How to Avoid Becoming Emotional When Delivering a Eulogy
There is nothing in life that compares to the loss of a loved one in terms of crisis or sorrow. But it is also, perhaps, the time when we need courage the most. Emotions run high when we suffer a loss. That is human nature. But what if you are asked to deliver a eulogy? How can you stand in front of family and friends and deliver a memorial speech that is fitting – that tells intimate stories of the one you knew so well – and keep your composure?
Let’s be honest. Most can’t. Most people would not even attempt to stand up and give a funeral speech to family and loved ones. They know they would break down emotionally and not be able to complete the eulogy at all. Writing a eulogy is difficult enough. Standing there and giving that eulogy is something quite different. Following are a few tips on how to do it.
Look at Sample Eulogies
When writing a eulogy, it is important to see what others have done. The internet is a great place for getting eulogy examples so that when you write your tribute speech, you’ll know you are doing what is typically expected. Having eulogy examples and patterning your funeral speech after them is the first step in having confidence in what you’re doing. You can find some great eulogy examples HERE. There are dozens of other sample eulogies you can find by doing a simple Google search.
Begin by Knowing The Purpose of the Eulogy you are Giving:
You need to ask yourself: “Why am I going to stand in front of people talking about the one we’ve all lost?” Answer it this way: “Because I knew him/her, loved him/her, was closer to him/her than just about anyone else. I alone am most suited to deliver a great eulogy.” The one you lost DESERVES a great eulogy. You have the honor of paying that final tribute to him or her because of your unique relationship. In addition, there is a certain healing property to hearing the words of a great eulogy. When you give a funeral speech you are ministering to the people who hear it – bringing healing and hope and peace into their lives in some small way.
If you view your eulogy as a way of giving comfort to others – of paying tribute to the one who has died, you will have the confidence of having a mission for good that will give you a sense of calm reassurance that you can do the job.
As a Practical Matter - Keep a Water Bottle With You:
You need to keep the muscles of your throat relaxed. When you are under stress, your nervous system opens up the glottis which is a muscle that controls the opening from your throat’s back to the voice box. And if the glottis opens, it feels like a lump in your throat. Drink some cold water to relax the muscles of your throat and calm your nerves.
Place your bottle of water on the podium so it is close to you. If you should begin to choke up during the memorial speech, just take a sip of water to give yourself a few seconds to re-gain composure.
Be Familiar with the Eulogy - Practice, Practice, Practice:
Before the delivery of your eulogy, try to read it over aloud so often that it flows from your lips quite naturally.
If you know your written eulogy well, you will feel more secure during your tribute speech in that, even if you should briefly lose your place you can go on simply because you automatically know what comes next. In addition, familiarity with the written eulogy speech will make it possible to make eye contact with the people sitting there.
Use Humor as Appropriate:
Using humor does not mean that you should put on a show for the audience. It means that, after you have introduced yourself and told the audience about your relationship with the deceased, you can ‘lighten’ the mood a bit with a short and appropriate memory of your loved one that is humorous. A humorous story will also relax you and calm your nerves as you say words to celebrate a life well lived. This is especially a powerful tool for those people who have a fear of stage or someone who is certain that they will break down during the funeral speech.
Make Eye Contact – Receive Positive Feedback:
Usually eye contact is thought to be used to make the audience feel included, but it is also an extremely powerful way to get through your speech without breaking down. Before the service, pick out a few family members or friends whose strength and self-control you admire the most. Ask them where they are going to sit during the ceremony. And then when you start your eulogy and feel like your emotions are about to take over, you can always make eye contact with them. This simple connection that you make with your loved ones will help you get back on track and help you continue with your tribute.
Note: Make sure that you do not make eye contact with someone who is clearly emotional. If you do, it is very possible that your emotions will become stronger and you may break down as well. So if you see your loved ones getting emotional, pass over them and make contact with someone else.
Focus on Your Breathing:
Inexperienced speakers will often tend to hold their breath while delivering a speech. Doing so can make you exhausted and breathless as you go along. It will hinder your speech and may make you seem awkward. So pay attention to your breathing. If you begin to get emotional, stop for a moment, take a deep breath as you compose yourself, and resume your funeral speech.
Speak Slowly and Distinctly:
When you are delivering a eulogy, speak slowly. There is a tendency to speed up one’s speech patterns in stressful situations. Try to speak slowly and calmly. Rushing through your memorial speech will not only increase the chances of your stumbling, but it will also make it hard for the audience to understand what you are trying to say. Paying attention to one’s diction is a great tool for keeping composed.
Have a Backup Speaker:
It is always a great idea to have a contingency plan. You are not delivering an ordinary speech. It is a memorial speech about your loved one. But, let’s face it. You are human. Even after following all the aforementioned techniques, there is still room for getting emotional. Having a backup speaker ready to complete the remainder of your eulogy for you is something you should opt for.
No one will judge you or fault you for getting emotional. Instead, everyone will praise you and your partner for being so well prepared and not letting your emotions get in the way of paying a great tribute to the person you all love. In the end, it is all about celebrating the life of the departed and remembering them in your best words.
Above all, always remember that you are in a room full of loved ones who are sending positive thoughts towards you. It is completely normal to get choked up or emotional as memorial services are packed with emotions. Your only goal is not to allow your emotions to take over so you can deliver your eulogy speech clearly. Just keep calm and follow the tips mentioned above and you have a better than even chance of delivering a wonderful eulogy speech.
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Writers: Steve Schafer, Ralph DiBiasio-Snyder, Abi Galeas, Miriam Hill Steve's Personal Cell Phone: (734) 846-3072 Our email address is: Write4Me@TheEulogyWriters.com