Guest Speaker or Eulogist

Another important choice is the person or people who will write and deliver a speech – a eulogy – about the life of the person who has died. The speech is ideally given by someone who knew the person well enough to gather and share memories and highlights of his/her life.

Sometimes the choice is obvious within the family. There is often one person who seems to be the unofficial family spokesperson. In other cases, the family needs to look further to find the right person to have the honor. Another family member, a lifelong friend or a trusted co-worker might have the perfect combination for the job – a deep knowledge of the person who died and good writing and public speaking abilities. In some cases, the officiant, who may be a priest, minister, or professional celebrant, will give the eulogy.

Many families choose to have more than one speaker to cover different aspects of their loved ones’ life. One way to do this is to follow the main eulogy with a couple of shorter presentations; perhaps a grandson reading a letter or a daughter reading Mom’s favorite poem. In all, no more than 30 minutes should be planned for the Eulogy part of the service.

One last word of advice about eulogies: keep in mind that even though a family member may wish to speak at the funeral to help with the healing process, he or she may be too emotionally distressed to speak when the time comes. It’s a good idea to have another speaker ready to step in and finish the speech if necessary.