Funeral Etiquette: Writing a Humorous Obituary or Giving a Funny Eulogy
Everyone deals with grief in a different way. During funeral planning and in the difficult days that follow, some people turn to family for comfort. Others mourn in a visible and open manner with anyone willing to listen. And some internalize their grief, coming to terms with their loss on their own terms.
Humor is also a common coping mechanism—especially if you shared the kind of relationship with the deceased where laughter and good times prevailed. While there is nothing wrong with focusing on the positive at a funeral (or in sharing the happy memories that bring tears and laughter to the surface in equal proportions), it is not always appropriate to include humor in a eulogy or obituary.
When is Funeral Humor Okay?
Humor at a funeral is acceptable as long as it is offered in moderation. Now is not the time to revive your stand-up comedy routine, and stories about the deceased that are in bad taste (anything you would not say in front of your grandmother) should probably be left for the after party. The goal of a eulogy is not to entertain the crowd, no matter how much they might be in need of a good laugh.
Instead, use the eulogy or obituary as a way to honor the deceased. If there are humorous stories you would like to share, offer them alongside more sentimental tributes about the way he or she touched your life. That epic weekend trip where your grandfather fell off the fishing boat and had to swim to shore? Go ahead and mention it, but also share how important those weekends away were in shaping your life. Did your sister love to sing but couldn’t carry a tune? Go ahead and talk about the disastrous karaoke night—but temper it by sharing how much you’re going to miss hearing the sound of her voice.
In short, humor at funerals is all about finding a balance. The good with the bad, the funny with the memorable. Try not to veer too far off topic, and you should be fine.
Writing a Humorous Obituary/Eulogy
It is also a good idea to write everything down ahead of time and to run your thoughts by at least one other person who was close to the deceased. This extra pair of eyes can go a long way in ensuring that your humor is appropriate and that you are not going to offend any relatives or friends who may be in attendance.
You should also allow your speech or obituary to sit for a few days before you air it. During funeral planning and the initial stages of grief, your best friend is time. Allow your thoughts to simmer before they become public, and try to look at everything with fresh eyes.
Humor can help you (and many others) cope with your loss, and the right amount can take away much of the pain of grief. As in all things related to funeral planning, however, it is all about being in good taste and remembering the deceased above all else.