Eulogies & Obituaries
Giving a meaningful eulogy, or writing an obituary, can be a nerve-wracking situation for even the most accomplished public speaker. We have gathered some resources to help you along the way.
Like everything in society, funeral etiquette has evolved over time. While common sense is your best guide, here are a few dos and don'ts of funeral etiquette.
- Express your condolences – It’s not easy to come up with the right words for someone who has just lost a loved one. You don’t need to be a poet. Simply saying, “I am sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family”, is enough. If you can’t be at a funeral service in person, sending a card or leaving a message on a memorial website is a perfect way to express your sympathy.
- Dress appropriately if possible– Gone are the days of dressing up in all black for a funeral, but one should still dress appropriately. There are always situations when one may not have time to change into a suit or dress. In those situations, the loved one’s family can be understanding and even thankful that you have made the effort to offer your respects in person.
- Sign the register book – The family will keep the register book as a memento for years. Be sure to include your full name and relationship to the deceased. Feel free to leave a message.
- Send flowers or make a memorial donation – You don’t need to go overboard with your gift - it is the thought that counts. Suitable gifts include: flowers; a donation to the charity of the family’s choice, or you can make a commitment of service to the family at a later date. A commitment of service can be something as simple as cooking dinner for them or any of the “little” things that may be neglected while a family deals with death. Make sure you provide a signed card so the family knows who gave the gift.
- Keep in Touch – You may feel that the family needs their space and time to grieve, but a simple phone call or note after the funeral lets the family know you care. With social networking, leaving a quick note is as simple as a click of a mouse. The months following a death is when grieving friends and family need the most support.
- Bring your cell phone – Your phone ringing will be highly inappropriate and will cause a disturbance. Turn any ringers or notifications off. Even better, leave your phone at home or in your car. A funeral is not the time to be texting or checking your messages.
- Be afraid to remember the good times – Funerals are obviously a time of grieving and mourning, but remembering the good times helps with the healing process. Sharing a funny and appropriate story is acceptable, and in some cases, it's exactly what the deceased would have wanted.
- Use clichés - Keep your condolences simple and to the point. “I’m sorry” is much better than saying “They are in a better place” or some other cliché.
Writing an obituary is a difficult and emotional task. During your arrangements with the funeral director, the funeral director will ask numerous questions, some are for legal paperwork and other are for the obituary. Some of the questions might include the deceased’s childhood, education, career, hobbies and interests. Usually the funeral director writes the first draft of the obituary and then forwards a draft by email to family members so that they can review, edit, personalize, and make their loved one’s obituary accurate and memorable. When the family is finished with their revisions, they send back the final version of the obituary to the funeral home which will placed on the funeral home website, selected newspapers, and other social media requested.
Edward V. Sullivan
43 Winn Street
Burlington, MA 01803
Ph: (781) 272-0050