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Tips for reading a eulogy without caving in?

(30 Posts)
JoyceDivision Tue 16-May-17 22:19:36

Can anyone help?

DF passed away last week after a short illness. We knew it was terminal and were fortunate to be with him when he passed away and have open conversations before he died.

We have written a eulogy that we hope we can read at his funeral.

Other than being flinty hearted, how can we try to prepare and do this without sobbing away and wailing through it?

We're planning to visit him at the chapel of rest, we've been reading it out aloud athome,and if we can read it in churcgh we'll ask the parish priest if we can go into church one eve to read it from the pulpit.

Any other helpful tips?

blue2014 Tue 16-May-17 22:25:49

I'm sorry for your loss flowers

It depends really, if you really want to get through without crying then - don't make eye contact with anyone, have a stupid cheery song to play in your head and do a very very slight smile (just turn your lips up)

However, please know - no one will be expecting you not to cry or break down. You do what you need to do (and if you want the speech said, have someone less close to DF on standby to take over if needed)


JoyceDivision Tue 16-May-17 22:28:00

thank you blue,

I amsharing t with a sibling, we have written it and it is about our dad,so has very silly stories in it, not maudlin, but just hope I can do it as df had good life, he had a good death and feel I should help him have good final ceremony

Wigeon Tue 16-May-17 22:29:33

Sorry to hear your sad news.

I got through a reading at my cousin's funeral 10 years ago (she was 29 when she died) by taking my DH up with me and holding his hand while I read it. It really helped. I actually felt quite (inappropriately) elated after doing the reading as I really thought I wouldn't be able to.

Good luck flowers

Lapinlapin Tue 16-May-17 22:30:55

I knew I wouldn't manage a eulogy, but I did a reading at my df's funeral. The way I looked at it was that it was the last thing I'd ever be able to do for him, so I was determined not to mess it up.

I also practised it over and over (on my own) so that I knew it off by heart. And I deliberately didn't look out into the congregation and make eye contact with anyone.

VeryButchyRestingFace Tue 16-May-17 22:31:17

I didn't read the eulogy at my mum's recent funeral, because it's customary for the priest to do so at her parish.

However, emotionally I could have, because I'd sank so much valium my emotions were more or less completely blunted and I made it through the service w/o a single tear.

The mother of one of my friends took some valium (far less than me) before delivering her sister's eulogy and said it really took the edge of it and she was able to get through it without dissolving into tears.

Hopefully other posters may be along with more suggestions, but realistically speaking, I think you would need to have supreme willpower to read a eulogy for a close family member and not break down without the help of drugs.

Nonibaloni Tue 16-May-17 22:32:01

Celebrant here, this is an amazing thing to do for df but don't put any pressure on yourself. Don't over think it.

Rehearse until the words lose their meaning, so your just thinking first sentence 2nd paragraph etc. Then go as slow as you need to, if you feel your voice catch look up massive breath released slowly then go again.

This is such a hard time, be kind to yourself flowers

daisygirlmac Tue 16-May-17 22:34:20

Definitely second not making eye contact with anyone. Take big deep breaths and don't worry if you start to wobble - I would have a sip of water, a breath and carry on. If you can't carry on, could you have a back up plan, say your DH came and carried on for you?

JoyceDivision Tue 16-May-17 22:35:14

thank you everyone

Ishall steer clear ofvalium, however may just havea wee tot of gin to take off the edge...

The tipabout gettibg words to lose their meaning huge breath slowly released to deal with catch in voice is good thanks

TiredyMcTired Tue 16-May-17 23:01:04

Sorry for your loss flowers
I did the eulogy at my grandmothers funeral a few years ago. I was shaking like a leaf all the way through, but I got through it by not making eye contact with anyone (just looked up, but not right at anyone) and I'd also rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed! I sobbed my heart out when I sat back down but I got through it.
I'm doing a reading at FiLs funeral tomorrow and I'm taking the same approach.
I think that if you know it will mean a lot to you to do it then you will find the determination and focus. Just remember, absolutely no-one will expect you to do it without a wobbly voice or a few moments where you have to gather yourself together. You will never have more sympathetic listeners...

Nonibaloni Tue 16-May-17 23:04:43

I know it's hard and emotions are running high but try not to focus on the eulogy. It's a bit like not looking down, if you think about it you end it making it worse.

And I forgot to say there is absolutely no shame in breaking down. Crying is always ok. If you were at a funeral and someone cried during a eulogy you'd think no less of them.

echt Wed 17-May-17 09:08:54

Sorry for your loss, Joyce
The crying is fine, no-one minds at all.

I didn't cry once during my DH's funeral as I'd used self-hypnosis to turn off the taps for 24 hours. This is not very helpful I know, as proper training takes quite a while.

Not making eye contact is good and the glass of water gives you time to pause and gather in a natural way. Will there be a lectern to hold your speech? This is very useful as when speakers get shaky hands, as can happen, this can make them more self conscious, whereas you can rest your hands on the lectern.

All the best. thanks

herethereandeverywhere Wed 17-May-17 09:27:54

I'm sorry for your loss.

I read a eulogy at a friend's memorial - it was seriously emotional stuff - about her 2 year old daughter she'd left behind and about our friend (we were in a choir together) learning and performing a beautiful song, Billy Joel's Lullaby - which he wrote when his daughter asks 'what happens when you die?' at a time when she knew she was terminal. No-one else in the choir could read it or listen without sobbing (I prepared them all beforehand so we weren't emotional wrecks when we got up to sing). Anyway, enough background...

I basically practised and practised until it didn't choke me anymore. I worked on the delivery like it was a job - I had an important message to share and I focused on doing it properly. The practise means you can pace yourself - this gives you space to breathe and pause where need to. Mostly it gave me a greater sense of control - I knew exactly which words were coming next so it didn't 'surprise' me when I got to a particularly sad bit which could have choked me up. All the images that popped into my head when I read the words were familiar to me and were expected, so they just didn't make me spontaneously cry any more.

Don't put pressure on yourself, don't make the reading or the 'not crying' into a thing. Working on it in the lead up to the funeral could give you a good focus.

Alternatively, you have already had some great advice. You will be loved by everyone in the room. They will all understand, they will all be sad too. So if you cry or choke or have to stop that will be okay. What is the absolute worst that can happen in the situation? You have to stop and in that case someone else could take over. It will be okay, everyone will understand. Do what you can. flowers

AlbusPercival Wed 17-May-17 09:30:54

I read the eulogy at my Grandad's funeral a few weeks ago.

I went over and over it in my head. Practicing being there mentally.

When there I just focussed on telling Wveryone present how awesome he was. Like a party to celebrate him.

I made it to the last line.

LadyRoseate Wed 17-May-17 09:34:18

I cry very easily and I know I would dissolve into tears. I think I would probably ask someone who was less emotionally involved to act as a back-up, so if I couldn't go on they could come up and take over reading it out, while I stayed there too. But a bit of crying (that you can still speak through) is fine. The last funeral I went to had a lovely eulogy from the daughter of the person, she had to stop a few times and had a cracked voice but she got through it.


LadyRoseate Wed 17-May-17 09:34:49

Oops Sorry you have lost your DF flowers

PoisonousSmurf Wed 17-May-17 09:35:38

I wrote the eulogy for my mum. But I was too much of a mess to read it. My uncle did.

CoxsOrangePippin Wed 17-May-17 09:40:44

For a reading, I found it helpful to practise out loud in front of someone who would be there in the front row and then make eye contact just with them.

mehimthem Wed 17-May-17 09:47:25

I too wrote & read a eulogy at my dear Dad's service last year; I cried & cried while we found the words to say what we did, & every practice seemed even worse. Our celebrant (is this the right word ??) suggested I go in early & read our piece - with my DSis & DBro - to Dad, but by the time we got sorted & Mum OK there were others already at the funeral home. In the end it was OK, there were a few moments I wavered but I read it to Dad & told his story. Sis & Bor hadnt been keen to talk either, but the 3 of us there were all able to share special memories. The worst bit was when they played the Last Post at the end (he was a Returned Serviceman) & I totally wasnt expecting that, & lost it completely. Good luck - its a truly honourable speech for the man who was your Dad, a very special last gesture.

fatowl Wed 17-May-17 11:27:39

My and my sister wrote the eulogy for my dad in march and I read it.

I read it lots and lots the day before so I knew it pretty much off by heart. I agree with trying not to make eye contact (I knew if I'd looked at my DM I wouldn't have managed it)

Take long pauses if you need to recompose yourself, they won't seem that long to the rest of them (just ages to you).

My voice broke a couple of times, but I did make it.
I'm sorry for your loss

JoyceDivision Wed 17-May-17 20:24:31

Thanks everyone, lots of good tips, am practising at the mo and we are able to go into church one day to read through from lecturn so we are used to the view. Keepthinking 'flinty heart' to numb myself til we get through our bit.

Herethere.... that sounds very emotional, but a huge hats off to all of you that have attempted a reading x

herethereandeverywhere Wed 17-May-17 21:18:54


Let us know how it goes and remember this is not a pass/fail scenario. What ever you contribute will be heartfelt and respected by everyone there.

Good luck and a big squeeze hug X

SafeWord Wed 17-May-17 21:25:02

I sort of pretended to be someone who is good at public speaking.

My dh helped me write the words so I avoided the really heart breaking ones I could have used.

I made it til the last sentence before crumbling a bit. Long pause and I gathered myself.

Im sorry for your loss and wish you all the best for the day flowers

Jenijena Wed 17-May-17 21:25:22

I did this for my grandmother, and I've been an organist at lots of funerals so seen a huge variety.

Give a copy of the words to the celebrant; they can continue if needed.

Think about where you will be in relation to the coffin. At my grandmothers funeral, the space was quite limited and it physically took up a lot of space. I avoided eye contact with it until I was done as I found it too hard otherwise.

Rehearse. No one will mind if you cry. If you can say something to lift the mood, that's good, but not essential.

I'm sorry for your loss.

bigbluebus Wed 17-May-17 21:55:56

I have no tips for you OP as it is not something I have done. DBro read the Eulogy at both my DF's and then DM's funeral. I managed to read a prayer at each but that isn't the same.

At my DD's funeral a few month's ago, DH and I wrote the Eulogy and then one of DD's Uncles added his own thoughts to it and read it out. Even he wasn't sure he was going to get through it - but he did. One thing the Vicar did advise us to do though was to give him (the vicar) a copy of all the poems/readings/eulogies so that if anyone did break down, he could take over if needed. DBil found this a great comfort - knowing that if he struggled, someone was on the sidelines ready to take over if needed.

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