family?
- If so, are you the family spokesperson or will there be other speakers? If there are other speakers, liaise with them so each of you address different aspects of the deceased’s life.
- If you are speaking as a family representative then you may need to research lots of information about the deceased’s birthplace, their formative years, where they were educated and the career they chose and how they met their spouse or partner.
- If you are speaking as a work colleague or friend, think carefully about the tone.
A funeral service is a solemn and respectful occasion. However, if your relationship with the deceased was punctuated by humour and lighter moments then both, when used respectfully and appropriately, may give some insights into the deceased’s life and personality that might otherwise go unsaid. If you’re unsure of the appropriateness of your comments then it’s probably best not to include them. A funeral service is not the time to test your material.
How to Formulate an Introduction and a Central Theme
Introduce yourself and explain your relationship to the deceased. Then, in the ensuing three to five minutes, which is a general guide as to the length of a eulogy unless requested otherwise, try to celebrate the joys, the deceased’s relationship to the special people in his or her life, some of their achievements and where appropriate some of the challenges. Your role is to try and give the audience as broad an understanding of the deceased as possible. You can use experiences and stories to convey your message.
Some questions that might help you:
- What was it about him or her that you most admired and respected?
- What will be your enduring memory or memories of your time spent together?
- What was it like to be in their company?
- In what ways did they help you, your family or people you know?
The conclusion should be a summary of the deceased’s qualities and their legacy. You may choose some words of comfort for the family and those gathered. Most importantly, speak from the heart. If you prepare your eulogy and provide a genuine heartfelt expression of why the deceased was such an important person in your life and the life of those who knew him or her, it will be reflected when you speak.