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Writing and Presenting Funeral Messages

Contributor: Tamsen Butler
person writing a funeral message

Organizing funeral messages is a tremendous task, especially for those grieving. However, collaborating with someone special and taking the time to nurture your feelings can prove therapeutic. You may also see the assignment as an opportunity to help others mourn by presenting them with a memorable message.

Funeral Messages

Many words are spoken concluding the death of a friend or family member. Obituaries are traditional ways to inform others of the death, announcing the date and details in local newspapers or online. Memorial speeches, eulogies, poetry, and other sentiments are other conventional ways to pay homage to the deceased. Deciding which words you will use can be complicated.

Funeral Messages Based on Personality

Consider the personality of the deceased. Think about what you might say to that person. Did you have a serious relationship or did you share humor and camaraderie? These factors may help you decide the tone of your message whether light-hearted or somber. Some individuals use humor, recalling stories or jokes that are indicative of the deceased person's life. Whatever the direction of your message, be sure it is in good taste and will not be offensive to attendees. In addition, if you opt for humor, explain your motives. You might begin your message by saying: "Because dad had a sharp sense of humor, I decided to communicate my message with humor." Or, if the deceased would have wanted a brief, thoughtful message, you might begin with, "Uncle Larry wanted things quick to the point and didn't want anyone wasting his time, so I won't waste yours by going on and on."

Poetry as a Funeral Message

Don't discount the words of another. Finding familiar poems may help you inject romance, nostalgia or other deep sentiments in a way that may be difficult for you. The library, internet, and bookstore are great places to find a plethora of poetry.

Interview Loved Ones

While it may be difficult for some individuals to discuss the life or death of the deceased, conversations can be cathartic. Consider interviewing close family members or friends of the deceased to chronicle their memories. You might also talk to individuals who are unable to attend the service, such as nurses, neighbors, or old acquaintances of the deceased. Their unique stories and sentiments can add depth and dimension to your funeral message. You might consider recording the interviews and playing clips at the funeral if you have the time and talent to pull it all together beforehand.

Presenting Funeral Messages

After you have wrested with word choices, selected appropriate verses and seasoned your message with kind sentiments, you will have another task: The presentation. Communicating your funeral message cordially will allow your thoughts to shine. A poor presentation can distract mourners and minimize your message. The following are some points to help you present your message:

Practice the Message

The first and most important step to prepare you for delivering your funeral message is practice. Speak to yourself in a mirror, or better yet-present it to other friends or family members.

Timing Is Important

You likely have much to say about the deceased. However, your funeral message should not dominate the service. After you have written the message, time it. If it takes you longer than five minutes to present it, consider trimming it to include key points.

Engage Your Audience

Man delivering a funeral message

Engross yourself in your message, so as not to sound mechanical when speaking. To make your message intimate, engage your audience. Use eye contact and smiles to connect with others.

Relax and Focus

Take deep breaths to calm yourself if you feel overwhelmed. Speak slowly and focus on relaxing. If seeing your emotional loved ones sitting there makes it too difficult to speak, find something on the back wall to focus on instead as you speak.

Be Authentic

Delivering an emotional message may be difficult. However, don't be afraid to let a few tears fall or your hands shake slightly. Your audience will appreciate your sincerity.

Humor Can Help

Laugh at yourself to break the ice and relieve stage fright. It's OK to introduce yourself as "nervous Nelly." If you never spoke publicly, tell your audience, it may help ease the tension.

Funeral Messages for Flowers and Sympathy Cards

Whether you're sending a sympathy card in lieu of attending the funeral or you need to write something on the card accompanying flowers you'll send, finding the words can be tough when so much emotion is involved. Whatever you write will be appreciated as long as your words are genuine and comforting. Writing a long letter is appropriate if you were close to the deceased or the family left behind, but if you're at a loss for words for something short to include within a card, consider one of the following or revise them to your liking:

  • "He was a blessing to the world and it won't be the same without him."
  • "I was fortunate to know her and she will be missed."
  • "I am here for you at this time of loss. Please lean on me if you need help."
  • "From dust we came, and to dust we shall all return."
  • "A truly great woman who changed the world around her for the better."

A Final Tribute

If you are expected to deliver funeral messages, don't fret. Instead, focus on honoring the deceased, connecting with others and healing.

Writing and Presenting Funeral Messages