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Today some ministers preach sermons instead of giving true eulogies at funerals

The message given by a member of the clergy or some other person at a funeral is still called a eulogy. However, today most messages given at funerals are sermons instead.

A true eulogy is not a sermon
Margaret Minnicks

A true eulogy is a well-crafted speech intended to commemorate a loved one who has died. It is usually presented at a memorial service or funeral by someone who was close to the deceased and knew him well. A true eulogy does not have to be given by the pastor. However, an ordained person is responsible for the committal to the grave.

A true eulogy is a speech given to honor the deceased. Most people don't know that the speech made at a person's retirement or birthday party is also called a eulogy. Therefore, people don't have to be dead to be eulogized.

The reason most eulogies today are not true eulogies is because the person speaking does not know the person that well. The pastor of mega-churches might know of the person, but he doesn't know the person intimately. He doesn't know the deceased's family and friends, and he might not have sat at the death bed of the person being eulogized. He might not know stories about the person in the coffin in front of him.

Knowing the deceased helps to deliver a true eulogy. If the person giving the eulogy doesn't know the person being eulogized, he can talk to family and friends before the funeral to find out some personal information to share with those in attendance. Then the eulogist can include a condensed life history of the person including favorite memories and intimate details that are appropriate to share. A true eulogy includes reminders of a person's life to help the family cope with the loss. The person's favorite poems, songs, quotes or Bible verses are good things to remind the family of.

The most touching and meaningful eulogies are delivered from the heart. Some people prefer to prepare and deliver a serious eulogy while others want to keep the tone light. A mixture of both elements, solemnity and humor, is usually best. It allows the audience to grieve appropriately but to also share in the celebration of a life well lived. A eulogy allows the audience to remember the person; who he was, what he did and what he enjoyed about life.

So, what do you say about sermons at funerals? Sermons are always welcomed but not always appropriate. Those who are grieving want to hear something that will lighten their hearts and lift their burdens. Surely knowing about the Israelites wandering forty years in the wilderness is a good Bible study, but what is the life application for those who are hurting today? Surely, if the preacher can bring Bible stories into the now to make it relevant to the deceased, it would be appropriate.

Would you prefer a sermon at your funeral, or would you like a true eulogy? What about a mixture of both?

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