How to Perform a Funeral pt.10

Matane cemetery

Matane cemetery (Photo credit: Bête à Bon-Dieu)

1. Meet With the Family.

2. Distill to One Best Trait/Quality.

3. Include Phsychological Cues.

4. Lead People to Christ/Hope.

5. Select a Text That Ties Best Trait to Christ and Eternal Life.

6. Teach About the New Heaven and New Earth.

7. Know the Basics.

8. Committal – Body and Breath.  Christ on the Cross.

9. Technology.

10. Eulogies.

As I wrap up this series of posts on ministering to our communities through funerals, a few points about eulogies are in order:

A) The First One.

If the family chooses to allow a time for eulogies during the service, make sure they have someone picked out to share the first one.  It is horribly uncomfortable when  the congregation is invited to share positive memories about the deceased only to have a dead silence ensue.  Usually the majority of the people are not wanting to intrude in what is seen as the close families’ prerogative of going first, and the close family are the most overwhelmed by their own emotions and struggle to be able to share.  The result is that it seems as if no one has anything good to say about the person’s life.

B) Being Emotional.

Crying is normal and healthy, and should not be seen as a reason to not share during this time.  In fact, a tear-filled eulogy is more powerful simply because of the depth of feeling that is being conveyed.  Encourage the family to  be free to be emotional, in doing so you are encouraging truth.  That being said, make sure to have a box of tissues handy.

C) Write it down.

Encourage the family members to write out what they want to share, preferably in prose so that another can read it if necessary, but at least in outline form so they don’t freeze up.  The paper will also give them a point of focus other than the casket or the congregation, and that in and of itself can be immensely helpful.

D) Pastoral Reading.

Feel free to offer to read for the family what they have written down if they cannot.  When offering this however, you might want to make sure that you state upfront whether or not you are willing to read profanity or vulgarity and that you will need a copy of it the night before.  Say it tactfully, but it sure beats making the decision on the fly in the midst of reading it in front of the congregation – trust me!

E) Brevity is Beautiful.

In the introduction to the eulogies, make sure to state in an understated way, that these memories should be shared briefly.  Don’t be heavy-handed, just say something like, “Now is the time to share briefly any joy-filled or meaningful memories you have of ______________.”

What would you add to my list of 10 main points in performing a funeral?

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