Eulogies: Do’s and Don’ts
Giving a eulogy is an important responsibility. It is a somber occasion and emotions are running high. It is important to give a positive, uplifting eulogy to stay appropriate to the occasion. If you focus on the positives and avoid the pitfalls, the eulogy will be a blessing to you and friends and family in attendance.
- Pay Respect - This is the time to focus on the positive aspects of the deceased. People attend funerals out of respect – honoring the memory of the deceaded. Stay focused on that when giving your eulogy. Talk about the better qualities of the deceased. However, it is important to be honest. Don’t embellish them. It is uncomfortable to hear things in a eulogy that you know are untrue (good or bad).
- Avoid the Circumstances of the Death - Unless the deceased died in the line of duty or in some heroic manner, it is a good idea to avoid talking about the death. Loved ones want to be reminded of life, not its demise. This will help you avoid the “whys” or the “unfairness” of the death, which can be difficult to bear.
- Tread Lightly with Humor - Humor can be useful and a source of relief at a funeral. However, it is important to be cautious when using it. Many times, humor can be unwelcomed. Some people are offended at any attempt at humor in a funeral, so be sure to keep the audience in mind.
With that in mind, it is a bad idea to tell a joke. Light-hearted memories and humorous stories can be appropriate, but think about everyone that was close to the deceased when deciding what is and is not appropriate.
- Religious Themes - Most of the time, it is a good idea to avoid talk about religion or the afterlife, unless this is what everyone is expecting from you (and is part of the reason you were asked). In other words, play to the family. Seldom is everyone in attendance like-minded in matters of religion. Therefore, it is wise to be careful in this area and be sure not to bring discomfort to the family.
- Inappropriate Memories or Anecdotes - A funeral is not the time or the place to reminisce about wild outings with the deceased or other stories that may not be appreciated by everyone in this somber setting. This is also not a place to air grievances with the deceased or take issue with certain aspects of his or her life. Revealing intimate details about the deceased is also inappropriate. Any anecdote should be considered as if the one eulogized would approve of it.
A eulogy is a precious gift given to the loved ones of the deceased. It is a much appreciated gift when you stay clear of the trouble spots and concentrate on an uplifting and respectful speech.