“The Eulogy: A Job Well Done!”

I’m always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realize I’m listening to it.                                                                                                                                                            George Carlin

qqqqLast Friday morning I had the grim misfortune of attending yet another funeral at St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church in Azusa. It was a solemn service, beautiful in its simplicity. Steve, a close friend of mine and the nephew of the deceased, delivered a very stirring and heartfelt eulogy. He spoke of his aunt with fondness and love as he shared a brief history of her life, touched on special moments that brought great joy and happiness as well as some moments that caused deep sorrow and pain. He shared his own personal memories and told of the important role his aunt played in forging family unity and meaningful family traditions. His love was evident in every word he spoke.

When he finished speaking I sat there thinking about what he had said, wondering about who his aunt really was. Although he had put together a touching portrait of her life, he had only scratched the surface. There was still so much more to know about her. I knew his aunt or at least I thought I did. She lived right down the street from me when I was a kid. I know the family yet there was still so much I didn’t know. I sat there wondering  how an entire lifetime, in this case 85 years, can be condensed into a 15 or 20 minute presentation?  There is no way, it’s impossible right? I mean you could spend 20 minutes talking about just one portion of her life.

I had never really thought about it before, but sitting there in church I realized that writing a eulogy is a very difficult task. Steve had to have put in countless hours in preparing his presentation. He had to go through the arduous task of sorting through facts, stories and personal memories, picking and choosing just the right ones, then put them together coherently into a meaningful summation that would capture the essence of who his aunt really was, her many accomplishments and more importantly, how she touched our lives. Definitely not an easy task.

The physical and mental toil alone are difficult enough but add to that the emotional strain, particularly when you are close to the deceased and the pressure has to be intense. How Steve reigned in his emotions and kept them in check as he wrote is beyond me. I know it had to be difficult, he’s been through an awful lot this year already. I don’t know how you do it. I fancy myself a writer but truth be told, I really don’t think I could have done it.

Kudos to you my friend. To a job well done! I’m sure your aunt approves and I know your dad is very proud of you.

Love you man…

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