What is a funeral speech? And if you have been asked to give a speech at a funeral, what exactly should you say? Are there any good examples of funeral speeches out there for you to draw inspiration from?
As a professional writer who specializes in writing funeral speeches, I’m going to answer these questions and more in this article.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
What is it Called When You Give a Speech at a Funeral?
The appropriate term for a speech given at a funeral is a eulogy. This funeral speech (or eulogy) is usually given by a next-of-kin or someone who otherwise knew the person who has died very well. In the eulogy, the deceased is honored and remembered for who they were as a person. Their life is chronicled, their accomplishments are showcased, and the legacy they leave for family and friends is placed under the spotlight.
Eulogies are said in memory of someone who has passed away, but depending on the person, the tone doesn’t necessarily have to be serious or somber. Some eulogies are downright hilarious (often times to reflect the humorous nature of the deceased), while others are reflective yet optimistic.
See further below for some eulogy and funeral speech examples.
What Do You Say at a Funeral Speech?
A typical eulogy consists of a introduction of yourself and your relationship to the deceased, followed by a mini chronology of their life: when and where they were born, who they married, their career, when they died.
The speech can include some of your favorite memories of them, as well as special aspects of who they were:
- What were their greatest accomplishments in life?
- What were they most proud of?
- What were some of their favorite hobbies?
- How did they leave the world a better place?
Remember that your speech doesn’t have to be all serious. Feel free to tell funny stories of your loved one or share some of their favorite jokes or sayings. This is a little trick that will not only lighten your mood, but also the mood of your audience. Feel free to add any favorite poems, song lyrics, verses or other quotes that you feel are appropriate.
The eulogy usually ends with a special thank-you given to a church, family or friends, hospice or anyone else who has supported the family or cared for the deceased during the last several days. If you want, it can also include a heartfelt final goodbye to your loved one.
As you are preparing to write a funeral speech or eulogy, it’s important to remember to keep the focus of your speech on your loved one who has died.
When writing, it can be easy to veer off topic and onto yourself and how you’re feeling (this is only natural, especially if you are nervous about public speaking). Of course you should highlight your relationship to the deceased and the impacts they had on your life, but keep in mind who you’re honoring in this special moment: the person who has passed away. Putting the focus off yourself and onto the decedent will also help you calm your nerves.
Tips for Giving A Funeral Speech
Besides keeping your mind on the purpose of your funeral speech, here are a few tried-and-true tips for the writing process, as well as the delivery:
- Get all your thoughts down on paper. Collect your own favorite memories of the deceased, as well as memories and stories from family and friends. Get all your dates in order – your loved one’s birthday, date of death, marriage anniversary, date they graduated from college, year they retired, etc. Place your thoughts in the order you want to say them, pick the tone of your eulogy, and write out the rough draft.
- Get input from family and friends. Chances are, you already know someone who has previously given a eulogy. Ask for their thoughts on your funeral speech and what they think you should add or keep out.
- Practice your speech. Stand in front of a mirror and go over your eulogy a few times. Practicing it will give you the chance to not only pick out any errors you’ve made in your rough draft, but also pinpoint any sensitive spots at which you are likely to become emotional.
- Write your final copy. It’s a good idea to pick a support person and make them a copy of the eulogy, too…this way, if at any time during your speech you begin to struggle, they can join you with their copy and help you finish. Also consider making enough copies of your speech for everyone who attends the funeral to take home with them, as a memento.
- Take deep breaths before you begin your speech, and during it. On the day of the funeral, remember that everyone is focused on the person who has passed away and how much they miss them… not on you. Keeping this in mind will help you stay focused if you feel your nerves getting the best of you. When you get to a sensitive spot in your speech at which you know you’ll probably tear up, take some more deep breaths to help clear your mind and heart.
- Look to your support person when needed. If you’ve picked out a support person, have them sit in the front row of the room in which you’ll be speaking. Make sure that you can see them, and that they have a copy of your speech. Make eye contact with them when you need to for encouragement, or just to stabilize your emotions. It may be a good idea to have a secret signal, word or hand gesture that only the two of you know, in case you need them to join you at the mic to help you finish your speech.
If it gets down to it and you decide that you could benefit from professional assistance in writing your funeral speech, as mentioned above I write custom eulogies for a living. I would honored to help you create yours. Learn more here.
Funeral Speech Examples
No two eulogies are alike, and there is by no means any set rule that you have to follow when writing yours. But when writing your funeral speech, it can help to have a few examples to look at for guidance and inspiration.
Below you’ll find one of my own eulogy samples, and further down, links to two others.
Eulogy Example #1
Good morning all.
My name is Steven Lewis and I am Lydia’s son. On behalf of myself and my sister Valerie, I want to thank you all for being here today as we formally say goodbye to our mother. I recognize most of the faces here, but there’s a few I don’t know. I would love to speak with you and shake your hand after today’s service, if you have a few moments before you leave. Each of you was special to Mom in one way or another and I want to recognize that.
My mother was born Lydia Jane Ethridge on February 25th, 1959 to my grandparents, Lucille and Edgar. She spent her childhood in Oklahoma City, where she made many lifelong friends. At the tender age of seventeen, she met my father, Hank Lewis, who was visiting the area from Kentucky. The two eloped on September 1st, 1976 and he took her home to Louisville.
Valerie and I were born just one year apart. My parents were still very young when we came around, and were struggling to get by. When our dad was laid off from his job, Mom took it upon herself to help make ends meet. She was a wonderful painter. She was able to create artwork and sell it at school functions, local fairs, and even neighborhood garage and estate sales.
Mind you, the internet was not around back then for her to market her work–Mom’s paintings were good enough that word of mouth alone brought her quite a bit of opportunity. Mom would never say this, but her work was actually compared more than once to that of famous artist Claude Monet…and maybe you knew this or not, but Mom once won a contest for best Monet impressionist. Mom was also a big giver and often painted her birthday and Christmas gifts for friends and family. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you here today own one or two of her original pieces!
When my parents separated in 1985, Mom decided to go back to school. She moved us to Lexington to start classes at the University of Kentucky, where she graduated in 1991 with her degree in Art History and Visual Studies. The next year she realized her lifelong dream of becoming an art teacher when she joined Edwards Christian Academy in nearby Southerfield. At Edwards, she met the man who would become the love of her life, Sam Reynolds. The two wed on July 7th, 1993 in this very church.
I see that many of you here today are teachers and students from Edwards, which sadly closed its doors for good in June of last year, about a year after Mom first started to get sick. I just want to take this time to acknowledge each of you, and to say thank you for welcoming my mother to the school like you did. She loved that school and I think her love for the kids there it was evident in the work she did. The art club that she started in 1996 went strong until the school closed its doors, starting out the first year with just 13 attendees and ending its final year with almost 100 members.
Today I also want to acknowledge my stepfather Sam. As many of you know, Sam Reynolds is no longer with us, but the years that he and Mom were able to spend together were the greatest years of her life. It gives me peace in knowing that he and Mom are finally together again.
Besides her love for painting, for Edwards, for her children and for Sam, Mom had a love for Mother Earth. It drove her mad to see litter on the side of the highway and she would often stop herself to pick it up. She stopped using plastic bags and straws long before it became trendy to do so. She had a compost garden bed and regularly participated in not only the city’s recycling program, but also her neighborhood’s Green Club. This club met once a month to make crafts out of household odds and ends that would otherwise be thrown away. Having lived an eco-friendly lifestyle for as long as we could remember, Mom instilled her passion for caring for the earth in my sister and I, and eventually in Sam, although it took him a little bit longer to adopt her ways!
That passion is actually why Mom’s remains are not here with us today. Several months before she passed, and still feeling relatively okay, Mom began to research her own final disposition. She discovered that, after death, her body could be cremated and placed in a biodegradable pod. She could be “planted” rather than buried or inurned, and her remains could provide nurture to a tree for years and years, possibly centuries, to come…. In other words, as I speak, Mom is caring for the planet in her own special way, even in death.
How wonderful is that?
Before I close, on behalf of myself and my sister, I want to share a special memory of our mother that I think does a really great job at highlighting just how wonderfully bright her heart was. From the time we were tots until probably our mid-teens, Mom thought it was fun to randomly stop whatever she was doing– painting, cooking, laundry, whatever– and yell out at the top of her lungs, “dance party!” And whatever my sister and I were doing– playing, studying, even arguing– we were obligated to stop and dance with our mom for about ten minutes, or however long Mom wanted us all to dance together! Both Valerie and I attribute this little ritual we grew up with as one of the reasons we have always been very close, and there is no else to thank for that but our wonderful mother.
So, thank you all once more for being here today as we say goodbye to our beautiful mother. A very special thank you to Angels Among Us Community Hospice, who took such good care of her in her final days. Also a big thank you to Little Bethel House of Faith for opening their doors to all of us today. Mom was not a member here but it means everything to us that we can send her off today, back to Sam, in the very place where they were united.
Eulogy Example #2
Click on each of the below samples to be taken to the PDF file.
- McKayla Jade Brewer (PDF eulogy example)
Eulogy Example #3
- Edwin James Garza (PDF eulogy example)
I hope that you found this explanation of a funeral speech helpful. And if you have been tasked with giving a eulogy in the near future, know that with a little confidence in yourself and your own unique writing process, you can and will write a wonderful, memorable speech in honor of your loved one.
Remember, if all else fails and you decide that you need help writing your eulogy, I’m a professional at this. I would be more than honored to provide you the assistance you’re looking for, should you need it. To find out more, click here.