Writing a tribute for a loved one’s funeral can be a difficult and emotional task. Trying to decide which memories to share and which exact words to use isn’t always easy. To support you through the process, we’ve put together an expert guide on how to write a funeral tribute.
Making a start is often the hardest part when writing a funeral tribute, but take your time and don’t rush into writing straight away.
Talking with friends and family can be a great way to start reflecting on what to include within a tribute. It’s likely that each person that encountered your loved one will remember them in a slightly different way. Perhaps there are some particularly memorable events which other family members or friends hold close to their heart.
It’s worth noting down any life details and memories shared by family and friends, even though you may not need to include them all. You’ll be able to pick out your favourite and most important ones after spending some time reflecting on them.
Now it’s time to reminisce on your own favourite memories of your loved one. This may be an emotional task, so make sure you take things at your own pace. Sometimes it can help to visit places that remind you of your loved one, as this can help to trigger memories.
Remember, this tribute is entirely unique to your loved one. Don’t feel pressured to only include major life details, anything that helps people to understand the type of person your loved one was is worth including. In addition, a funeral tribute doesn’t need to have a serious or solemn tone. If your loved one enjoyed having fun or making jokes, you should include this within your list of memories.
As previously mentioned, the whole process of writing a tribute can be hard when dealing with grief. At each step of the task, make sure you take breaks and speak to someone you trust, if you need support.
Once you’ve collated your list of memories and details to include, you can start piecing the tribute together. You could start by planning it out and deciding what will be covered within each section. Perhaps you want to keep things chronological, or maybe you’d rather have three or four key points — it’s entirely your choice.
And when you’re ready to write your first draft, don’t expect perfection straight away. It doesn’t matter how many tries it takes before things start to seem right, just remember to take your time.
It can be tempting to prioritise grammar when writing your funeral tribute, but this is by no means the most important element. Instead, try to write as you speak and keep the tone conversational. This helps to bring a sense of authenticity and makes it easier for the audience to feel your emotions. Imagine you’re speaking with friends about your loved one — that’s the type of tone you want to achieve.
There is no right or wrong answer for what should be included within a funeral tribute, but as a basis you may like to include the following:
A funeral tribute is usually around three to five minutes long, with the longest being around ten minutes. It’s worth checking with the funeral director how long you’ll have to speak, as some venues will allocate a specific amount of time for the funeral as a whole.
It’s important that you keep the audience engaged with a speech that isn’t too long. It’s still possible to mention a variety of stories and memories within a matter of minutes, just make sure that you avoid spending too long on each individual point.
The tribute is usually read by a close family member, friend or the minister. Of course, reading out a tribute might make you feel emotional. For this reason, you can ask someone else to read it on your behalf. Or, you may like to ask another family member or friend to be on hand to step in if needed.
We hope this guide has helped you to better understand the process of writing a funeral tribute for a loved one. Remember to take your time, keep it conversational and embrace the wonderful memories you shared together.
“Hello, I’m Hannah, John’s eldest daughter. My brother Tom and I would like to thank you for coming today. This was painful to write and I’m going to struggle reading it, so please bear with me. My brother is on hand to take over if need be. I’m going to tell you a couple of amusing stories about my Dad because he was rarely ever serious. He liked nothing better than making people laugh and playing jokes on us all. And I think he’d want to make us chuckle today. He was always there to put a smile on your face, sometimes without planning to. Like the time when…”
“It feels like I’ve lost my right arm. We complemented each other so well. I’ve always been highly strung and Jack was my calm. We argued as couples do, but only about the little things. I already miss him leaving wet towels on the floor and I wish he was there so I could moan about how he stacked the dishwasher for the millionth time! I’m going to share with you something that he did that was close to his heart that many people didn’t know he did. Jack was a volunteer for a local charity…”
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for being here today. This is unimaginable for most parents and we are only managing to keep going because of your love and support. Mia made life fun and we are devastated she is gone. But we don’t want her death to be in vain. Take a look at the information on the leaflets provided to see how you can continue to help in her memory. I’m now going to share a couple of happy memories with you…”
“The first thing I noticed about my friend Emma was her laugh. Her laugh was so joyous that her whole body would shake and her eyes would light up. It was infectious; you couldn’t stay sad around her. That’s the Emma I want to celebrate today: someone who lived life to the fullest. I’m going to tell you a story from when we went travelling together after university. I’d never imagined I’d ever be scaling sand dunes at night on the beach, dressed as a nun, but these were the kind of incidents you’d find yourself in with Emma back then…”
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