Writing funeral messages can feel overwhelming, especially for those grieving. However, collaborating with someone special and taking the time to nurture your feelings can prove therapeutic. Whether you're giving a funeral service sermon, writing some special words to go with a bouquet of flowers, or creating any other type of funeral message, it helps to see this as an opportunity to help others mourn by presenting them with a memorable message.
Types of Funeral Messages
There are lots of different kinds of funeral messages, but all of them are easier with a little inspiration. 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 also pay homage to the deceased.
Funeral Service Sermons
If you've been asked to give a short funeral sermon and don't have a lot of previous experience doing this, it can feel overwhelming. Officiating a funeral is an important job. The key is remembering that you're giving comfort to grieving family members and friends and speaking about someone you knew. Keeping these personal connections in mind is what creates a powerful funeral sermon.
There are a few funeral sermon topics that work well to create a sense of healing and comfort:
- Gratitude - Many encouraging funeral sermons focus on gratitude for a life well-lived and the many contributions and connections within that life. You can speak about how gratitude can be healing during a time of challenge.
- Strength - The emotional strength of the person who has passed away can be an inspiration for those left to mourn. It also allows you to speak about what makes someone resilient and may help people see these qualities in themselves.
- Religious comfort - If you belong to a faith that believes in eternal life or Heaven, this can be a great comfort to people. Talk about the faith of the person who has passed away and the possibility of seeing that person again in the afterlife.
- Community - Supporting one another during times of challenge is an important part of any congregation, whether it's religious or not. Discuss how the community has come together to endure this loss.
Eulogies and Memorial Speeches
If you're not officiating the funeral or memorial service but have been asked to speak, it can still feel intimidating. You'll be standing up in front of a group of people and talking about the person who has passed away and the way that person impacted their community. It's essential that you make this type of funeral message meaningful.
When you're writing a eulogy, there are a few topics you can choose that will always resonate with people who are listening:
- Characteristics of the person - Every person is unique. Focus on what made this person special to those around them. This will create an instant and important connection with people at the service.
- Special memories - Many of the best funeral and memorial service messages contain personal memories about the person who has passed away. In fact, sharing a personal memory is a great way to end a eulogy or provide a transition to the next part of the funeral service.
- Ways the person will be remembered - You can provide comfort and encouragement by talking about the future and the ways the person who has died will impact those in the room.
Obituaries and Death Notices
When there's a death in a community, it helps to communicate this loss with an obituary or death notice. You can include details about the funeral for those who are interested in attending. Writing an obituary can be a healing process, and it's helpful for people who read it as well.
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. However, there's nothing wrong with a short funeral message if you're at a loss for words.
Consider one of the following funeral messages for cards or flowers:
- "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."
- "She was a truly great woman who changed the world around her for the better."
Funeral Service Readings and Prayers
You can also rely on special readings and prayers to speak for you at a funeral or memorial service. Depending on the beliefs of the person who has passed away, these may be readings from a religious text or some other important piece of writing.
Keep the following ideas in mind if you'll be giving a memorial service reading:
- Poetry - 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 bookstores are great places to find a plethora of poetry.
- Bible verses - You can read an uplifting Bible verse as part of your funeral service message. Consider speaking to family and friends about which messages might be the most meaningful.
- Prayers - You can read a prayer that may offer peace to those listening. Be aware that if people at the funeral are of different faiths, a non-denominational prayer may be the best choice.
Inspiration for Funeral and Memorial Service Messages
Deciding which words you will use can feel complicated, but creating a meaningful funeral service message is about making sure your message represents the person who has died. Let this person inspire you.
Personality of the Deceased Person
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 lighthearted 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 and to the point and didn't want anyone wasting his time, so I won't waste yours by going on and on."
Interviews With 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 wrestled 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
Emotionally invest 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.
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 have never spoken publicly, tell your audience. Being honest about your nerves may help ease the tension.
Make Your Funeral Message 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.