I just attended a funeral this morning, and a few pointers came to mind while listening to the eulogies presented by family members.
1. Before you get up to speak, remove the chewing gum from your mouth. Understandably, you might be nervous before getting up in front of a group of people to speak. It’s okay to have some gum before you speak to prevent cotton-mouth. But please, please, please, discretely remove gum before giving a eulogy.
2. It’s okay to share funny stories about the deceased that prompt laughter, but use the story to illuminate some endearing aspect of that person’s personality. A story about a humorous situation that sheds no light about the person’s character is better saved for the reception or visitation.
3. Don’t ask a family member to speak at a funeral or memorial service without any advance warning. The gentleman with whom I attended this funeral told me about such an experience at the funeral of his grown son, who died in a motorcycle accident. He was asked to speak with no chance to prepare, and wound up breaking down in front of everyone.
4. While none of today’s speakers were guilty of this crime, remember that a eulogy is not about you. The best eulogy stories relate to the deceased – their character and virtues, their idiosyncrasies and passions. Good eulogy speakers paint a picture of the subject at hand – this loved one who has died.