Writing for a funeral has changed over the years, and people now show great creativity when burying a loved one. Where once any not-so-good qualities of the deceased were omitted from the funeral speeches now everything is mentioned including the less good points of the deceased, often highlighted in a funny story.
How To Announce Funeral Services?
Announcing the funeral service often depends on the nature of the death. If the deceased has been sick for many months, and the death is anticipated, it is sometimes announced in a short online social media post, to be followed by plans to celebrate their life, later.
If the death is sudden, there are numerous people to be notified, and even a simple announcement will have to wait until family and friends have been told of the sad event. This is where a good funeral home can assist with the initial announcement and planning of a theme.
- If you want to, create a theme based on the deceased person’s hobbies, for example, floral for a keen gardener. Send the card out to all contacts announcing the death and the date of the funeral service.
- Make sure that you notify everyone concerned, in a small town use the local newspaper to print a death notice. For more information about death notices, check out our post here.
- Make sure that you allow time for people to gather and attend the service. If people are coming from another state, they will need about ten days’ notice to organize leave, flights, and accommodation.
- Make sure that you add a good photo of the departed to the top part of the funeral card. You may need to get the funeral cards professionally printed.
- Once the venue, date, and time are chosen, you can concentrate on planning the service.
How To Write A Funeral Speech?
Families like to play an active part in preparation for the funeral of a loved family member, and this helps to personalize the service.
The service need not cost a fortune, and whether it is a burial or a cremation, it needs to be planned down to the last detail.
When writing a eulogy, you are paying a tribute to someone who has died, and these are the main points to keep in mind.
- Describe the person’s qualities
- Speak from the heart
- Talk about their history and career
- Focus on family relationships and friendships
- Mention things that you have learned from them
- Thank people who have traveled to be there today
- Any appropriate funny stories
- Keep it real, it shouldn’t be glossed over.
- Thank everyone for their support
A good eulogy will usually be about 10 minutes in length, any longer and the congregation becomes restless. Younger family members can be called upon to do short readings like a psalm or a parable, nothing long.
What To Include In The Eulogy Or Funeral Speech?
- Start with their life story, go back to the early days and where they were born and grew up.
- Look at their relationship with family and friends next, you may be the son of the deceased and you can talk about his good qualities as a parent and what you did together.
- Career accomplishments, for those that have them, are always an interesting point. Have everything carefully typed up, as the day will be extremely emotional, and if you are using a celebrant they can take over if you find you are unable to continue with the tribute due to distress.
- Achievements and Hobbies like golfing prowess, fishing, or coaching the under 15s football team to its first grand final are all interesting to friends.
- Favorite memories like your road trip to Canada when you were 12 and seeing a Bear in a picnic area.
- Favorite sayings, and favorite TV programs from the old days, Jackie Gleason in the ‘Honeymooners’
People of all ages and backgrounds will be part of your audience, and you will know how well your Eulogy was received when you get feedback afterward over coffee and cakes.
Creating A Funeral Service Program
Creating memories is an important part of how to write for a funeral, and before the funeral, you need to spend some time reminiscing about the deceased with family and friends. This is an important exercise in jogging your memory, and others from the past will remember events and times gone by and can add value to what you are compiling, so take a notebook with you. It is interesting what comes up in these conversations. When gathering information for a eulogy being written for a very old uncle who had worked as a historian, I was interviewing a Forensic Doctor of Medicine who had been a long-ago work colleague, and I asked how they had met. The doctor said, ‘ I was attending one of his lectures on early bushrangers at the Museum’. The hapless bushranger’ had been shot by police when arrested in the 1860s. My uncle pulled out the victim’s skull from under the lectern to show the students where the bullet went in. The doctor had never forgotten the impact of this lecture, and they remained firm lifelong friends.
So, the right stories can be illuminating and entertaining, and it is hard to organize your thoughts at short notice. You will need to write around three drafts of your eulogy before it really comes together. Once you have the input from reminiscing you will know what to use and what to discard, as you will get a lot of information that you probably won’t use. Take the time to be sure that it makes sense and try it out on your family to see if it holds their attention.
How To Write For A Funeral?
Once you have perfected your speech, practice it, as you will need to speak slowly and clearly when you deliver it at the funeral service.
Time the length of the speech with a timer and deliver it in the mirror to be sure that you have your delivery right. Save a copy on your PC in case anyone requests it. Of course, none of this is easy, especially when you have lost a sibling or a parent, but you will get it done, as this is what your parent would have expected of you.
How To Sign Funeral Thank You Cards?
If you are wondering how to write for a funeral, there are different ways of signing funeral thank you cards. If you are planning to send handwritten cards to everyone who expressed sympathy and attended the funeral, have attendance sheets typed up for everyone to record their details on the day of the funeral. That way it streamlines the process and makes it more efficient to send individual thanks to attendees.
If it is an extremely large funeral, over 1,000 people you may want to get the cards printed and just sign them individually. However, this can be overwhelming, and you may need to enlist a family member to help with the task.
If you are handwriting all your cards from scratch this is what to do:
- Start with a name, for example, ‘Dear Jane’
- Acknowledge the part they played saying, ‘thank you for……….’
- Conclude by thanking them for their support or friendship.
- Sign your name
Try not to write too many cards in one sitting, as handwriting is hard work when we are all used to typing, and ten in a session is enough for one day. There are a lot of different phrases that you can use, depending on what the person has done to support you.
If the person has sent flowers, make a special note of this, and thank them for the beautiful roses, daisies, or whatever the flower was. Go on to say that the flowers cheered you up at the terrible time and brightened your day.
You may want to go on to say thank you for supporting our family during this difficult time or thank you for sharing some precious memories with me following my mother’s untimely passing.
Personalizing the cards is actually a very important part of the grieving process and helps to bring closure not only to you but to the person you are writing to. In Victorian times special stationery was printed with a black border to denote the mourning period, and it was only used to write to someone who had lost a loved one.
Customs That Help With Thank You Cards
A condolence style visitors book, placed at the entrance of the church, and supervised by a volunteer will help you greatly when you come to write the thank you cards. The book has a place for name, address, and another column to write a few words about the deceased. This journal gives you clearer context as to your deceased relative’s relationship with the person attending the funeral and will jog your memory when writing the thank you cards. This is of particular benefit at a larger funeral where there can be up to 500 people, and all of them knew your late relative in some capacity or another. If your departed father had been a popular school principal, a lot of the mourners will be current and past students, and sometimes the task of writing to everyone without a few prompts is overwhelming. So, the journal will contain a few words that put the person writing in it into context as an ex-student or a fellow staff member of the deceased.
Thanking Those Who Have Made Charitable Donations
In some cases, a family friend or colleague may have set up a charitable page or donation fund in memory of your loved one. You will usually find in these cases that many people donate, including some that you may not even know. In these circumstances how to write for a funeral is quite specific as these people must be thanked. If you can’t individually identify all the people, wait until you can respond and then
create a well-thought-out message of appreciation to post online thanking them for caring. Add a few photos and some stories about your loved ones’ life to share as a memento. Ask a younger family member to help you with this task, as sometimes it may be overwhelming to do alone.
If your family member was sick for a long time prior to passing, there is probably a long list of caretakers and people who have done things to help, often in a paid capacity. These people should be singled out for special thanks, as caretakers are amazing people, and you may even feel that a small gift is in order. If your relative has spent a long time in Hospital prior to passing, a letter of thanks to the facility via the official channels is in order.
Spend some time drafting this letter to reflect the standard of care given to your family member during their long illness.
Sometimes you won’t feel that you can write immediately, but after some time elapses you will be able to put pen to paper.
How to write for a funeral doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and most of us need some space before we are able to put pen to paper.
However, when you are ready expressing gratitude can help you to move forward and take the next step. There is a lot to do when someone close to you dies and it takes some time both physically and emotionally to reconcile and come to terms with the loss. Some people find that writing is extremely helpful, as it clarifies our thoughts and aids recovery.