Funerals are incredibly difficult, upsetting and stressful events that unfortunately we generally all have to experience at some point in our lives. The thought of speaking at a funeral, especially in a formal way, can be hugely daunting. You know that everyone will be watching you expectantly, and it can be difficult to judge the tone on the actual day of the event; it may be that the guests of the funeral are looking for some light relief from the pressures of a very formal service and so there is an expectation that you add a small amount of humour into the speech. In the same way, it could be that you need to be incredibly formal in the way in which you deliver your speech, as the family have particularly asked that this tone is retained throughout the service.
There is however a bit of a formula to speech writing, and this formula also applies to writing speeches for funerals. Whilst it may seem a little cold to follow a speech-writing formula for eulogy writing, do remember that the congregation or the audience will be expecting you to cover some basic formalities and will be expecting a particular format of speech to be followed. It is also important to consider just how stressful speaking at a funeral can be – the more you can do to ease this task for yourself, the better.
So, what is that standard funeral speech writing format? Well, nowadays it is usual for one or two paragraphs to be dedicated to the following areas; general opening or introduction, the individual’s early years, their time spent at school and / or their working life, marriage or significant relationships, the individuals hobbies, your own personal memories of the individual, a few closing words.
It may be that you didn’t actually know the individual all that well, and so if this is the case, it makes more sense for you to ask friends and family of the deceased for some of their favourite memories of the individual before you plan your speech. These can then be used in the last section of your speech. Include between 4 and 6 memories. By using other people’s memories, you’ll find that you can relate to the audience a little more.
Furthermore, it is a nice idea to include in the closing words section of your speech a phrase or a lyric that the deceased often used or liked. Something that is poignant and relevant to the situation, and if possible, that is also uplifting. This enables your speech to end on a more positive and celebratory note.