If you’re asked to give a funeral speech or to say a few words at a funeral tea or wake, here’s a top tip.
I was officiating at a wedding ceremony for my friends Niall and Willie on Friday. The sparkling hot sunshine seemed so apt for their Big Day – it was bursting with warmth, happiness and the gorgeous space they had created to welcome and celebrate with friends and family was blooming with sunny flowers and plants – all hand-reared for the occasion to dress the space and be the ‘favours’ to take away and remember the occasion.
Niall and Willie are such an easy, happy, friendly couple and are so genuinely interested in connecting people that even with 80 people there, it felt like family. They were doing their Big Day the way I encourage people to do their Final Fling … it was spirited, creative and very much a ‘My Way’ vibe.
It had their personality splattered all over it… celebratory, fun, thoughtful, colourful, quirky, stylish. Niall did a lovely thing at the speeches that I’ve never seen before – which on reflection seems weird because it’s so obvious. I think this is a great idea for a funeral speech. Rather than telling their story, or having a Best Man telling bad jokes about their raucous behaviour in their youth, Niall went round the whole room acknowledging their guests and sharing with us the important part they had played in their lives so far. What a lovely way to make introductions.
This way, we all got to know that Anna was one of his bridesmaids because they’d known each other since they were kids in Selkirk and that Jodie was one of Willie’s bridesmaids because they’d studied design together, and that his friends from Seattle were a model and a famous sex column expert. Not only is this interesting stuff, it makes it so much easier when we got to mingling afterwards. “Ah yes, so you went travelling with Niall in your 20s…” “Am I right in thinking you were the person who first commissioned a hat from Willie?”
Doesn’t matter if you get it wrong or right, it just gets the conversation started.
So next time you’re asked to give a funeral speech at a send off or life celebration, as well as a tribute to the person who last Big Day it is – think about how you can introduce the guests to each other and acknowledge the important part they’ve played in their dear departed’s life. It’s so inclusive and a great way to make everyone at the gathering feel special.