All about Eulogies

Depending on the faith or cultural traditions of the deceased person, funerals in the United Kingdom will normally contain a eulogy or reading about the deceased. This portion of the ceremony is designed to celebrate the life of the deceased person and pay tribute to them. There are no set rules about the format of this tribute, and it can now be delivered in a number of different ways. Here are some frequently asked questions about eulogies.

Who should give the eulogy?

A eulogy may be delivered by various different people. The organiser of the funeral may ask a close friend or family member to deliver a speech for them. Alternatively, one of these people may request to deliver the eulogy. Delivering a eulogy can be hard for people who knew the deceased well, and some people consider reading at the funeral to be too emotionally demanding. The minister or celebrant may also be asked to deliver the eulogy as part of their service. This option is favoured by some people, as they do not feel that they would be able to deliver a fitting tribute whilst they are still grieving.

A eulogy may also comprise of a number of short pieces that are delivered by different people who were close to the deceased. This can help to highlight different aspects of their personality. It is a good idea for the speaker to practice their eulogy in advance, so that they know how long it will last and how it will sound when it is read out loud. Practicing can also help to reduce the potential for nerves.

What should be included in the eulogy?

There are no strict rules about what should or should not be included in a eulogy. It is normally a celebration of the deceased person’s life, and will therefore include some biographical details. It may be delivered thematically rather than chronologically. The person who will deliver the tribute may wish to ask other friends or family members to share some of their own personal memories to be used as part of the eulogy. This can help to give a more varied picture of the deceased person. Personal anecdotes and memories can help to add gentle humour to the tribute. The minister or celebrant may wish to suggest a time limit for the eulogy so that the service does not overrun.

How can the minister or celebrant deliver an accurate eulogy?

When a deceased person’s loved one is planning their funeral, they are normally given the opportunity to talk to the minister or celebrant who will be leading the ceremony. In order to lead the ceremony, the minister or celebrant should take some time to understand the life of the deceased person. Most celebrants and ministers know how to get loved ones to open up to them and share personal anecdotes about the deceased. Hearing these stories should help them to create a realistic portrait of the deceased person.

Does a eulogy have to be read live?

No! As long as the technology is available, a eulogy can be delivered in a number of different ways. Some readers may struggle to stand up and speak in front of an audience, but they still wish to deliver a tribute. If you want to deliver a fitting eulogy to a loved one, but you are scared about speaking in front of a large group, you may be able to record a speech and then play it back at the ceremony. A recorded eulogy may also be delivered by someone who cannot be physically present at the ceremony. Alternatively, this person may be able to deliver their eulogy via video link-up (over Skype etc).

Should there be a back-up plan?

When a person decides to give a eulogy, they may feel as though they are prepared to deliver a reading in front of the congregation. However, their emotions may take over on the day of the funeral. Likewise, if the person who is select to read the eulogy cannot make it to the funeral for unexpected reasons, someone else may need to take over. It is a good idea to for the minister or celebrant to have a tribute prepared in case they are required to take over at the last minute. If you have any concerns about this happening during the funeral, you should speak to your minister or celebrant in advent.

Is a eulogy always spoken word?

Most eulogies which are performed in the United Kingdom are spoken word pieces; however people are able to pay tribute in alternative forms if they want to. Alternatives to traditional spoken word eulogies include; picture slideshows, pre-recorded videos and special songs for the deceased. The aim of a eulogy/tribute is to highlight major points in the person’s life; so many different formats are acceptable.