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 Grief: How to Write a Eulogy 
 
Are you preparing a eulogy? Here's some help:

It is an honor to commemorate the life of a person who has recently died.

The eulogy serves many purposes for those in the audience:

  • It fulfills the human need for ceremony to mark an occasion; the death should not go unrecognized.
  • It comforts the listeners to have their feelings put into words.
  • It comforts the listeners to know that the deceased was understood.
  • It provides a cathartic opportunity for the listeners; they can weep with no censure.
  • It is a way to immortalize the deceased; your words will live on.
  • It is an opportunity to educate listeners about some personal traits of the deceased.
  • It is an opportunity to bring some respectful levity to a sad event.
To get ready to write the eulogy think about the deceased and jot down about ten words that come to mind. The words can be positive or negative, silly or serious. Then think about some experiences you had with the deceased and write them down. You can write just a few words to represent each experience or incident that you recall -- no need to have a full sentence. These jottings are random thoughts and ideas.

Keeping the page you have just written in front of you, begin to follow the directions below. Use the words and phrases on your page to help follow these instructions. After it is all written find ways to include any unused items on your original sheet of paper.

  • The first word you say should be the name of the deceased.

    This is not about you. Do not begin by saying, I loved my brother. Instead say, Larry was my older brother.

  • The next sentence or two should explain and then describe your relationship.

    Larry teased me every day of my childhood and inspired me everyday of my adulthood.

  • Summarize in one or two sentences the essence of Larry's life.

    Larry was a good husband and father and a devoted employee of the publishing company where he worked as a production manager for 24 years.

  • Now tell the audience something they don't know about the deceased. Reveal some accomplishments.

    You may not have known that Larry was on his college fencing team and that he won several national competitions. Also, Larry was voted employee of the year by his fellow-workers just a couple of years ago.

  • Reveal some character traits, humor encouraged.

    You always saw Larry looking neat and clean. I am here to tell you that this man took two showers every day and often changed his shirt during the day. Some might think that he was obsessive; he thought he was setting a good example for those around him. In our family we called him Mr. Clean.

  • Create a scene that will permit audience members to visualize the deceased.

    You know if Larry were sitting there with you now he'd have his hand under his chin, as usual, and he'd have his serious face on. He'd be studying everyone who was speaking. Probably he'd be wearing his blue tie that he saved for funerals and weddings. As soon as the service is over Larry would rip off the tie -- he never was comfortable in ties -- and rush home for his sneakers so he could go for a run, or maybe a jog. Oh, and if you saw him in his house you know where he'd be sitting -- on that great big recliner, with two pillows propped under his head and he would be reading USA Today and the TV would be on but he'd have no idea what program he was watching.

  • (Excerpted from Solace: Finding Your Way Through Grief and Learning to Live Again ISBN: 0814414637 )
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     About The Author
    Roberta Temes PhDRoberta Temes, Ph.D., author of Solace: Finding Your Way Through Grief and Learning to Live Again, is a noted psychotherapist who has taught classes in death, dying, and bereavement at schools such as Downstate Medical......more
     
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