One of the matters we are most often asked by families is “how do I write a eulogy”?
We can begin with the traditional definitions of a eulogy, which is this : "Funeral orations in which the praises of the departed are sung or spoken”.
In more modern terms, a eulogy is something of a timeline, or a brief history of the life of the deceased. Which is great in that we may learn something we didn’t previously know about them - but can very easily stray into “and then this and then that”.
An easier way to approach the subject is that a good eulogy should illustrate the parts of the persons life that made them who they were - that created or influenced the essence of them, and how they lived their life.
A person born and raised in the Great Depression years of the 1930's will probably be very thrifty and hate waste of any type.
The eldest born child often has a deep sense of responsibility toward others that they demonstrate throughout their entire life.
A migrant or refugee is often extremely resourceful, hardworking and successful in their adopted country because they truly understand the good fortune of their new country, and they are keen that their own children should understand this too.
The other critical guidance for writing a eulogy is that it must be truthful and sincere. That's not to say that we should necessarily air old grievances in public - but let's not sanctify someone out of all recognition either. No one will believe it anyway, so it's so much better to stick to the truth.
If he wasn’t the best father in the world then perhaps we could say “he did his best to be good to us, and deep down we always knew that“.
“Mum, I can’t pretend things were always perfect between us, but I want you to know that I love and accept who you were, as well as what you were not for me”.
Ultimately, the tributes and conversations of farewell that we have at a funeral MUST be held in a way that is safe enough, and supported enough, for each of us to speak our truth. If that truth contains past hurts, it may be better to write it instead in a letter to be placed on, or in the coffin. This suggestion isn’t so much to sanities or conceal what needs to be said - much more importantly, it is to ALLOW what needs to be said to be expressed fully, so that those feelings can be expressed by the bereaved - in full, without edit or compromise.
This can be very, very healing - whether the conversation is one of deep love and gratitude, or of mixed and complex emotions, or even one of bitterness.
“The truth will set you free".
Every person is unique. Every family is different.
With us, every Funeral is Individual.