What to Say at a Funeral Service
29 SEP 2017
Being asked to speak at a funeral service is an honor, for you are helping eulogize a loved one at a painful time. The point of the speech is to pay tribute to the one who has passed on by talking about who they were as a person, whose lives they touched and what made their life special, and to comfort those left behind by assuring them that they aren't alone in their grief. Since you will be dealing with your own emotions and making decisions can be difficult, review your comments with a friend or a clergyman who has experience officiating funerals.
Talk about what shaped the deceased. Your grandmother living through the Great Depression learned the value of helping each other and that there are more important things than money. A neighbor with a terrific work ethic developed his character because of his distinguished career in the Navy.
Relay your relationship with the deceased and how it shaped you as a person. Talk about how you met him or how you were related to him, the bond you shared and what you learned from him. Pointing out that you loved baking with Aunt Pauline on rainy afternoons and listening to her sound advice reminds others of the good times they had with her in the kitchen.
Review the milestones of her life, like when she married her husband after fearing him dead in the Vietnam War or how he earned a master's degree after overcoming dyslexia and struggling with financial burdens. These points show mourners how the deceased had her tragedies or triumphs in life like everyone else.
What did the deceased leave behind after he died? What mark did he make in the world? Remind his loved ones that the sons he doted on, his wife who was his partner in running their dream business and the charity he founded to help cure heart disease are testaments to the influence he had here on Earth.
Recall what made her special: Did she care for homeless animals? Was he eccentric? Did she break a world record? The point is to emphasize the very qualities that will make the deceased missed.
It's fine to try to make people smile or laugh. Relating happy memories brings relief from grieving. Stick with topics or anecdotes that aren't sensitive subjects. For example, recount the time your cousin Ralph glued his toupee on backwards, but don't make light of when he dove into a pond at a wedding after drinking too much if he had problems with alcohol.