E is for Eulogy

a-to-z-letters-eThe eulogy.

If you are like me, you probably read or hear this word and your mind goes directly to memories of the funeral of a loved one.  Hearing the muffled sobs of other mourners in the seats next to you, as you listen to a family member or friend eulogize the life and character of the dearly departed.

In the last several years, I have been to far more funerals, memorials, celebrations of life and graveside services than I had collectively attended in my previous 50 years of life.

That is a result of living a “long life,” whatever that means. The longer one lives, the more aware one becomes of dying and death.  And there are more services to attend and more eulogies to hear.

I seem to recall a day when communities of friends and relatives would fly-in from around the country (world) to pay their respect to the deceased and to support the others who have been left behind.  Often times one of them was asked to deliver the eulogy. Perhaps, because these people were a bit more “removed” in miles, they were seen by the rest of the family as more capable of holding things together in order to get the words out, not being tied to the day-in-and-day-out emotional connection.

In today’s world, it seems that too many are too busy to take the time to to honor others.  Yet, there are other communities that have taken the place of these communities and gather in additional ways.  Often times, we now use the Internet for our online community centers–Facebook events, chat rooms, discussion threads, Skype, Google–to honor others, receive our support and hugs, and share our tears, joy, laughter and sorrow laughter in a virtual environment.

And the eulogy that was shared with a select group of folks gathering quietly to mourn, we now share with the world.

Eulogy for my mother…

It has been nearly two years since my mother passed away.  I “talk to her” regularly. (I know that there are some family members who are probably commenting that I am “certifiably crazy” now that I have made that admission.)

When she died, I asked to deliver her eulogy. I was granted my request, but was “limited to no more than four minutes.”

Four minutes to describe my mother and her life.  And much to the surprise of many (I am sure), I did just that.

My community, circle of friends, relationships and support system far extend beyond Granada Hills, California, however. I wanted those whom I have known over the years to hear the stories, to tell their own, and to get a glimpse of my mother as my family knew her. I shared the eulogy I delivered at my mother’s memorial for the world to discover.

I know that Mom, who was an extremely private person (as compared to me who believes we must share to build connection to others) is probably cursing me from her spot in heaven.  She was quite critical of the online world and, like many her age, was not interested in what it might offer, especially if it meant allowing for disclosure.

Yet, I can nearly imagine her shaking her head and grumbling, accepting that she and I will successfully make the journey to the same destination through life.  She just took the side streets; I take the boulevards.

Eulogy for Bridget…

If you have been reading my blog this year, you are familiar with Bridget Spence and her story.

This past week, Bridget’s life was celebrated at a memorial mass in Massachusetts.  Her husband, Alex, whom she called her “Big Man,” delivered the eulogy amongst family and friends.

As Bridget was open to share her story on her blog, My Big Girl Pants, for several years after being diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer shortly after her university graduation at the age of 21, and having lived for nearly nine years, Alex shared his words with Bridget’s community and the rest of the world.  It allowed for her “extended family and friends” to share the love, joy, tears and hugs with the collective many from all around the world.

Thank you to Alex and the rest of Bridget’s family for allowing so many who love her to have shared this intimate moment.

Eulogy for the living…

The word “eulogy,” though most often used in the context of funerals and memorials, also means to give “high praise,” according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.  The eulogy is used also at retirement ceremonies. But it is not defined as “ONLY” used at these gatherings.

Too often, we do not eulogize others when they are alive.  We wait until it is too late to tell others how much they mean to us.  We are afraid of sharing our emotions.

The older we get, the more eulogies we will hear after others pass from this earthly life. The longer we live after others have gone, the more opportunity there are for regrets.

Please ponder these questions:

  • Who would be the person(s) that you would want to deliver their eulogy after they have passed away?
  • What joy might you bring to yourself and others if you were to write a eulogy to this person(s) while they are still alive?
  • Where would you be with this person(s) when you spoke these words to them?
  • When do you plan on sharing your heart with those who are important to you?
  • How much could you deepen this relationship(s) if you were to be willing to  be vulnerable by sharing the words you would speak at their memorial?

So, my final question:

Why are you waiting?


5 thoughts on “E is for Eulogy

  1. Mick

    In Ireland, Coral, we pay our last respects in sad tobacco, or with a baby Jameson, but it quickly turns to anecdote, and fun, in honour of, and at the expense of, the deceased. .

    No quarter is offered, just because one happens to be dying. I do recall the friends of an old man, in some distress in his last days, in an upper bedroom, at the top of a narrow winding cornery stairs. The problem of a coffin as awkward as a horse upstairs hung heavily, until one of his friends whispered:-

    ” Paudie, when you feel the auld rigor coming on you, would you ever scrunch up your knees sideways, so we can get you down the stairs?”

    Long life is granted to those whose friends are such, that you’d be half afraid to leave them.


  2. Pingback: I Am a Survivor! | Beyond Life's Challenges

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