The stress of creating and presenting a speech of any kind can be taxing. This stress is increased tenfold in the wake of your grandfather’s departure. A eulogy is one of the most personal, intimate speeches a person can ever give. We know that we never met your grandfather, and may not know his quirks and best features but we do know that expertise and objective support can very well change the magnitude of eulogy writing into something that seems manageable. To get you started, we have compiled a guide for writing the perfect eulogy for your grandfather.
Of course, every eulogy ever written sounded a bit different. No one will write what you write or present the way you do. The steps below do not have to govern your speech, and are merely offered as advice. Missing your grandfather is difficult enough without writers block and the nervousness of making a mistake in front of everyone who cared for him. Our comprehensive suggestions are sure to help you move in the right direction, but for more complete assistance, please contact us at 320-4-EULOGY (320-438-5649).
Obituaries are editorial and written briefly, often by an impartial individual, for the newspaper. A eulogy that reads like an obituary would give your grandfather’s loved ones biographical stats they already know. A eulogy like this would feel cold in the environment of a funeral or memorial service.
Elegies are songs or poems dedicated to the deceased. An elegy is a beautiful way to honor your grandfather but does not stand in place of a eulogy.
A eulogy is personal and conversational in tone. You are delivering a eulogy because you were close to your grandfather, and that relationship should be apparent from the eulogy you deliver. Eulogies are meant to honor the deceased. Your eulogy should highlight the finest moments of your grandfather’s life and speak volumes to his character, his quirks, and the years of influence on those he touched.
It is human instinct to begin writing by prewriting. It may feel good to let your thoughts exit your mind through free writing activities. This is a great idea as a starter for writing the real deal and may allow you to ease your expression of grief. Brainstorming is often just a release of ideas and thoughts related to a topic. In this case, making a list of attributes and thoughts about your grandfather will kick start the writing process and get ideas flowing.
Jotting down a list of ideas about your grandfather – achievements, stories, memories, and mannerisms – will help you discern the direction of your eulogy. Reflecting on the emotions attached to those stories and thoughts may be difficult, but thinking of the good times and positive impact that your grandfather leaves behind will ease your pain. Sharing that light and legacy with others, in the form of a eulogy, will also breathe life into the arms of your grieving listeners.
To fuel your inspiration, start with this list of questions:
It may benefit you to ask these questions of many people who were close to your grandfather. In this way, your eulogy can represent the thoughts and feelings of the people who loved and admired him. Be sure that the individuals you ask or consult are prepared to handle the emotional strain of openly discussing someone they have just lost. The conversation should be kept light and happy and leave a positive impact on the other grieving individuals.
Tone is an important consideration when planning any speech, especially one as sensitive as a eulogy. The tone of your oration will also give direction as to which stories to include or leave out. Your eulogy is about your grandfather, so it should represent him well and be received well by his peers, relatives, and successors alike. If your grandfather was a grave or stoic man, honor that with a serious eulogy. If he lived to his final years playing pranks and spouting off goofy adages, stir those in for best results.
A combination of these tones, or a nice balance between them, may be suitable for most eulogies as it allows for moments of gentle remembrance and light-hearted nostalgia. Respect and tribute are of the utmost importance when eulogizing a loved one as dear as your grandfather. If you are stuck on tone, an objective third party is a viable solution that may help you decide on an appropriate style and can help you move along in your writing process.
Look over your notes about your grandfather and you will likely notice a recurring idea or message. It may be that your grandfather was a successful, pious man or a relaxed and family-oriented individual. Scouring your notes and ideas and digging through his old pictures and belongings are certain to assist you in generating your message. Your grandfather may in fact be pious, successful, family-oriented and relaxed, and you may want to touch on many of these facets of his personality. This is acceptable, but organization will become even more essential as additional points are added. Concision is important; listeners should feel that they are easily able to follow the speech.
There is also no need to chronicle a complete set of reference points about your grandfather’s life. Chances are good that the people who will be hearing your eulogy already know him well enough not to be given a full biography. Instead, focus more of your time on engaging listeners in the highlights of your grandfather’s life – especially the part that pertains to you personally.
It is a very good idea to speak with the funeral director or memorial service provider before the service and determine a length-limit for your eulogy. If no limit is provided by the venue, assume a five minute minimum and seven minute maximum as a good rule of thumb. It would be poor form to shorten your eulogy to much less than 5 minutes, because it would not be seen as a proper tribute to an entire lifetime and a close relationship. On the other hand, eulogies exceeding seven minutes can be tiresome for listeners and cumbersome for the speaker as well.
Writing an outline is an essential part of composing your eulogy. It is wise to first break your outline into an introduction, body, and conclusion. Further compartmentalization, into specific ideas or messages, will help further delineate your speech. It is important to deliver all the best points about your grandfather’s life, and an outline can ensure that nothing is missed or out of place. We are also available to help develop or review your outline and help clarify your direction.
Some assert that an outline is an unnecessary time-waster for something as intimate as a eulogy, feeling that it is more heartfelt to speak from their own memories about someone as admired and appreciated as a grandfather. The truth is, however, that with grief and stress in the mix, your speech may not be as dynamic as your grandfather deserves if it is not outlined, well-written, and rehearsed. Eulogies you have seen may lead you to believe that they can be put on effortlessly without notes, but the truth is, those were likely memorized versions of something very carefully planned.
There is an enormous risk to delivering a eulogy without an outlined, written version to speak from. Unplanned eulogies may sound unnatural, be delivered too quickly, or seem unorganized. The worst way to honor the grandfather you knew and loved is by giving a garbled, unplanned eulogy at his memorial service.
Your eulogy should celebrate and pay homage to your grandfather. Honoring him properly begins with orchestrating an outline for a thoughtful and sentimental speech, allowing you to deliver it with confidence and ease. Taking the time to thoughtfully plan your grandfather’s eulogy speaks to the trust your family has placed in you.
Your eulogy should, first and foremost, sound like something you would actually say. All too often, eulogies and other speeches sound too academic because the presenters attempt to use unnatural, complex language. Writing your speech should sound like words from your heart about your beloved grandfather. To test this theory, write a few sentences and then read them out loud to see how they transfer orally. It is not uncommon for words that flow beautifully in writing to sound all wrong when spoken.
Edit your written eulogy to appeal to the ear, not the eye. You may feel frustrated or lost in the course of writing your eulogy, and that is okay – this is an overwhelming time. Take breaks, and think fondly of your grandfather when frustration looms. Allow yourself to relax and refresh before returning to tackle the writing once more.
It can be taxing to begin a piece of writing, especially one as important as the eulogy for your cherished grandfather. If you feel stuck, write other sections and return to the introduction once the words have begun to flow. Keep in mind that the reason for the introduction is primarily to formally introduce yourself and your relationship to your grandfather. Most of your family members will know you are the grandson or granddaughter of the deceased, but some friends and peers of your grandfather’s may not recognize you. The other essential purpose of the introduction is to prepare your audience for what is going to be discussed. It is best not to hammer out every point you will make in an introduction, so instead, briefly and casually explain why you are standing with that microphone or at that podium.
Why is it important to you? What do you want to share? If you are there to present, with dignity, the life and times of your grandfather, state that. If you want to reminisce on a life of love with grandpa, share that instead. This initial expression of intent will set the tone for the eulogy and prepare your listeners to feel along with you. Simple language and crowd engagement work best to elicit attention and care from the audience.
With an obvious direction provided in your introduction, the body of the speech should flow with the same tone and purpose. Overall, be sure that what you share is light and respectful. Stories and examples of your grandfather’s characteristics and ways of life will be more effective than a general listing of his achievements. Stories, in eulogies, serve the purpose of removing the listeners from unhappy circumstances and transplanting them into a place of gentle remembrance.
As with the outline, the body of the speech should be organized by chronology and topic so that it may be understood and digested by your audience and properly delivered by you. Transitions must be made clear and time accounted for so the speech never drags, lulls, or feels rushed.
Your final statements could very well be the ones your audience remembers for days after the service, or for an even longer duration. As your speech begins to wind down, reviewing the major points of your speech and your grandfather’s life will be fitting. This is a time to speak pointedly and with emphasis. Do not forget to express gratitude for being invited or allowed to speak on behalf of your grandfather.
Once the eulogy is finished, a wave of relief and accomplishment is likely to follow. However, the feelings of completion should be put off until after the speech is edited. All too often, a piece of writing is finished, but editing is overlooked. In the case of an important speech such as this, a lack of editing may leave you at the microphone trying to discern your own point or read a misspelled word.
Deciding how to practice your speech will greatly inform how you will deliver it on the day of the funeral or service. You may either choose to memorize your eulogy in full, take note cards with bullet points for reference, or read the speech in its entirety. Choosing the best option is a decision only you can make for yourself. Some presenters would see reading aloud as a robotic option while others would be comforted by it. On the other hand, memorization is what comes naturally for some while others would find it most intimidating. We would like to offer our advice, regardless of which option you choose.
Memorize your eulogy one phrase or statement at a time. Once you have successfully memorized one piece, add another. In this way, the task of memorization is less daunting and more repetitious. It is also a good idea to memorize in a monotone voice. Adding inflection when you actually present is far more feasible than trying to memorize tone as well as words – this can even come off as more unnatural.
Folks choosing this option should primarily consider that these notes are not comprehensive. This means that some of the best pieces of a beautiful eulogy could be accidentally left out if not noted on the card.
A fully read speech is a comfortable way for people who are not memorizers to deliver a confident, quality eulogy. The drawback to reading is usually a loss of eye contact and a lack of speed control. People who read their speeches are usually staring at a page, fidgeting with it in their hands, and speaking FAR too fast. Practicing to get familiar ahead of time will ensure you know when to pause for laughter or effect, and it indicates how the speech will flow.
Regardless of which path you choose for familiarizing yourself with your eulogy, practice is key. Practice in front of a mirror to ensure that you are keeping your hands still and looking up often enough. Practice with loved ones to get comfortable with eye contact and an audience.
If you are nervous about presenting your eulogy – rest assured that what you are feeling is completely normal. A fear of public speaking is the very most common phobia that exists for most eulogizers. You can overcome this fear, however, for such a deserving cause. Sure, dealing with the fear of messing up is not any easier when you are also grieving from loss, but we would like to help with some proven advice.
When people are nervous, it is not uncommon that they begin speaking quicker and quicker until no one can understand them. This is their response to wanting to be finished with the task at hand. Slow your speech to a crawl to remedy this. It might feel and sound very odd at first, but slower delivery will ensure clarity and actually calm you as you move through the eulogy.
You will be a little nervous; it is inevitable. As a result of nerves and human error, you may skip over a word, stutter, mumble or lose your place in your notes. In the event of a mistake, take a moment to pause and regain your bearings. There is no need to panic or feel embarrassed. The crowd will understand that you are stressed and anxious, so they will forgive quickly.
Eye contact is important while giving any sort of speech, as it helps the audience members connect and engage, and also allows for intimacy, especially in a setting such as a funeral or service. Making direct eye contact with an audience member is a good tactic, but remember to move to a new section of the audience approximately every sentence or two. In this way you are certain not to linger uncomfortably on one individual or stare blankly at the back of the room for too long.
It is advised to find out if the funeral home or memorial service venue is providing a microphone. If they are, it’s wise to dedicate time to practice with the system prior to delivery. If microphones are not available, it is even more important to practice your eulogy with attention to volume. You will likely need to project your voice much louder than you would expect to overpower environmental distraction for yourself and your audience.
Rest assured, once you have finished giving your eulogy, you will feel proud and certain that you grandfather would have appreciated it. Enjoy the feeling of having completed a taxing and stressful undertaking by making it a complete success and celebrating the life of someone you so dearly love.
For help planning, composing, or even rehearsing your eulogy, call 320-4-EULOGY (320-438-5649). We offer assistance in all parts of the eulogizing process. Further, we would feel honored as your choice of assistance through this impactful experience.