5 Hot Tips for Writing Eulogies
First, you get the shocking news that your loved one has died.
Next comes the avalanche of tasks to do related to that person's death while in the throws of grief.
Then comes one of the hardest tasks. You are asked to eulogize your grandparent, parent, child or friend.
I do not know anyone who hasn't suffered some kind of panic attack when asked to prepare a eulogy. I know I did when my mom died suddenly. It wasn't as though I was even asked to prepare one; I simply said I wanted to do it.
But saying you will do it and then having to execute your special tribute to a crowd of people while trying to contain your grief congures up a vast array of feelings.
What exactly is a eulogy?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: A eulogy is "a lauditory speech or written tribute, especially one praising someone who has died; High praise or commendation".
It is not an obituary. A eulogy is more than "just the facts".
Preparing for and delivering a eulogy is an honor and possibly the most poignant time to capture the essence of a person and why they will be sadly missed by so many that loved him or her. It is the moment of personalizing someone's life and how you were connected to them.
Remember, it is a great honor to be selected to give a eulogy. It is a lasting gift for you, and for those who will hear what you have to say.
Here are 5 easy tips that might help you through your panic attack:
1. There is no correct way to eulogize someone, so be yourself and don't worry.
2. Brainstorm on a piece of paper. Just start writing whatever comes to mind.
3. Ask others to help you. Everyone has a favorite story to share.
4. Use stories and anecdotes. Use video clips, slideshows.
5. Use humor. Be funny. Tears and laughter go together.
6. Read it aloud. Put it away, then read it aloud again. Edit, edit, edit. There is nothing worse than a dragged out prolonged tribute, especially if there is more than one person giving a eulogy.
My dad, Boo, did a superb job eulogizing my Mom and he did so with poise, grace, and one index card. The index card was the result of our brainstorming session in the car after officially saying "goodbye" to Mom at the funeral home. Dad was a bit worried about what to say. But a few words and concepts exchanged in a car ride tempered any fear or anxiety he might have had. On the day of my Mom's service, Boo rose to the occassion and brought tears and laughter to a sea of family and friends.
My brother has a dry sense of humor and because he is a really great news reporter, he is always very factual. His eulogy for our mom was perfect; full of anecdotes and funny stories of his childhood, teen and young adult years through the eyes of our mother. She would have laughed aloud.
I tackled the task by writing a letter to mom, which I read aloud with a knot in my stomach and a huge lump in my throat that apparently went unnoticed by the congregation. Somehow, we all managed to say our tributes without falling apart at the seams.
Eulogies provide closure too. Have you considered who you might ask to write a eulogy for you when the inevitable happens?
Are you curious to read some famous people's eulogies? You just might get some interesting ideas.
What an honor to put your personal touches in a speech filled with the love and sharing the joys of having someone special in your life.
Did you know that people wrote eulogies for the snack food "Twinkies" when Hostess announced the end of producing this snack cake? Now that's strange!
Please feel free to share any eulogy stories with me.