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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
Poet laureate's eulogy guide
Andrew Motion
Motion was appointed poet laureate in 1999
Poet laureate Andrew Motion has backed a project that aims to ensure everyone is given a fitting eulogy at their funeral, whatever their backgrounds.

Motion, who is responsible for writing eulogies in the circumstances of a royal death, has helped produce a guide to penning funeral speeches.

It is estimated that funeral speeches by friends or relatives, are given at just 10% of all services.

Working with funeral director Co-operative Funeralcare, Motion hopes that by giving tips in the book Well Chosen Words on how to deliver a speech it will help the mourning process.

"It might move us to tears but it will start to heal us too," said Motion.

"It will help us get things in perspective and to understand that we cope with loss not by forgetting whoever has been taken from us but by finding out how we can best live with our memories of them."


The Co-op has produced 100,000 of the free guides which give advice on thinking about the eulogy, and gives examples from eulogies for Diana, the Princess of Wales and Spike Milligan.

At Milligan's memorial service in June 2002, fellow comic Eddie Izzard delivered the line "he was a great man - a crazy, wonderful genius".

Richard Gomersall, general manager of the Co-operative Funeralcare, said: "As the guide points out, many people still believe that eulogies are only for the famous.

"We know from our own experience that this just isn't the case and we hope this guide will provide encouragement for everyone to provide eulogies at funerals."

Your comments:

Be brave and open your heart
Keith, UK
I will always regret not speaking at my Dad's funeral but I did summon up the courage to speak at my Mum's. I could hardly finish without breaking down and I think one or two people were a bit embarrassed. But I am glad I did it - I just felt I had to honour her in my own words, not those of a priest who didn't know her. The other thing I regret was not helping to carry either parent's coffin. We seem so insulated from death and find it hard to know how to respond. My advice would be to be brave and open your heart - you will not regret it.
Keith, UK

What a splendid idea. I am surprised no-one's thought of providing a guide to assist in the writing of funeral speeches before. I have always believed that the funeral eulogy should be delivered by sympathetic persons who actually knew the deceased, rather than some paid stranger who is forced to stick to an outline script to which he/she adds to and makes it as the occasion demands. Funerals, I believe, are for the benefit of the living and should be an inspiring and healing part of the ritual of celebrating the lives of our loved ones. Thank you Mr Motion.
Keith Kettlewell

At the first funeral I went to, I thought that appropriate and lovely words were used. After attending a few funerals I realised that everybody seems to have "touched the lives of those around them" and that they must be stock phrases. How much better, then, if friends and those who truly know the deceased would speak, rather than a vicar with generic terms.
Flash Wilson, UK

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