Why Should I Write and Deliver a Eulogy?
Most of us dread public speaking – even presenting eulogies. Although eulogy audiences are more sympathetic and understanding than most, it is still public speaking, with challenges. The period following the death of a loved one is a trying time. You are likely experiencing grief and perhaps shock. With the prospect of standing up to present a eulogy, nervousness, lack of information, unresolved issues, family pressures and conflicts, time restrictions complicate the issue. Funeral speeches are difficult to write, much less deliver. Most of us will cower from the challenge.
So why bother? Surprisingly, there are many benefits to presenting a eulogy. In itself, writing and presenting a eulogy are tremendously unselfish acts. Yet numerous benefits fall to the writer/speaker, the listeners and most importantly, and somewhat ironic, to the deceased. What follows is a description of those benefits.
In this era of me, me, me, your focus when giving a eulogy has to be entirely outside yourself. You act in the interest of the deceased memory and your listeners. It is a voluntary act for the good of someone else. Acting in this way, with selfless motives is both physically and emotionally healthy. In addition, your focus on others makes it difficult to dwell on our own uncertainty, nervousness and personal conflicts. Presenting a eulogy is an opportunity to “get out of your own head”.
- Eulogies are positive. Focus on the positive, in any situation, distances the speaker from dwelling on faults or problems, our own or those of the deceased. If only temporarily, the eulogy speaker forgets all that is wrong. Robert H. Schuller said, “It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts”. What is the purpose of holding onto negatives? If the eulogy writer/speaker continues positive thinking after the eulogy, negative thoughts could diminish or disappear altogether. Eckhart Tolle said, “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
- Public speaking is challenging, difficult – one of the most dreaded act, but it builds character. Overcoming a challenge creates in us the ability to set new goals and conquer more challenges. It has a snowball effect. The more we speak publicly, the better we become, the better we become, the more our confidence builds, and so on. Try Toastmasters to start the ball rolling.
- If one is to survive loss in a healthy way and live with meaning, purpose and satisfaction, then healing is necessary. The act of delivering a eulogy is unselfish, gives you practice with your positive attitude and provides challenges. The act of putting thoughts, memories and feelings on paper and then making them public by speaking them to an audience begins the healing process from within.
Those listening to the funeral speech feel empathy, perhaps sympathy, admiration and respect your courage – they know what it is like up there. In this passive role of audience, they benefit from your insight into the life of the deceased.
- Listeners gain an understanding and appreciation for the deceased. Most do not know the deceased as you knew him/her. They are interested. People love stories about others, your words provide the opportunity for learning more about the deceased and move distraught feelings to more comfortable ones.
- Should you decide to include humor in the eulogy it benefits listeners by keeping his/her interest. A funeral is a sad event and a little bit of humor can lighten the mood.
- Listeners experience enhanced respect for the deceased. A eulogy’s positive focus affects the audience much the same as it affects the speaker. This is called cognitive restructuring and is defined as the process of replacing negative thoughts with positive, constructive ones. Thinking well of the deceased steers family and friends away from the deceased’s problems in life and their own.
- The audience, hearing intimate thoughts, memories and feelings about the deceased, are inclined to focus on the life he/she led instead of the finality of death. They are apt to feel more satisfied that the deceased’s life had meaning.
Having your audience feel better is a gift that will begin the healing process.
Benefits to the Deceased:
The deceased is not physically present but spiritually is still in our midst. That is why the gifts we bestow by writing and speaking a eulogy are so important.
- Celebrating sends the message we loved having you with us and it is worth a party to celebrate the life you lived.
- Words of a eulogy extend respect and honor. This benefits the deceased with deep admiration for your abilities, qualities and/or achievements.
- Wishing spiritual peace for the deceased is the most meaningful benefit bestowed. No more struggle! No more illness! No more conflict!
Achieving these benefits is possible when the eulogy wording conveys your intended message. The solution – opt for a prewritten template that allows for personalized content or ask a eulogy writer for help.
Why give a eulogy? The reasons are clear. You can exchange a few minutes of public speaking discomfort for all the benefits. Who benefits most? The answer – everyone involve – you, your listeners, and the deceased.