Too good to be real

Charles Cowling

I have tried, in the Good Funeral Guide, not to cover topics already dealt with by others. Instead, I have incorporated lots of signposts to best sources of information and best archives of resources – poems, music, ceremony ideas.

There’s lots of stuff out there about eulogies, most of it guff. But TheFuneralSite has some really good advice about eulogy writing. I especially like the following (mostly, let’s be honest, because I fervently agree with it):

A eulogy composed and delivered by someone who loved the deceased is the key component of a meaningful memorial gathering.

Think about the funerals you’ve attended. What do you most remember? Wasn’t it the daughter’s speech about her mom’s life or the nephew’s series of stories about his Uncle? These speak directly to our hearts. We relate immediately to the speaker. They may make us cry, but this group experience will draw us together as a community and help us to acknowledge the life of our relative, friend or associate that has ended.

Often the eulogy is given by a clergy or celebrant who has never met the decedent let alone loved them. Although the clergy or celebrant may do an excellent job of interviewing family and friends and presenting an accurate and interesting eulogy, the intimacy of first hand knowledge and heart-felt attachment will be missing and can lead to disappointment.

It almost doesn’t matter what is said, the experience of someone who loved the decedent standing up and speaking on behalf of the departed is a powerful experience for both the speaker and the audience.

The personal eulogy is a gift to the departed and to those in the audience.

Don’t miss out on this extraordinary life experience.

I also like the Top Five Reasons to Give a Eulogy, especially number 5: It’s the right thing to do.

If a funeral is too good it risks being no good. Seamless scheduling + slick stage management + faultless timings + superb performances + splendid merchandise = too good to be real.

Here’s a moving example of what I mean, the conclusion of two posts written by a US blogger about his father’s funeral.

The funeral was almost over. The funeral director was clearly wrapping things up and this man came forward asking for a chance to say one last thing. He was a short man and was of East Indian descent. I recognized him only because he had introduced himself to me before the funeral. With apparent nervousness and a heavy accent, he began to speak.

“I work for Chip for six year. When I look for a job he interview me and he is very nice. When I work for him I never see anything on his face but a smile. In six year he never say a thing to hurt my feeling. He help me and my whole family. He is a good man to work for. When he leave (company) we walk out the door with him and he gave me his book to help me understand some things. There were some tears on my face. Thank you.”

This was the most moving of all of the speakers, in my opinion. Despite the fact that the service was ending, he felt compelled to speak, knowing he would never get another chance to say those things in that forum. Despite his obviously difficulties with the language, he stood up and told this story and blew away those assembled with his simple story of how with nothing more than a little kindness and decency, my father had made an immense impact on his life.

Be sure to read both posts. Find them here.

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