Losing a father or father-figure is a difficult time in life. Your dad likely played a large part in who you are. Whether your relationship was amazing, strained, or something in-between, figuring out what you want to say at his funeral can be challenging.
There are various ways to choose from. If you are a creative type, you might choose to write a poem or perform a song. If you are more reserved, it makes sense to enlist some friends and family to share the spotlight. If you're planning a virtual or online funeral, you might share a slideshow or video and provide commentary.
Here’s a list of 12 ways you can speak at your dad or stepdad's funeral. Regardless of which option you choose, the only thing that truly matters is that you speak from the heart. Consider how your dad would feel if he could be there listening. Be thoughtful about what you want to say and how you want to say it, and you won’t go wrong.
If you're interested in other unique ways to honor a loved one, you can consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.
1. Write a Eulogy
Go the classic route and write a eulogy for your dad. Consider the personality traits you loved most about him, his achievements, family life, education, career, and what legacy he leaves behind.
There are many great examples on our blog if you need inspiration, and you can always add quotes, poems, and even a joke or two (more on that later).
2. Make a Toast
If you are having a celebration of life event or memorial party, instead of reading a eulogy for your dad, you can make a toast in his honor.
One way to elevate your toast is to use your dad’s favorite drink. Tastes and smells have a way of bringing back memories. This is a great option for honoring your dad and feeling like he is with you in spirit.
Set up a table with all of the fixings for his favorite cocktail, and invite everyone to join you in sharing his concoction. Offer a mocktail version for little ones or those who don’t drink. Create a poster that describes the drink and why your dad loved it so much. Elevate the poster by including a picture of your dad enjoying this very drink.
When you make your toast, perhaps tell a story or two from his life that includes this favorite drink.
3. Do a Reading
There are many unique options for doing a reading at your dad’s funeral. You can choose excerpts from a favorite book, bible verse, or even an article from a newspaper.
Pro-Tip: Shakespeare has some eloquent passages on life, love, parents, and death that are worth checking out.
4. Lead a Prayer
If you are religious, spiritual, or something in-between, lead a prayer at your dad’s funeral or celebration of life event. You can choose a prayer from your own religion, or you may find yourself inspired by a different religious or cultural prayer. Many cultures and religions have beautiful and moving end of life and memorial prayers.
Saying a prayer is also a nice option at a graveside service or wake. If you print out the prayer, you can ask people to join you as you read. If there are parts you would like to read on your own, and parts you would like your friends and family to read in harmony, use italics.
5. Perform a Song
If you are musical, a beautiful way to honor your dad is through song. There are many options for this. You can perform a song that your dad loved, a song he sang to you growing up, or something you wrote for this very occasion.
If other members of your family have musical abilities, get the band together for a powerful tribute to your dad.
This is a great option for any type of service and would work for a funeral, graveside ceremony, celebration of life event, or even a Zoom Shiva.
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6. Write a Poem
If you are creative and have a way with words, write a poem in memory of your dad. Whatever inspires you is fair game. You could write about his life, his relationship with you, his death, or some combination.
If you are feeling too much grief or are having a difficult time getting the creative juices flowing, search through our blog for funeral poems. There is also a ton of inspiration to be found on the internet.
You may decide that you don’t want to write an original piece. That’s okay! If you find something beautiful and fitting, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. It’s fine to recite poetry written by someone else, just make sure you credit their work.
7. Create a Video
There are so many ways that you can create a memorial video for your dad. One option is to put together a picture slideshow to play as you read your eulogy. If you’re feeling too nervous to speak in front of others, try recording your eulogy to play over the slideshow. If you’re someone with few words, a slideshow with music is also a moving tribute.
Another option is to ask your friends and family to create toasts or mini eulogies for your dad. Have everyone record and send a short video about your dad, and then create a video compilation. If you are not particularly tech-savvy, there are some online services that will create a video for you.
You can also use mixed media and combine all of these options. String together pictures, home videos, toasts, and music into your tribute video.
8. Read Letters
Collect letters from people who can’t attend the funeral. Read the letters in their entirety or choose your favorite experts from each one to read aloud.
You can guide the letter writers by suggesting that they include favorite memories with your dads and things he’s said that have stuck with them over the years. You can prompt with questions like, “What’s the most important thing you learned from my dad?”
9. Share a Story
There is no better way to remember your dad than by sharing stories from his life. Tell stories that illustrate his best qualities and achievements.
If you are someone of few words, you can always gather stories from friends and family to share along with your own.
10. Tell a Joke
It might seem counterintuitive to tell a joke at your dad’s funeral, but if your dad had a great sense of humor, this is a wonderful way to honor him. Plus, laughter is healing.
Think about what your dad would have wanted if he could be there with you. Would a funny eulogy be just what he had in mind? Then go for it! Comedy, even as part of a funeral or celebration of life, can be tasteful, sentimental, and joyous.
11. Hold a ‘Word Bath’
A word bath is an activity that everyone can participate in. Start off by saying a word or two that comes to mind when you think of your dad. Have everyone else do the same. You can choose to go in a circle or have people just shout out loud. Make sure to capture this exercise on video so you can always remember the impact your dad had on others.
Here are some examples of words you might use:
It is also okay to think outside of the box. Try adding in the name of his favorite pet. You don’t have to stick to adjectives or characteristics. There are no rules!
12. Be the MC
Prep a short speech about your dad to share, and then ask everyone else to join in. Introduce each person before their turn and describe their relationship to your dad and your family. Describing all of the relationships that your dad had in his life is such a rich way to honor him.
If you are a talented public speaker, you can do this all on the fly the day of. If you prefer to be more prepared, you can ask people to write and send you their speeches. Then you can plan out the order and your script introducing each person beforehand.
Preparing Your Speech
Hopefully, after reading through these 12 ideas on how to speak at your dad’s funeral, you’ve found an option that suits you and your family. As you start to prepare what you’re going to say, make sure you proofread and practice. The last thing you want is to feel underprepared and tongue-tied when all eyes are on you.
We recommend reading your speech out loud or practicing what you’re going to say as an MC or when hosting a word bath. This should help you feel more confident and less nervous. Practicing out loud can also help you catch any errors or parts of your speech that don’t read smoothly.
It’s also a good idea to ask a trusted friend or family member to brainstorm and practice with. Ask them for their honest opinion, and adjust your plan accordingly. You can make eye contact with this person while you’re delivering your speech at the funeral, and ask them to be ready to tap in if you get too emotional.