Writing your own Eulogy
One sunny and happy day my daughter tells me “mom, I want you to write your own eulogy.” Just said that straight out, what a shocker, what is she talking about? What? So I responded as any good parent would and said “what the hell are you talking about?” She laughed at me and said, “ya I want you to write your own eulogy, if you write it then I don’t have to when the time comes.” So we talked and yes I am writing my eulogy.
Why write your own eulogy? There are many reasons, you could get in the last word, you could tell people in your own words how much they cared about you and you can share your own story through your eyes. Why not write your own eulogy? If you are a jerk you would probably be telling people off and if that is true there probably will not be anyone at your funeral. Telling a lie about your life or a fairy tale of what you lived would just leave people not liking you, so if you can’t write an honest eulogy I would image letting someone else write it for you, but you could still do that and review the eulogy and have it edited before you die, that might be an option as well.
Is this strange to write your own eulogy? In my research of how to write a eulogy I found that more and more people are writing their own. So this isn’t just a strange thing, I did not even know that this was done to be honest, if I had known earlier my eulogy would definitely be different than what I am planning now. I am older, more mature and hopefully wiser and there are things that I appreciate far greater now than 20 years ago. So with this in mind I would advise to revisit your eulogy ever 5 years or so to make sure it is still relevant and not an extinct purpose. How confused people may be if the situation is no longer relevant or how they may feel if you had some grudge or harbored feelings you really do not anymore. Is there anything I want to tell people? First of all I personally make sure I tell people what I want to say to them in person, that way I can look back and never have any regret of not telling anyone something. I don’t mean telling people off, but tell them I love them, what they did hurt me and work it out with them or parted ways. I never want to have more regrets than I already have, a clean slate sort of speak or no good deed undone. So what is there to say?
Here are some suggestions I recommend to start with this process if you decide to write your eulogy.
- Jot down some memories of your life, some funny stories, your career path, accomplishments, where you lived, your education, marriage and family, and so on.
- Now that you have some ideas on paper, it is not in order and it is nowhere near done. Now you can write an outline. Think through your life to this point and picture all you have achieved in these years, the people you loved and your behaviour over the years. Answer these questions to help you create this outline.
- Where were you born and where did you live? Did you move a lot? Where was your retirement?
- What kind of life was your youth? Were you a busy kid or focused on a hobby?
- What hobbies did you have over the years, like what was most enjoyable in each decade for your hobbies of what you did for enjoyment?
- If retired what did you do during retirement?
- Did you marry? Have kids and how many? Did you make friends easily or find it hard and did you have many friends? Lots or a few really good ones that meant the most to you?
- Education? What did you study? Where did you attend? Did you have more than one career in your life? More educational interests?
- Accomplishments – what awards did you win? Talents you developed? What books did you love to read? Were you ever in a newspaper or on T.V.?
- What were some funny stories that people would remember you with? Did you have a funny sense of humour or a humour people really did not understand? Did you cook? Could you cook? What memory of cooking would people like to hear about? Such as your most amazing dish or how the smoke alarm always went off when you cooked.
- Did you have a passion for the outdoors? Hiker, jogger, nature painter, adventurer, bird watcher, camper, a rock climber? Anything that you enjoyed doing outside. Perhaps you liked crafts – what did you enjoy making? Crafts for the home or gifts? Needlework or crochet or maybe sewing?
- Where did you work? What type of jobs did you have? Do you have a funny story about working at one of those jobs? Did you get injured at any job?
- Now this one I want you to be completely honest with yourself. What type of friend were you? Were you loyal or a friend of opportunity? Were you honest, ethical, and compassionate? Were you a good listener? If you had family did you love them? Were you patient? Were you a leader? Did you try to help the needy and offer service to others without desire for payment, recognition or thanks in return?
- What was it about you that people admired? What will people most miss about you? Such as the way you could turn a bad situation into something that can be laughed at and helped others overcome hardship? How good of listener were you?
- What did you love the most about others, spouse, children, family, friends, and strangers? What was it that you loved about the people around you? Perhaps a favourite restaurant and the waiter who always forgot your drink? Perhaps the sound of your children’s laughter? Your neighbour who always stubbed their toe on the steps? Those little things that made you laugh, the bigger things that made you appreciate them more.
Once this is done you can look at all this information and turn it into a eulogy. There are many types of eulogies but this is a starting point for anyone, once this is done you can tweak it into any type of eulogy you desire people to hear at your funeral. I recommend starting at the beginning, rather a step through your life from birth to death and how you lived each moment. It is similar to a biography without the biography part. A biography covers so much of a lifetime that it can take some time to tell the whole story, if you want to tell your life story write your own biography, your eulogy is not your entire biography but rather a summary of your life. I would not recommend making people sit through a eulogy that runs for an hour or more but a short one, no more than 30 minutes to 40 minutes is a good amount of a eulogy speech time I would think. So to put things in order I have jotted down some ideas of how to go about doing that as I am doing this for myself. I do not at all think you should follow my steps and nothing else, be creative. Try new designs and ideas and I do recommend running them passed a friend or family member who you feel would be honest. If you are not getting a good support in that sense talk to a librarian or English teacher and ask them to please read it and give some feedback. Allow those to give the feedback as you are the one who is asking, their opinions may not be yours but it lets you know if you are rambling, or if you are not making sense. For example, if you are trying to describe a funny story it can sometimes be hard to explain on paper, you may need to change the story or change how you wrote it as it comes across not how you intended. So be open, and allow for feedback. This is your last word, you want to be clear and understood, or at least I would.
This outline is what I started with but then changed it once I was done and decided that I wanted to write it in first person not third person as this is. This is written so the person that reads it is like they wrote it about you. I wanted to have the person reading it like I was standing up there telling my story in my words. So like I said, change it up how you would like it to be done, this below is for third person version. Feel free to search the internet for examples of eulogies there are a lot of them, some are quite poetic.
- Beginning –birth (parents, date of birth, town or city, etc) through childhood. Be brief you do not want to drone this on too long, quickly state your birth and hometown and perhaps one or two funny kid stories. Remember this is not a genealogy, it’s a summary of your life.
- Education- where and what you studied, your careers, etc. any awards you won in school, or sport and any accomplishments. If religious add your devotion to the religion.
- Hobbies-interests-adventures-funny story of any of this, memorable story of this. A camp trip that turned into a story.
- Family and relationships and friendships. A story that describes an example of what you were in life to be a parent, friend, member of the community, etc.
- About your personality and self – your qualities as a friend, parent, spouse etc.
- You will be missed- this is the wrap it up section where you tell the part of you that will be most missed about you.
In first person style.
- Eulogy is written by the deceased… I was born….etc.… and story
- I attended…. And graduated from… a career in …. changed careers because…. etc.
- I have ….family and …. children… married to… etc. story that describes my nature….I remember when….
- I really enjoyed to play…. and always got into trouble because…. I loved to …. etc.
- I love and appreciated …. I will miss… I loved my life and …. story….
- Thank you for being a part of my life and …..
By Tina Curtis