Tips for Asking a Stand-in To Deliver a Eulogy You've Written

My father is in hospice, and my family assumes that I will give one of the eulogies at his funeral. I have no trouble writing it. But I'm terrified of delivering it myself. Public speaking is not one of my talents. My dad and I are very close, and I'm sure I'll break down and cry. Is it acceptable to ask someone else to read the eulogy I compose? And whom should I ask?

You are hardly alone. Most people's eyes glaze over at the prospect of addressing an audience on any occasion, let alone one filled with grief, the pain of loss, and reminders of their mortality. It's understandable that you feel overwhelmed and unable to manage it. When my husband died, I never considered speaking (or even writing the eulogy – and I'm a professional writer). It was stressful enough just to put one foot in front of the other.

In your place, I'd go right ahead and ask someone else to read the eulogy. Select a friend or family member who has speaking experience and the composure to handle this emotional situation. You can tell the person to start out with something like, "---- composed this eulogy, and asked me to read it." The speaker can add a few personal comments about the deceased after the reading – or not. There is no template.

You can consider other options, as well. Often the clergy gives the eulogy (and some very observant families may insist upon this). The family supplies pertinent details in cases where the minister did not know the deceased. For example, he/she may have been a supportive parent, a generous, loyal friend and a community activist. Another possibility is to ask the funeral director to read your words.

Not all religions use a eulogy. For example, Islam does not. But eulogies are common. They are speeches of praise for someone who has recently died, and derive from the Latin "eloquium," which essentially means "speaking well of the dead." You don't have to be an orator to deliver a eulogy. People are there to hear simple words of remembrance that connect them to other mourners and do provide comfort. Yet we all react to the death of a loved one in our own way. This is a time of fragility. Do what feels most comfortable.

***

If you have a question for Florence, please email her at fisaacs@florenceisaacs.com.

Florence Isaacs is the author of several books on etiquette, including My Deepest Sympathies: Meaningful Sentiments for Condolence Notes a.... She writes two advice blogs for Legacy.com: Sincere Condolences and Widow in the World, a blog for bereaved spouses and partners.

Image via Wikimedia Commons, Tomwsulcer

 

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