Planning in Advance
When a Death Has Occurred
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by: Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt
The thought of writing a speech and presenting it in public makes many people anxious. Set aside your fears for now. You can do this. Focus on the person who died and the gift you will be giving to all of those who know and loved him or her.
Before you start writing go for a long walk or drive and think about the life of the person who died. This will help you collect your thoughts and focus on writing the eulogy.
Spend half an hour (longer if you wish), writing down all of the thoughts, ideas and memories that come to you.
Flipping through photo albums may remind you of important qualities and memories of the person who died.
Your eulogy doesn't have to cover every aspect of this person's life. In fact, often the best eulogies are those that focus on the eulogy-giver's personal thoughts and memories. Do try to acknowledge those who were closest to the person who died as well as important achievements in this person's life, but don't feel obligated to provide an exhaustive biography.
A good way to include others in the ceremony is to ask them to share thoughts and memories which you can then incorporate into the eulogy.
Once you've brainstormed and collected memories, it's time to write the first draft. Go somewhere quiet and write it all in one sitting, start to finish. Don't worry about getting it perfect for now - just get it down on paper.
If time allows, let your eulogy draft sit for a few hours or a day before revising.
Have someone else - preferably someone who was close to the person who died - read over your draft at this point. This person can make revision suggestions and help you avoid inadvertently saying something that might offend others.
Read over your first draft. Look for awkward phrases or stiff wording. Improve the transitions from paragraph to paragraph or thought to thought. Find adjectives and verbs that really capture the essence of the person who has died.
Now you need to present your eulogy. You may well feel nervous, but if you can keep your focus on the person who died instead of your own feelings, you'll loosen up. If you break down as you're talking, that's OK. Everyone will understand. Just stop for a few seconds, collect your self and continue.
It's very important that you speak clearly and loudly so that everyone can hear you.
If you have any further questions or would like to receive a book written on giving Eulogies, please ask us for "Goodnight Sweet Prince."