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Pre-Funeral Planning: Selecting The Readings

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One of the most critical steps in the pre-funeral planning process is selecting the right readings. The readings you choose for your funeral will set the tone and provide structure for the ceremony. The readings will also engage the people attending your funeral, stirring remembrance and fond memories. When choosing the readings, pick texts that are relevant to you and also speak to your audience.

Common Forms of Readings

Knowing the common forms of readings that people choose for their funerals will give you a starting point as you search for your own readings.

  • Eulogy. The eulogy is a speech that is usually read by a very close loved one. This may be written by you, by your loved one, or may be written as a collaborative effort. The purpose of the eulogy is to provide remembrance, and may include personal stories and favorite memories.
  • Poetry. Choose poems that are meaningful to you. For longer poems, consider picking out a favorite section rather than the entire poem.  
  • Spiritual texts. Many people who attend funerals seek comfort in the spiritual world. Selecting spiritual texts that provide you with comfort will likely give comfort to the audience as well.
  • Jokes. It's alright to include humor in your funeral. People who are grieving often need to laugh as a part of their recovery. If you're so inclined, choose one or two tasteful jokes for your ceremony, or include them in your eulogy.
  • Personal stories. Personal stories will probably be included in your eulogy, but scattering a couple personal stories throughout your funeral, outside the eulogy, is also acceptable.

Practical Considerations

Remember that your funeral is for those people you leave behind, to give them comfort and solace in their time of grief and loss. While your readings should be relevant to you, don't forget the state of mind of the people in the audience. Choosing uplifting texts, or texts that provide guidance at this sad time, will give aid to the people in the audience.

As you pick the readings for your ceremony, take into account the length of the reading. Most people speak at a rate of 125 words per minute, but speeches read before an audience are supposed to be more measured and slow. To avoid choosing too many readings, or to avoid extending your funeral by too much time, try reciting your chosen readings out loud and timing them to ensure that the length and number of readings are appropriate.

For more information and helpful guidance with pre-funeral planning, speak with your funeral home director.