The Depressing ‘Compliment’ People Give In Eulogies For Older Women

How well do you know the women in your life?

funeral, eulogy, depressing @auntiekilljoy / TikTok / Yuri A / Shutterstock 

If you were to die tomorrow, how would you want your loved ones to remember you and keep your memory alive? While funeral speeches are meant to give loved ones a chance to speak about the things they will miss most about the person who has passed, in some cases, it reveals just how little even their closest friends and family really knew them. 

A woman on TikTok is shedding light on this harsh reality surrounding many older women and how their loved ones may have really perceived them all of their lives. The worst part is that many people believe that they are honoring and complimenting the women they thought they knew so well. 


Older women are often eulogized as selfless family caretakers, while nothing regarding who she was as an individual is recognized. 

Jessica Valenti, a feminist author living in New York, responded to a video where a woman pointed out the problematic expectation that is imposed on many women where they are expected to make sacrifices and take care of their families for their entire lives. 

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“When he tells you his mother is his female role model because she suffered her whole life, never did anything for herself, and basically sacrificed herself for the family because that’s what women do,” the woman wrote in the text overlay of the original video while shaking her head. 


Valenti pointed out that the woman’s video reveals a sad truth that's often exposed at women's funerals. “The eulogy is like, you can basically like you can copy and paste them. They are all so similar,” she explained, giving examples such as “She was completely selfless,” “She devoted herself entirely to her family or to her husband and her kids” and “She never did a thing for herself, it was always about her family.” 



Valenti notes that these remarks are “depressing” rather than inspiring or heartwarming.

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“It’s really then that you realize how little people know the women in their lives,” she says. “They don’t know them as full human beings and only know them in terms of what they can do for them.” 

Many TikTok users agreed, pointing out how sad it was that women’s families don't know who they are beyond being a family caretaker. 

“At a neighbor's funeral, the male family member doing the eulogy kept repeating, ‘She was a good girl’ like she was a dog and not an 80+-year-old woman,” one user commented. 

“Literally had to rewrite by grandmother's obituary after my uncle wrote a piece of prose that was ‘he was in WWII… she was at home waiting,’” another user shared. 

While men can go on to have any career and life they desire, women do not have the same reality. Even if they land their dream job, they are often expected to or forced to leave it behind once they get married and start a family. 


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According to the Mom Project, 43% of highly-skilled women leave their careers once they start a family. While some may view this as a “selfless” act, it promotes the unhealthy narrative that women must abandon any individuality they have once they get married and have children, and drop everything to take care of the household and their families. 

They may be praised for their sacrifices by loved ones after they are long gone, but the truth is, it was likely not the legacy they envisioned for themselves. However, it is, unfortunately, how many of them will be remembered. 

Now, many women are encouraging each other to start putting their desires into action to be more than housewives and mothers if they choose to be.


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A 2017 CareerBuilder survey found that 83% of women over the age of 25 were putting off starting a family so that they could focus on their careers. 

Even those who have children want them to recognize that they are more than just a caretaker. They are individuals with interests beyond raising a family and want their loved ones to know that. 


“This has changed me today,” another TikTok user noted of Valenti’s video. “I want my daughter to know me as a full person so she knows she can be both a mom AND her wonderful self.” 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.