Some people want to include eulogies during the funeral service. At our parish, Father prefers that eulogies be given at the beginning of the funeral service for several reasons.
First, some in attendance might not have known the deceased. Highlighting his/her life at the beginning of the service centers the celebration. Secondly, the funeral liturgy has a sacred rhythm that moves from hearing God’s Word to celebrating the Eucharist and then to a final commendation and prayers of farewell.
The old practice of giving a eulogy at the end of Mass does not flow naturally from the liturgy. It can bring people to tears or laughter and the beautiful final rites for commendation are not received or prayed well because members of the assembly may be overcome with emotion.
Our parish pastor is a wonderful homilist. He takes considerable time to fashion his homilies and to highlight important details about the life of the deceased. Because he is so exceptional, adding a eulogy might not be necessary. Father always makes personal comments about the deceased that are memorable and that outline the legacy of the deceased person.
Personal eulogies filled with memories can preferably be given during the wake service or even at the funeral reception. At these times, eulogies can encourage others to remember and tell stories — creating a time of joyful sharing and inviting some personal healing.
A eulogy given in church during the funeral service should emphasize the Christian and/or Catholic qualities of the deceased.
A eulogy that touches on those qualities can truly create a beautiful legacy. Family members who plan funeral liturgies should be cautious when choosing someone to write a eulogy. If you decide that someone would give a dignified eulogy in church that highlights a few significant memories and truly honors the deceased person’s legacy, please follow the following guidelines:
Guidelines for eulogies
- Eulogies should not last more than five to six minutes. They should center on a few certain honorable characteristics of the deceased rather than be a long list of events or biographical details. Shorter eulogies are stronger and more memorable. Longer eulogies in church, even when entertaining, are not appropriate because they detract from the prayer of the assembly.
- The eulogist should be someone who can speak well and who has practiced reading the eulogy aloud before the service. This would help to eliminate stumbling blocks or any emotional sadness that might distort the words of the eulogy and make it difficult to understand.
- Only one eulogy should be given and it should not be shared with other presenters. This will keep the eulogy unified and memorable. When more than one person delivers a eulogy, it becomes long and repetitious. Other offers for eulogies can be presented at more intimate times such as at the end of the wake, graveside services, or at the funeral reception.
- Please email the eulogy to the funeral planners so that it can be ready to read at the microphone in church. Email it to the following e-mail addresses at least one day before the day of the funeral: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Important advice for the eulogy presenter
- The eulogy is for the assembly, not for you. Keep in mind that you’re presenting to others who have had their own experience and memories with the deceased. Sharing memories that only touch on your personal interaction is inconsiderate.
- Though you can share some personal memories, it is always better to connect with all who are assembled. Choose to speak about things everyone can learn from the life of the deceased; find the real legacy.
- Write it out and deliver it well. Don’t think you can give a eulogy extemporaneously. Emotions can surface as you deliver it, so the chance of getting choked up and forgetting what you were going to say are high. Avoid this. Write your eulogy word for word and read it when you deliver it. As you read, don’t keep your nose buried in your notes. Glance down to see what you’re going to say and look up at the assembly to deliver those lines.
- If you don’t write the eulogy word for word, you will deliver it in a longer form that will be tedious and less effective. You may repeat yourself, and stumble over important parts that truly honor the deceased. The other reason to write it out is that family and friends may ask for a copy of it as a keepsake.
- Keep it brief. Remember the eulogy is not the most important part of the Catholic funeral service. To be most effective, keep your eulogy brief, even if others encourage you to speak longer — five to six minutes maximum is more than adequate time to deliver a strong, beautiful and memorable eulogy.
- Practice to get the tears out. Emotions are going to surface as you deliver your eulogy. Though emotions demonstrate your sincere grief, they also prevent your words from being heard. Listeners think about your sorrow and not about the person you wish to honor. If you’re consumed by choking sobs, you’ll diminish your ability to honor the deceased. To prevent these problems, get all your tears out by practicing. Read your speech again and again until you no longer cry when you read it. Your clarity and strength will help others remember and heal.
- No matter how much you practice, seeing the teary faces of loved ones and friends may still cause you to cry. If you do get choked up, pause for a moment, take a few breaths, wipe away any tears and start reading again. No need to apologize or make a big deal about choking up. People understand. Just say, “Excuse me,” and get back to the work of delivering your eulogy.
- Also consider this: If you have the ability to write a beautiful eulogy but not the talent or the strength to deliver it, you can write it and make copies of it for people to read privately sometime after the funeral. Often, the written words will bring more consolation after the funeral than a spoken eulogy during the funeral.
- Final advice: Remember, you want to bring dignity and honor to the memory of the deceased person. Some true stories, unless they are centered in honorable Christian values, should not be told. Every memory you have is not important for others. This is your contribution to create a legacy for your loved one. Do your best to keep that legacy dignified and honorable.
- Remember: At Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Parish, you will be asked to email the eulogy to the funeral planners so that it can be ready for you to read at the microphone in church and so that it can become a part of the keepsake given to the family. Please email this eulogy to the following e-mail addresses at least one day before the day of the funeral: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.