The satisfaction and pride you feel when a loved one reads the Soul Letter that you have crafted for them with love and appreciation, is very fulfilling. However the most meaningful and rewarding piece of writing, that most of us will ever have the opportunity to compose, is a eulogy for a loved one. Although technically a eulogy is a speech, this type of tribute for a loved one is written with the same objectives and methods as you would use when writing a Soul Letter. In both instances, you are sharing the unique characteristics and qualities that make your loved one special and cherished.
I have had the privilege of writing and delivering tributes for my grandmother, my uncle, and most recently for my father. Although I had not planned to write any of these tributes, when asked if I would speak at their services I was honoured to participate in the celebrations of their lives.
I must admit that after delivering the first two eulogies within a year of each other I was concerned that I would become known as the eulogy lady to the younger generation of my family. But there was no way I was going to refuse the opportunity when my mother asked me last week if I would pay tribute to my father.
My tips for writing a meaningful eulogy or tribute are the same as with any other letter that must be written from your heart and soul;
Be sincere. People will know you aren’t sincere if you start eluding to qualities the person didn’t display.
Be specific. Share some of your favourite stories or memories that you have of the person. If you need more examples talk to other loved ones and ask what their favourite memories were and share a couple of those.
Write about what made them special. What were their skills, accomplishments, qualities, virtues, and interests. What was important to them and what was it that made people love them.
Leave out the negativity. Now is not the time to talk about disagreements or qualities they had that weren’t admirable. None of us is perfect and we all make mistakes but these shouldn’t be included in a tribute or eulogy.
Speaking to an audience is nerve wracking even for seasoned public speakers so don’t worry about memorizing your tribute and don’t be embarrassed if you become emotional during your delivery. Everyone there is feeling emotional at the loss of a loved one and they will fully understand if you need to take a moment to compose yourself. Just take your time, try to look up and make eye contact once in a while, and speak from your heart.
Don’t be afraid to use humour in your tribute by sharing a funny story about your loved one. People will appreciate the chance to release some of their emotions with a good laugh. And my last suggestion is to make sure that you have a glass of water with you. Not only will it refresh you if you become dry, but it will also give you several opportunities to take a deep breathe and regroup. Taking 4-5 sips of water throughout your speech will look quite natural to the audience but it will give you 4-5 chances to find strength and continue.
Many people find the process of writing a tribute helps them with the grieving process and I can attest that this has been my own experience too. Writing from your heart and soul is always beneficial but there is something extra special about performing this task for a loved one who has passed. It is something I personally recommend to everyone I know that has lost a loved one or dear friend.
Have you ever had the chance to speak at a service for a friend or loved one? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!