Funeral Etiquette – Who Should Speak at a Funeral?
Date posted October 2022
Speaking at a funeral is considered a significant privilege. However, this role can also make an overwhelming number of emotions and fears come to the surface.
In reality, no specific rules exist on who should speak at a funeral. That’s because every person is different and will have various wishes and needs following the passing of a loved one.
In some cases, people who would typically speak at a funeral may be unable to due to grief and anxiety about speaking in front of others.
Whatever choice is made on who should speak at a funeral, the emphasis typically focuses on delivering a beautiful and memorable eulogy to celebrate the life of the deceased.
Who delivers the eulogy?
The eulogy is a deeply personal reflection of someone’s life. Family or friends usually give this speech. However, clergy or the funeral celebrant may read it for the family.
As this is a very emotional time, some people may not feel comfortable delivering the eulogy to the congregation. This element takes time to write, and deciding who to read it is also important. Discussing who would like to read the tribute would determine the best person for this task. However, it’s important to remember that some people may also wish to decline the invitation.
Choosing who to speak at a funeral
When choosing who should speak at a funeral, it is best to consider people who are confident at public speaking. However, it’s not ideal to assume that just because someone is good at speaking in public, they will automatically want to deliver the eulogy.
Chat with family members first to find out who is most comfortable. In some cases, you don’t have to pick just one person for this role. For example, if siblings want to split the speech to support each other, this is a lovely way to show solidarity in a difficult time.
If someone doesn’t want to speak in any capacity at a funeral, it’s advisable to respect their decision. Some individuals may feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed by this role or simply be unsure what to say, which may cause friction at an already challenging time.
Sometimes, the deceased will have specific instructions about who they want to read at the funeral. Your loved one will typically have had a conversation about these details before the time of passing so that it’s not a surprise. However, in some cases, it can be unexpected.
There are several speaking elements at a funeral, and one person can deliver every speech or split them between different family members.
Different speaking roles at a funeral
As mentioned above, the eulogy is a memorial speech that covers many aspects of the deceased’s life. Family, friends or a clergy representative can deliver this. However, close family members often decide to give this speech as it adds a more personal touch to the service.
A funeral celebrant or clergy member usually carries out the funeral service. Depending on the type of service you have, this individual talks about the life, beliefs and achievements of the deceased. During the service, songs or hymns may be played, which the congregation can join in with.
Readings are another special part of a funeral service. They are typically short extracts that relate to the deceased. For example, a favourite poem, book quote or lyrics to a song are common options. In religious memorials, Bible extracts are often read. This aspect of the service is usually delivered by family members or close friends and should have a deeply personal connection to the deceased and the reader.
Farewells are a more informal speech, typically made at the wake. This gives friends and colleagues the opportunity to reminisce and celebrate a loved one’s life. They are often short and sweet, and many raise a toast to commemorate the deceased.
Choosing a funeral celebrant to speak at the funeral
If you arrange a non-religious funeral, a funeral celebrant can help you to deliver the appropriate speeches. This individual is qualified to officiate funeral services and assists with writing a eulogy and order of service for the funeral.
Your Bristol funeral director may recommend funeral celebrants, who they will liaise with to ensure everything runs smoothly. If you wish, this individual will deliver the speeches in a personalised manner.
In religious funeral services, the priest or vicar undertakes this role. Like a funeral celebrant, they will deliver the service and can conduct the eulogy and readings if you wish.
How to prepare if you are speaking at a funeral
Speaking at a funeral is an emotional and joyful way to celebrate a loved one’s life. However, preparing for this moment can leave you feeling overwhelmed. To help stabilise your feelings, there are a few things you can do, including:
Practise the speech beforehand
Reading through the speech will give you an idea of how you want to say the words. Plus, it allows you to practise speaking at a steady pace.
Don’t be afraid to be emotional
Everyone in the congregation understands how emotional this time is and if you feel yourself getting emotional, just let it come. After a few seconds, you’ll feel able to compose yourself and carry on.
Take a deep breath
If, at any point during the speech, you feel overwhelmed, stop and take a breath. This will help you focus on the following sentence and finish the speech.
Eat before the funeral
With emotions running high, eating is often an afterthought when preparing for a funeral. However, having a small meal before you go will ensure you don’t feel faint or unwell during this difficult time.
Professional advice when arranging a funeral
Writing and delivering a eulogy or memorial speech is challenging for many. Our funeral directors will assist in making the funeral process as stress-free as possible. That way, you can concentrate on crafting beautiful words to commemorate your loved one. To learn more about our services, contact our experienced team today.