A eulogy...thoughts on how to do it well
A eulogy...thoughts on how to do it well by Kristina Kennedy-Aguero
A eulogy is a great honour to be asked to write and read. It is a unique opportunity to present and express your own sentiments and memories of a departed loved one and those of others.
Preparing your tribute
I was surprised and pleased when I was recently asked to write and read the eulogy for my uncle. However, when I began to consider the immensity of the task, I felt a little daunted and unsure. What should I say? How should I present it? Would I choke up halfway through?
The idea of a eulogy is to briefly detail the life of the deceased. Even close friends may not know about some periods of a person's life. So, first, I set out to order the most important parts of my uncle's long and interesting life.
To do this I sat down and chatted with his wife and her sister who gave me lots of important factual details. We also enjoyed looking through old photos, some of which portrayed my uncle in a light that I had never experienced him in.
I also asked my cousins, to contribute anything that they would like me to include. And, little by little the eulogy began to take shape.
Writing a eulogy
As a professional writer I am, obviously, used to writing. However, writing this eulogy required me to use all of my skills. I wanted to make it interesting and informative. To include personal experiences and just a touch of humour and to capture the essence of a very special man.
So, I began to write and soon found myself immersed in the marvellous history of a charming person. Then, I had to edit, it was way too long!
Eventually, I felt pleased to have achieved the length and balance I was looking for.
I sent a copy to my uncle's widow to make sure that all the information was correct and that she liked the way I had presented my uncle's story. A couple of factual corrections were made, but she was delighted with my effort.
Reading a eulogy
I printed off the final version of the eulogy in large type with clear spacing to make the presentation easier. I read and re-read it out loud on several occasions. Also, I timed it to make sure that it was a reasonable length. Usually, around 10-minutes is the norm.
I was fortunate to be able to do a practice run in the church the day before the funeral. If you are able to do this it's a great help in calming the nerves and testing the acoustics.
Remember these points
Familiarise yourself with the program of service so that you know exactly when you will be required to read the eulogy.
Think about where to sit so that you can easily reach the pulpit or wherever you are to present from.
Take your time to look at your audience and familiarise yourself with where those who you mention by name in the eulogy are seated. When you say their name, look up and direct your gaze toward them. In this way, others know who you are talking about.
Speak slowly and clearly. Take pauses. Breathe deeply and keep calm.
After the presentation
At the reception after the funeral, I was delighted to receive the compliments of many people on my eulogy. I felt so pleased to have contributed in this way to make the send-off for my uncle special.
I am honoured to have written and spoken the eulogy of "A Perfect Gentleman", the words that started my presentation and that are engraved on his tombstone.