Writing a Eulogy

The best time to write a eulogy varies dramatically based on one’s ability to be open to the eventual coming of death for all of us.

The best time to prepare for a eulogy is anywhere between now and the days immediately preceding your or your loved one’s death – if you know when that will be. As most of us don’t know, now can be best for several reasons.

What is a ‘Eulogy’?

A eulogy is an often misunderstood part of an end-of-life celebrations or commemorations. Ask five different people what they think a eulogy is and you may well get five different answers.

Some more traditional members of the funeral and celebrants’ community think a eulogy should follow a strict formula. A formula which starts at birth and details the main events of a persons’ life, usually in increments of about ten years, until death. And perhaps a few anecdotes and memories are added along the way. The formulaic eulogy can be tedious to write and deliver and just as tedious to hear. Some people have lived a lot of life and achieved many wonderful things and been to many wonderful places. Their eulogies can be quite long – sometimes feeling like a litany of dates and occurrence and making a process out of their personal and family lives… robbing them of the love, the passion and the interest that may have existed in a person’s life.

One issue when using a traditional and formulaic approach to writing a eulogy is that a person may have led a simple and down-to-earth life: one that more of us are likely to have lived than not. So it may well be that you have a more regular kind of life to talk about.

The word ‘eulogy’ comes from the Greek.
In its most poetic form it means ‘fine words of praise’. 
Its literal translation is ‘good (eu-) words (-logy)’.

So what are some alternatives to traditional and formulaic eulogies?

Firstly, it’s your or your loved one’s end-of-life commemoration. If you don’t want a traditional, formulaic eulogy you do not have to have one! Don’t let anyone tell you it’s ‘not proper’ if you don’t have a eulogy.

There are many options for telling your or a loved one’s life story in interesting, creative and imaginative ways. The ‘Story of You’ can take many different forms. It can be done in words, telling your life story through poetry or prose, through song or dance. Through pictures and imagery with music or narration. It can follow your life chronologically or it can feature highlights or the funnest things you’ve done. It can be shared by one person or by many. You are only limited by your, your celebrant or your funeral director’s willingness to engage both imagination and creativity.

If your being told ‘it can’t be done’ or you get that subtle but all to clear message about ‘how things should be done’ according to a celebrant or a funeral director then start looking elsewhere. There is generally plenty of time to find support that is a good fit for what you want. Don’t regret the outcome because you think you had to stick with the first people you contacted! Expect more. Ask more. Explore more…

Having Your Eulogy Prepared

Capturing your story and preparing your or a loved one’s eulogy are very similar processes and can have similar final production options. The key difference is in the purpose and usage of the end document.

Your story can be as long or as short as you like, whereas the preparation of a eulogy has to fit within the end-of-life commemoration that is being designed and delivered. Each eulogy is customised for you or your loved one. And again, can include whatever content you desire with as much or as little guidance available as per your requirements.

You can read some sample eulogies here to help you to get a feel for my style and your options.

 Writing Your Own Eulogy

This is all up to you… Put pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard, just make a start. Let it flow and see where it goes. There is no right way or wrong way. There are however, many different and creative ways to ‘pen your story’. You are only limited by your imagination, inclination and willingness to begin!

Preparing Your Own Eulogy

The idea of preparing your own eulogy is designed to make it easier for your loved ones to have access to the dates and times, the people and places that are important in the story of your life.

 It could be a timeline, a bullet pointed list or your happy ramblings. The idea is to allow your family to write a fitting eulogy or to brief someone else who is writing your eulogy on the family’s behalf. It may surprise you (or not) about how many people have a sketchy recollection, at best, of their parents or loved one’s life. That can be because the conversation about life before you entered their world never came up in conversation. It might be because your life is over-flowing with stories, dates, places you’ve lives or people you’ve met.

 To find out more about how Jacqui can help you capture a life story and/or prepare and write a eulogy call Jacqui Chaplin on +61 (0)412 741 531 for an obligation free conversation.