Source: CCO Creative Commons
Over the past few years, I’ve written more eulogies and given more tributes than I have in my entire lifetime. When sharing a eulogy I’ve written and hearing those of others at memorials, I cannot help but think how our loved ones would have enjoyed hearing how they impacted us. Sometimes we have no idea how much we are loved. Attending memorials reminds me of the importance of expressing gratitude more often to those who are meaningful to us. These gatherings also help us heal, as the attendees share emotional, spiritual, and practical sentiments and advice.
There are two writing prompts that I frequently offer in my writing workshops, which the participants seem to enjoy. The first is to write one’s own eulogy, and the second is to write a letter to a loved one who has passed away. These are wonderful ways to honor those who have influenced us during our lives.
As former vice president Joe Biden says in his beautiful book Promise Me, Dad, “Funerals are for the living, I have always believed, and the job of the eulogist is to acknowledge the enormity of the loss they have just suffered and to help them appreciate that the legacy and accomplishments of their loved one have not died with them” (p. 43).
It goes without saying that in order to write a creative eulogy, you first need to feel a deep sense of love and loss for the person who has passed. Three of the most creative eulogies I’ve written were for my father-in-law and two mentors/friends.
Here are some of my eulogy excerpts:
To Alex: Fear was not a word in Alex’s vocabulary — either in the face of all his losses, including his siblings, the Nazis, cancer, stroke, Parkinson’s, and finally, his death. When I faced my own health challenges, Alex continually told me, “Diana, have no fear.” As a man who loved giving advice, what he would say to all of us now would be, “Celebrate my life. Have no fear. Follow your dreams. Make waves. Make money. Be honest and follow your intuition.”
To Thom: It’s not easy crafting a eulogy about a wonderful man who never thought he amounted to much, nor would he think he’d be worthy of this celebration. He always felt as if he stood in the shadow of his father, John Steinbeck. Thom was a…