Eulogy & funeral poetry readings

Listening to a carefully composed eulogy and funeral poetry readings can provide immeasurable comfort for those in mourning. Not only can it help the bereaved give expression to their grief, but it can also provide an extremely effective way of gaining closure.

Performing a eulogy and funeral poetry readings

Have you been asked to deliver a funeral eulogy or funeral poetry readings, but are panicking at the prospect? If so, please don’t doubt your capabilities or pass on this final opportunity to pay a lasting tribute.

As succinctly summarised by the 19th century American authoress, Harriet Beecher Stowe, ‘The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone’. In other words, it’s almost unheard of for anyone asked to deliver a eulogy and funeral poetry readings to regret accepting such an honour.

Eulogy definition

The word ‘eulogy’ is derived from the Latin ‘eulogium’, meaning ‘praise’ and consists of a written or spoken tribute, usually delivered by a friend, colleague or relative. Eulogies typically take the form of personal recollections.

Help with composing a powerful eulogy

  • Take comfort in the fact that even the most articulate in our midst may be rendered speechless in such a challenging situation. You are no different
  • Remember – simplicity and sincerity go hand-in-hand when composing eulogies; never underestimate the powerful effect of a brief, yet heartfelt eulogy
  • Reminisce with those closest to the deceased; make notes
  • Focus on just a few significant anecdotes or characteristics that single out the deceased as a truly unique and remarkable individual
  • Create a rough draft and hone until you’re satisfied with the final version
  • Practise in front of friends and family; ensure that your diction is clear and that your voice projection is appropriate for the size of the funeral venue
  • Time yourself when practising; maintain a measured pace, throughout; resist the temptation to quicken your delivery
  • Produce several copies of the written eulogy; also give copies to the funeral director, funeral officiant, etc
  • Don’t be afraid of using your written eulogy as a ‘prop’ to contain ‘last- minute nerves’. No-one expects you to extemporise or ad-lib in such demanding circumstances
  • Popular funeral poetry

    Certain poems and excerpts are recognised for their extraordinary healing power and for their capacity to convey the universal truths and emotions associated with bereavement. Examples include:
  • ‘All Things Pass’ (Lao-Tzu)
  • ‘No Longer Mourn Me When I Am Dead’ (William Shakespeare)
  • ‘Fear No More the Heat O’ The Sun’ (William Shakespeare)
  • ‘Death Be Not Proud’ (John Donne)
  • ‘Crossing The Bar’ (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
  • ‘We See But Dimly’ (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
  • ‘Remember Me When I am Gone Away’ (Christina Rossetti)
  • ‘Funeral Blues’ (W.H. Auden)
  • ‘When I Have Fears’ (Noël Coward)
  • ‘Promise You Won’t Forget About Me, Ever’ (A.A. Milne)
  • ‘Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep’ (Mary Elizabeth Frye)
  • ‘You Meant So Much’ (Cassie Mitchell)
  • ‘I Am There’ (Iris Hesselden)