Preparing a Eulogy
At a funeral – I have a meeting of everyone who is involved in the planning (family and close friends). I explain that we will laugh and cry together – but that I have a difficult task of summing up an entire life in a few minutes. I explain that we each saw this person from a different perspective, but I want to try to best capture their life. Depending on the situation – I ask either a short version or a long version of the questions. I have included how a sample eulogy looks when I have completed it at the bottom of this section.
1. One key outstanding characteristic of their life?
2. Favorite memory
3. Funniest thing you remember
4. What things did they love to do?
5. Pet peeves?
6. What will you miss most?
7. Favorite foods
1. Explain that you are trying to gain a better feel for what that person was like, so you can be more personal.
2. What one adjective would you use to describe him?
3. Did he have any particular loves or hobbies?
4. Did he enjoy any particular songs? poems? or Scriptures?
5. If you could name one value or lesson he most wanted to teach the next generation, what would it be?
6. What one achievement or accomplishment would make his eyes light up when you mentioned it?
7. What were some of his favorite phrases or sayings?
8. Did he ever put anything up on the wall – a picture or motto that expresses who he was?
9. Did he like his first name? Did he have any nicknames?
10. Was there a cause or a movement that he felt deeply about and supported with his time and resources?
11. If he could have me say one thing during the funeral, what do you think it would be?
12. Why do you think this world is a little different because of him?
Sample Eulogy (79 year old Godly lady)
Grandma Kay was a very special person to all of you. She was the last of a great generation. It all started in Jersey City, New Jersey and if you knew Grandma Kay – you knew New Jersey was always dear to her heart. She had 4 children, 6 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren. To Jeannie, Eileen, Tony and Ian she was mom. To many of you and to me she was Gramma Kay, she was just getting use to being a great grandmother, to others she was a relative, but to all of you she was a dear friend. She had spent 79 years on this earth.
To describe this woman you would use words like selfless, dynamic, sacrificial, stubborn, protector, a Highlander in the truest sense. Kay was a survivor – raised in 11 different foster homes and treated poorly most of her life – she knew how to take the bad and make good come out of it. In spite of a very difficult life – she knew how to enjoy life to it fullest – she was a true joy to be around.
And enjoy life she did – she loved to crochet (joined a Happy Hooker club for crocheting.) She loved to embroider, write, read books, she loved to dance, and had a great time putting together puzzles. She loved to get out and go somewhere. When she was younger, she could swim as well as most fish. She loved the ocean and it was never far from her heart. As was New Jersey, Cold Indian Springs, Scotland, the beach. She talked about them often.
Grandma Kay valued her family. To her family was everything. She would sacrifice anything for her family. Her kids would have a sled because every kid needed a sled. She had a very soft heart. A stranger – was always welcome and made to feel like one of the family – she knew how hard it was to be alone – and anyone in her world would never feel alone.
People knew her as Gramma Kay with auburn hair, Tootsie Woo, and Odessa. You would often hear her say – “Don’t get your knickers in a twist” or when I would visit her in the hospital and ask how she was doing – “Imma still here.” she would say. She was a character – She found joy in everything – even climbing a mountain because she wanted to see the view from the top.
If you knew Kay you knew her Lord was very important and very real to her. She loved coming to church and it bothered her she could not. She was a people person and she loved being around God’s people. Things weren’t important to her – there were some things – a Scottish plate, a family picture of a trip – an anchor made by Lane. It wasn’t the things it was the story behind the things and boy – could she tell some great stories.
Friends were also important to her. In the pictures I noticed – she always had a buddy. She always had someone who knew her and understood her. It was an encouragement to me to see someone still making friends way into retirement. She and Fran were a great joy – they reminded me of Thelma and Louise or the 2 guys in Second Hand Lions. It was great relationship – people like Mame, Shirley, and Jean always surrounded her. She understood the value of friends.
Laughter was also a big part of her life – Whether dressing like Phyllis Diller or putting on a pair of sunglasses. She loved to laugh!! Gail accidentally went into the wrong bedroom one night and climbed in bed with Kay – her story the next morning to Jeannie ended with “I still got it!” She could find the humor in everything! She did have things that she was very serious about – and most of us stayed away from discussions on politics (unless you were a democrat). She loved food – of course lobster and shrimp – form the East Coast. She enjoyed Chinese food and one of my favorites Coca Cola. She didn’t like flying, but trains and cars were fine.
She didn’t gripe or complain and if she did – she would always apologize later. She had learned to be content in life. She is the last of a great generation. She was a very special lady and she will be missed. She will no longer sit wrapped up in that pew. There will be no more stories from her lips, or laughter. No more trips to town or lunches. She is gone, but she is not forgotten.
I believe that God brings people into our lives for a purpose. God brought Grandma Kay into each of your lives for a reason. You were allowed the privilege to know and share in her life of 79 years. You have memories or events that you shared with her – Lessons you saw in her life. Treasure those memories
We can value family, and keep live some of the rich history of our past. We can learn to truly and genuinely care for others. We can always look for the good in the situation and focus on the joy and the laughter. We can be bold about Christ whether in the hospital or in the neighborhood. We can always make new friends no matter how old we are. Laugh at yourself and enjoy life no matter what your circumstances, after all in Kay’s words Imma still here!
But I always challenge people to take those lessons one step farther.- take those lessons and teach them to someone else. In that way Grandma Kay will continue to impact this world, even though she is no longer with us. You see only her body is gone. Her life, her values, her beliefs can live on past her generation. It is up to you and I to teach them to future generations. In that way – although Grandma Kay is gone, she can continue to live and influence for years to come.