Often the eulogy is the most remembered and meaningful element of a funeral ceremony.
Also called the homily, the eulogy is a speech that is given that acknowledges the unique life of the person who died and affirms the significance of that life for all who shared it.
Who should deliver the eulogy?
The eulogy can be delivered by a clergy person, a family member or a friend of the person who died. Instead of a traditional eulogy delivered by one person, you may choose to ask several people to speak and share their memories. There is also a growing trend toward having people attending the funeral stand up and share a memory of the person who died. This works well, especially at smaller or less formal gatherings.
What are our different options?
Be creative as you discuss ways to share memories of the person who died. Try to avoid having someone who didn’t really know the person give the eulogy. While some have learned to give excellent, personalized eulogies, other clergy members may speak a few generic words about the person who died or resort to sermonizing about life and death in lieu of personalizing their message. If your family would feel comforted by a religious sermon during the ceremony, by all means, ask a clergy person to give one. Just be sure to have someone else (or several people) deliver a personalized eulogy in addition to the sermon.
How do we prepare for the eulogy?
If the person who will be delivering the eulogy didn’t really know the person who died, make an effort to share with him or her anecdotes and memories that are important to you. Ask yourself, “What stands out to me about this person’s life? What are some special memories I’d like to share? What were times when I felt particularly close to this person? What were some admirable qualities about this person?”