Writing a Eulogy for a Loved One
By Example of One Grandmother's Heartfelt Tribute
Say not in grief that she is no more
but say in thankfulness that she was;
a death is not the extinguishing of a light,
but the putting out of the lamp
because the dawn has come.
- Rabindranath Tagore
Writing a Eulogy Is Both Difficult and Personal
Writing a eulogy may be difficult, especially during times of great loss. What is important to remember is that if nothing else, your tribute should be personal...
According to articles like Coping with the Loss of a Loved One and Navigating Loss: Dealing with the Pain and Letting Go, sharing may not be the easiest thing to do as you struggle with the complicated emotions of dealing with death. If you are having trouble putting your feelings on paper, you may benefit from this simple advice for writing a heartfelt and honorable eulogy.
To the below steps I add in tribute to my own lost loved one, and as a means of further assistance, a sample eulogy. It was given for my grandmother by her daughters, and I found it particularly beautiful and especially touching.
Of my grandmother, I will say she was a simple but beautiful woman who lived an ordinary life, filled with love. I think it encapsulates the woman and honored her. She was a quiet person. She loved her home. She did much in little ways. She was very loved and rightly so. She was and continues to be a great spirit present in my life. In giving her a venerable eulogy, I feel we gave her something rightly due for all the giving she did for us during her life.
The Steps for Writing a Eulogy Are Simple
One of History's Great Eulogies
Steps for Writing a Eulogy
Thank People for Coming, Naming Relatives and Friends you Represent
One can't go wrong opening with a thank you for the people who have come to pay their respects for your loved one. As eulogiser, you represent the deceased's loved ones. Relay to your audience who your loved one leaves behind and detail who the person was; a father, brother, son.... grandmother.
Touch Upon the Person's Passing and Its Effects
Perhaps mention some details of the past week, and the passing itself; if the person had had a long struggle, or if the person had been sick or well. Mention the impact these events have had on the family or other individuals close at hand. Mention if loved ones were able to say goodbye and how people are feeling at this particular time of loss.
Summarize the Person's Life, Travels, Accomplishments, Telling Their Story
Tell when the person was born, and follow with a quick summary of milestones and/or accomplishments in the deceased's life. Give personal details about the person's personality that listeners will relate to in remembering this individual.
Try to Remember and Convey What Is the Essence of Your Loved One
Describe your loved one by things they did, what they loved, what they wore, who they were. Retell your personal account of your interaction with this person, or with the feelings that others got in living with and around this individual. Try to capture truth. Try to get to the heart of who this person was in few words. Compare them to a color, to a season; tell what they would do if they were most being themselves.
Touch On a Poignant Memory and Retell It, Finding What Was Significant About the Memory to You and Why
To personalize the eulogy, give a moment foremost in your memory that thoughts of this person brings to mind. Tell what the memory says about that person and your relationship with them. What outstanding gift did knowing this person give to you and what impact does or did their death have on you and/or loved ones also present?
Find a Legacy
Describe what people leaving the service today can take with them about this person. What lasting lesson or memory can this person proliferate in the lives of those they touched? What positive can these people pass on to others in their life as a result of having known this person?
Don't Be Afraid of Becoming Emotional - Or Appearing Too Stoic
Points to Keep in Mind When Writing / Delivering a Eulogy
- Personal details are important.
- A 5-10 minute delivery is a good length.
- Speak from the heart.
- Don't provide just a summary of the life, but your thoughts and feelings about that person.
Additional Resources for Loss and Eulogies
If you would like further details or advice, visit the following resources for making a funeral special, writing a eulogy, or coping with loss. Good luck and my deepest sympathies for your loss.
- Tips on How to Personalize a Funeral
- Eulogy Speech Guide
- Inspirational Grieving Quotes as seen on Pinterest
- Psychology Today's How We Cope with Loss
- Coping with Grief and Loss at helpguide.org
Speak From The Heart and You Can't Go Wrong
Death has a hundred hands and walks by a thousand ways.
- T.S. Elliot
Products to Consider:
For Antoinette LoVerde, as Given by her Daughters
We'd like to begin with a heartfelt thanks to all of you for being here with us today. Many of you know first hand that Mom was a wonderful sister, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, patient and friend. We, along with our brother, Jack, are so blessed to call her our mom. We are forever grateful to her for her devotion to motherhood and our family.
Jack recently relocated to Texas and was here with us all last week but was unable to return because of his job. He wanted to thank her for bringing us together in a way that we'd never experienced. We spent hours laughing, crying and recalling childhood memories. Having moved 7 months ago, mom knew he needed not only to see her, but to spend time with his children and grandchildren whom he's missed so deeply. Mom brought us together to form an even deeper bond as a family that will remain forever strong.
Married in 1937, our mother, and Dad, moved to New York City in pursuit of his musical career. Once they returned to Rochester and had a family, she spent her weekend evenings at home with us while Dad worked. Never once did we hear her complain about all those missed opportunities to share a date night or even a New Year's Eve celebration with her husband.
Growing up with her was like having our own version of Martha Stewart. She was an amazing cook, famous for her sauce and meatballs, apple pie, artichoke hearts and pizzelles. She taught us how to paint walls, rearrange furniture, sew, knit and shop. After Patty and Jack started school, she returned to work for almost 20 years at The Jameson Box Company. But when the weekend came, she was always up for a trip to the mall. A bit indecisive when faced with too many bargains, her quest for the perfect shoes, purse, wallet and clothing was never ending. Her fashion sense and style were reflected in her youthful appearance and in her later years, she enjoyed having to convince people of her real age.
Antoinette and John shared a home on Ravenwood Avenue with our beloved Aunt Julia and Uncle Duke for over 40 years. After John and Duke passed, Antoinette and Julia parted too, our mom moving to an apartment and Aunt Julia going to her family home in Warsaw, NY. Mom lived on Silver Birch for 19 years. From there, she went to assisted living at Westwood Commons for 6 years and then to Hamilton Manor last August. Mom made the quiet transition to each new home with grace, acceptance and a smile for everyone she encountered. Our long distance conversations with her were filled with her simple assurances that she was fine, everything was OK, and that it was just about being kind to others if we expected the same in return.
During our long vigil this past week, we were comforted hourly by numerous caregivers who treated mom with such compassion and kindness as they attended to her needs and kept her so comfortable. They were truly her angels on earth.
If the secret to living a long life is the ability to cope with loss, then mom had perfected it. She accepted the loss of her own parents and siblings, our dad 30 years ago, 2 of her grandchildren and countless loved ones over the years with strong faith. As we cope with losing her, we will take comfort in knowing that while her spirit soars with God, her heart remains in each of us and her values and example will live on.
Her repeated last words to us were, "Hurry up." As the days went on, we continued to guess at their meaning. But as she took her last breath, she shed a last tear and left us with a smile. We'd like to think she was talking to the angels all along. She never asked anything of us but that we loved each other and remain close. She loved her sister Ann, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren so very much and would want us to be happy for her. Today, we honor our dear mother, sister, grandma, aunt and friend. We say goodbye and send our hearts with you, Mom, knowing you will be waiting for us in Heaven.
Mom, you always deserved recognition but never got a formal one. We know you are listening - so please join us in giving her round of applause. Here's to you, Antoinette!
Our Loved Ones Are Forever in Our Hearts and Minds
What Do You Think?
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