The Funeral Planning Guide: Feeling Compelled to Speak

The funeral of a loved one often comes as a complete surprise.  Rarely do we plan for the untimely passing of family and friends.  And even when someone close to us has been ill for some time and warnings have been given to prepare for their passing, death can still come as a shock to most of us.

When planning to attend the funeral of your friend or family member, you may want to prepare a few words to say.  For some people the thought of standing in front of room of people and speaking in any circumstance is nothing short of terrifying.  Considering doing so in the midst of grief can seem impossible.  However, many people are surprised to discover that during the funeral services they in fact sometimes feel compelled to speak.  If this happens to you, it’s best to be prepared ahead of time.

What do I say?

Perhaps you feel like you should share something – anything – but you feel at a loss for knowing what to say.  Preparing a few words before you go to the funeral, even if you have no intention at all of speaking, will help give you the confidence you need to face your fears so that you can honor your lost loved one or friend.  Here are a few ideas of things to say:

Tell a story – If you have known the deceased for many, many years and have dozens of stories to choose from, this is a good option for you.  Family and friends enjoy hearing funny stories, or heartwarming stories about the departed.  Just be sure that the humor is appropriate for all in attendance, and that the humor is meant in a loving way – gentle teasing about personality traits, or adventure tales from younger days are usually good options.

Read a Poem or Religious Passage – If you can’t think of a story to tell, you may want to select a poem or religious passage to read.  The selection to reflect the personality of or your affections for the deceased.  A nice added touch is to make a nice copy – perhaps laminated or framed – as a gift for the family.

When do I say something?

If the funeral has a religious ceremony as part of the services, generally the time for volunteers to come to the front of the group will be saved for after the ceremonies are completed.

It is usually polite to wait to allow all family members to speak first.  If you are a family member, you may want to arrange with your other family members ahead of time in which order you will be speaking.  If you are a friend or acquaintance of the deceased, then it is best to wait for a pause that seems of some minimal length before volunteering to speak.

How do I start?  How do I finish?

When you first approach the front of the group, it is polite to introduce yourself and your relationship to the deceased.  You can include the length of time that you knew him or her, as well as any brief words relating to the person’s character.  For example:

“Hello, my name is Dan and I have worked with Steven for the last fifteen years at Harper and Harper.  Dan was such a warm and generous person, and he is truly missed by all of us at work.”

The best way to finish your time in front of the group is to express your sympathies to the family before taking your seat.  For example:

“Linda, Debbie, I am so sorry for your loss.  Steven was a good man and a great friend, and I feel truly blessed to have known him.”

Being prepared to speak at the funeral of a family member or friend will help you cope with your grief.  Speaking at a funeral is one way many people find closure and acceptance of their loss.  It is also a wonderful way to honor the memory of your loved one.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of funeral planning.

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