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Grief Counseling, Writing a Eulogy, Writing an Obituary

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Writing the Eulogy

Giving a eulogy is a noble gesture. Few are privileged to present one. If you have been chosen, accept graciously, consider it as an opportunity to contribute to the healing process and prepare to do some homework.

In general, eulogies are remembrances of the deceased. They may be serious, full of stories of youth and family; or humorous, full of jokes remembered and shared with the deceased. Do not feel you have to provide a summation of the life of the deceased. Nor should you try to include everyone in the audience in your story. Just be yourself, and speak from the heart.

Gather information

To help prepare for the eulogy, gather your information carefully. Contact family members and friends of the deceased. Collect biographical facts such as marriage dates, places lived, and any unique hobbies or memberships to clubs. You are trying to capture the character of the deceased so be sure to contact a variety of individuals who will be able to give you accurate information.

Some ideas for information to include can come from a variety of sources: Old photographs, newspaper articles about historical events or about the deceased, family stories, genealogical information, memories of family outings or events. These are the types of information that make a funeral service a celebration of a life rather than a morbid sermon or a recitation of doctrine, devoid of anything personal.

Develop a theme

We advise coming up with a theme for your eulogy. This may sound trite, or contrived, but it actually helps others remember the deceased fondly, as many people listening will relate to your topic as it applies to them and to the deceased. For example, at one funeral we know of, the speaker talked about the lady's youth relating how life was for the farm-women of her era. He talked about her participation in preparing meals for the threshers at harvest time, and how the phrase "eating like a thresher" came to be. (Threshing is vigorous, physically demanding work, and the men have huge appetites requiring mass quantities of food.) He did an excellent job of highlighting the events of her life and giving the audience a glimpse of another era.

Practice speaking

Finally, practice your presentation before going to the funeral home. Read your notes out loud to see how they sound. Ask a friend or family member to listen to you. Going over the eulogy two or three times before presenting it in public, will help make you more comfortable when at last you get up and address the family and friends in the funeral home or wherever the service is conducted. Consider having a glass of water at the podium. It is acceptable to read the eulogy all the way through, if you find it too hard to raise your eyes and make eye contact. Remember that no one is judging you. Be yourself and you will do fine.

Sample outline

The following outline is intended to serve as a general guideline. Much of it can be found in the obituary. The eulogy allows you to expand on that. It is not necessary to include everything listed here, but the greater the variety of material you use, the more interesting the presentation will be. It will also be easier to compose and will give ample opportunity to express what the deceased meant to you.

  1. Biographical Information
    1. Names of parents
    2. Residence
    3. Occupations (where they worked and how long)
    4. Hobbies
    5. Social organizations they belonged to
    6. Marriage/children
  2. Human Interest Information
    1. Events that shaped the deceased's thoughts
    2. Family anecdotes
    3. Beliefs
    4. Fond memories of your own
    5. Beloved pets
    6. Philosophies of life
    7. Poems or Prose
  3. Religious Service
    1. Bible readings
    2. Prayers
    3. Sermon
  4. Conclusion
    1. Where Interment will be
    2. Post funeral gathering information
    3. Presence or absence of graveside service

Read a article on Writing a Eulogy by Garry Schaeffer



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