Michael Jackson's is probably the latest of the famous eulogies. After all whenever someone famous dies somebody gives a eulogy. Think of Princess Diana for instance and the wonderful words spoken by her brother. As eulogies go it was personal, poignant and professional. It was probably, in fact, the perfect eulogy. Even those of us who are less famous deserve one too. After all anyone who has lived and loved has made a contribution to life. Why is it then that so many people find it hard to write a eulogy? If they were speaking to friends about a loved one who had died they would have no trouble describing his or her attributes. In fact when someone dies the family members often want to talk and talk about the deceased because it seems to help with the mourning process. Yet when they stand up in church, in the funeral home or even at the graveside words seem to fail them.
A good eulogy is about the life and times of the deceased. It should summarise their contribution to their family and the community. I use the word summarise deliberately because a good eulogy should be short, especially if it is given in a church. Clergymen and women, you see, might have another funeral or another ceremony to attend. It is polite to ask how long they would like the eulogy to last. Three to five minutes is the norm.
Obviously you cannot give a full history of the deceased person in such a short time but you can give highlights of their lives. You can mention where they were born and perhaps their great love for their place of birth. Alternatively you might say the deceased was a wanderer all his or her life and describe some trips. You speak about his or her job and, above all, about the personality and hobbies of the deceased. Obviously you mention attributes like kindness and generosity but, if the family don't mind, you can also speak about the foibles of the deceased. You might say Mary was always late so everyone allowed for that when organising meetings with her. You might say John supported a certain football team who were useless but that undoubtedly he might be using his influence in heaven to improve matters. Eulogies should give comfort. Basically eulogies should leave people comforted and smiling through the tears.
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Niamh Crowe has written speeches for 20 years. She has written Eulogies also, which is very difficult to write. Her site has thousands of speeches for every event and occasion.
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