Four Common Mistakes When Giving a Funeral Speech

memorial tribute errors
Think carefully to avoid an error in giving the memorial tribute

In earlier posts, how to write an inspiring funeral speech was considered, for those speaking at a memorial tribute or funeral service. However, there are certain things should be careful not to do or say when writing or delivering a memorial tribute.

  1. Don’t talk about yourself too much or use inside jokes – The eulogy should focus on the departed, and the other mourners. Avoid statements like “I don’t know what I’ll do without him”, or use of inside jokes between the two of you, that most people will not get.
  2. Don’t tell any stories that could be interpreted as off-color – Everyone who was close to the departed will have frayed nerves and emotions running high during the memorial service, including your funeral speech. They will be less good-humored, or receptive to stories that might be appropriate at another occasion, like a best-man’s toast at a wedding. Cater to the lowest common denominator and be certain that none of your anecdotes can be considered offensive by the friends and family of the deceased.
  3. Don’t make religious (or atheist) assumptions or give strong religious (or atheist) messages – You might be religious (or not), as might the deceased have been, but it’s likely that different friends and family members of the deceased will have different faiths and beliefs. Don’t assume your audience has the same belief system. Telling the atheist spouse of the deceased that their beloved will dwell in the kingdom of heaven for eternity, is unlikely to provide any comfort for them. Similarly, religious mourners will take no comfort if you tell them you believe there is no afterlife. Avoid interpreting the plan of higher powers by staying away from phrases like “it was God’s will” or “God has a plan for all of us”.
  4. Don’t trivialize the loss of the departed – Often in an attempt to comfort the friends and family of the deceased the person delivering the funeral speech, will try to put the loss into perspective, which may some of the mourners feel like you are trying to make the loss seem insignificant. Don’t say things like “While his passing is sad, at least he lived a long life”, “it was his time” or “Perhaps it’s better this way.” In an earlier post, we’ve suggested phrasing appropriate for a funeral speech.
    Don't make the loss seem insignificant
    Be careful not to accidentally make the loss of the deceased seem less significant than it is.

If you follow the advice given in the earlier articles, make use of the resources available, and follow the rules above, you’ll be able to write an inspirational eulogy and avoid offending or alienating any of the audience.