Writing Eulogies

  • May 26, 2017

“I’m always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realize I’m listening to it.”

George Carlin

What an honor it is to be asked to give the eulogy at a loved one’s funeral. However, when the time comes to fill solemnity with spoken memories, most of us experience a brain freeze. We find ourselves at a loss of how to convey the right sentiment and gratitude while addressing funeral guests. It is very difficult to speak deeper feelings without hitting too close to home and exposing our soft underbellies, which may not be appropriate depending on the specific situation.

So when you are asked to present a few words in eulogy, where do you begin? Here are some tips to follow to insure you present the words which will honor your loved one with respect and convey your regard.

  • Begin by jotting down notes while pondering your best times together. Do so chronologically in order to organize your thoughts.
  • Ask mutual friends to tell you their favorite memory about the deceased.
  • List your loved one’s passions and hobbies, as well as their accomplishments. Consider the most important things in their life—the things they held most dear.
  • Think about favorite poems, stories and song lyrics.
  • Survey your notes and decide what you will use in your speech. Organize the items in the order you want to present them.

Now you can begin writing your memorial by linking the things chosen from your loved one’s life with your thoughts and feelings, weaving everything together. Write the eulogy from beginning to end without pausing to contemplate. Doing this allows heart-felt creativity to lead the way.

There are two different ways to prepare for speaking. Either rewrite your speech so that you can read it word for word or loosely structure your notes with the intent of allowing your words to flow when the time comes.

Don’t be afraid to use humor. In fact, using a mixture of sad and funny is usually best. A line from the film “Steel Magnolias” sums it up: “My favorite emotion is laughter through tears.”

If you need further inspiration, read these famous examples:

Anna Quindlen for Her Grandmother, Kitty O’Connell Quindlen

“My grandmother was rather vain, and I loved her for it. Her favorite stories concerned her own charms: how she weighed 96 pounds until the third of her eight children was born, how some man tried to pick her up on the street even though she was pushing a baby carriage with a toddler on either side of it, how the nicest boys clamored to date her, particularly August LaForte, he of the wonderful manners and fine clothes. Once I asked her why she had chosen instead the rather dour young man, as she described him, who was my grandfather. `I don’t know,’ she said with a sigh. `I don’t think I could have hardly stood him at all if he hadn’t played the piano.’ ”

Charles Spencer for His Sister Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales

“Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity, a standard-bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a truly British girl who transcended nationality, someone with a natural nobility who was classless, who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.”

Author Norman Mailer for Himself

Norman Mailer passed away yesterday after celebrating his fifteenth divorce and sixteenth wedding. ‘I just don’t feel the old vim,’ complained the writer recently… At the author’s bedside were eleven of his fifteen ex-wives, twenty-two of his twenty-four children, and five of his seven grandchildren, of whom four are older than six of their uncles and aunts… When asked, on occasion why he married so often, the former Pulitzer Prize winner replied, ‘To get divorced. You don’t know anything about a woman until you meet her in court.’”

If you plan ahead, you can be like Norman Mailer and write your own. Plus, you can list who you want to read it at the funeral. Willbox.me can help you make all the necessary arrangements. In fact, willbox.me can help you organize virtually everything to do to prepare.  For help with your digital afterlife, online legacy, electronic will, virtual safe deposit box, online asset protection or anything else you may need, go to willbox.me.

 

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