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Eulogies & Obituaries
Giving a meaningful eulogy, or writing an obituary, can be a nerve-wracking situation for even the most accomplished public speaker. We have gathered some resources to help you along the way.
Giving a meaningful, moving eulogy can be a nerve-wracking situation for even the most accomplished public speaker, but it doesn't have to be. How can you summarize somebody’s life in a few short minutes, while being both somber and funny at the same time? Writing and delivering a eulogy is a therapeutic tool to help deal with your grief, and being chosen to give a eulogy is an honour and should be treated that way. Here are some tips for writing and delivering an eloquent and memorable eulogy.
- Gather information. Talk with family members, close friends and co-workers to get important information on the deceased. Some important information to include in the eulogy is the person's family and other close relationships, their education/career, hobbies or special interests, places the person lived or traveled too, and any special accomplishments they had.
- Organize your thoughts. Jot down your ideas by whatever means are most comfortable and familiar to you. Create an outline, and fill in the information that you gathered about the person.
- Write it down. This is not a toast at a wedding where you can make off the cuff remarks, and you should not ad lib a eulogy. Writing it all down allows you to include and remember every detail you wanted. When you bring a copy of your eulogy to the podium, make sure it is easy to read. Print it out in a large font or, if it is hand-written, leave a few spaces between the lines. Keep in mind the length of your eulogy; it’s best to keep things on the short side, especially if there are other speakers.
- Review and Revise. Your first draft will not be your last. When you think you are done, sleep on it, and look it over in the morning when your mind is fresh again. That will be the time to make any necessary revisions.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Read over your eulogy several times in order to become familiar with it. Practice in front of a mirror, read it to your friends or family, and have them give you feedback. The more you practice you have, the more comfortable you will be.
- Make them laugh, but be respectful. A funeral is not a roast, however there may be room for humour in your eulogy. Fondly remember a story about the person that everyone can relate too. Keep it appropriate, as there will be children and the elderly there that may not share the same sense of humour. Laughter can be truly the best medicine, and some well placed humour may help people cope, and will bring back fond memories of the deceased. It is important to note here, that for some families, humour is not necessarily welcome - and that is perfectly acceptable. No one knows your family better than you do. The most important thing to remember is to keep it sincere.
- Don’t be afraid to show emotion. Funerals are an extremely emotional event. Nobody expects you not to shed a few tears. However, if you feel that you will be too strongly overcome by your emotions, have a back-up plan in place to have someone you trust deliver the eulogy for you. Give them a copy well in advance if you feel this may be the case.
- Have a glass of water as well as tissues handy. If you are using a funeral provider to arrange your funeral service, they should have that covered.
Writing an obituary is a difficult and emotional task. Usually, obituaries are more detailed accounts of the deceased's life; in all likelihood, you will be writing a "death notice". A death notice is a short, to the point account surrounding the person's death - who it is, where/when the service is, and family acknowledgements.
Using the template below will help make the process easier, and will ensure that you write a properly structured death notice.
Instructions: Replace all items in ITALICS below with the appropriate information.
[GIVEN NAME] [MIDDLE NAME (AND NICKNAME)] [SURNAME NAME], [DATE OF BIRTH] - [DATE OF DEATH]
[NAME] is survived by his/her [RELATION], [NAME]. (List all survivors: spouse children, siblings, parents, grandchildren, nieces and nephews). He/she is preceded in death by his/her [RELATION], [NAME]. (List predeceased: spouse, parents, children and siblings.)
A Funeral service/Celebration of Life will be held at [LOCATION] on [DATE] at [TIME]. Burial/reception will follow at [CEMETERY NAME], [CEMETERY LOCATION]. Arrangements entrusted to ETERNAL CARE CREMATION, Elizabethtown; www.eternalcare.ca to leave condolences.
Memorial donations may be made to [ORGANIZATION NAME], [MAILING ADDRESS]. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to [ORGANIZATION/NAME] [FINAL WORDS].