The death of a loved one is a stressful and emotional time. Dealing with the loss under normal circumstances is difficult enough. However, adding the extra task of giving the eulogy is particularly challenging.
It is a definite possibility that your emotions will come to the surface during your speech. Don’t fret it; it’s normal and even expected.
You are dealing with a sympathetic audience. They will not be shocked if you get emotional. In fact, they will probably expect it. Understand that the people in the room are grieving the loss of a loved one and that you are one of them. If you have a tough spot or two, just pause and take a do-over. All that matters is that you say what you need to say.
Once you understand that you are a welcomed part of the service, you can get through the experience by keeping in mind these four tips:
- Rehearse a lot. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel with the words you are expressing. Repetition removes emotion. It also will make you more confident in delivering your message and that relieves additional stress.
- Keep eye contact to a minimum. If you are particularly concerned about maintaining your composure, consider avoiding eye contact with the audience. There will be guests that will react emotionally to parts of your message or just to the funeral itself. Emotion is contagious. Instead of looking the guests in the eyes, try to look just above the audience or just at the audience as a whole.
- Speak slowly. During your speech, there will be some parts that will evoke emotion more than others. If you are concentrating on the flow of your speech, you will not be thinking as much about the emotionally charged parts of your speech.
- Have a backup speaker lined up. There are two reasons for this. It is possible that you could get caught up in the emotion of the occasion and just not be able to finish. It is important to be able to complete the eulogy you worked so hard to put together. In addition, knowing that there is a backup, will give you confidence and ease some stress. You know it isn’t all on your shoulders and that may provide you enough security to help you get through.
Dealing with emotions is normal when giving a eulogy. Do not let it scare you from the job. When the guests see you dealing with the same grief that they are, they will feel connected to you and the eulogy.