How To Write A Life-Affirming Eulogy For A Loved One

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Heartbreak

Learning how to write a eulogy may not be at the forefront of our minds.

But this year, we've faced our mortality with a grim collective awareness of the fragility of life, and that relationships are interdependent and dear.

More people have passed on from this pandemic than any viral infection in living memory.

You may have even been affected by the death of someone you know.

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Death is a constant, no matter what the year or cause. We can take the opportunity to transform what most of us recoil from.

It's time to embrace eulogizing those we have known to celebrate their life while mourning their death.

We usually leave it to the clergy to memorialize our loved ones. They are the professionals.

We may feel unworthy, embarrassed, or simply unprepared to say more than just a few condolence words to the grieving family.

While the clergy have a role, we knew the deceased. Thus, we had a unique opportunity to add personal recollections and stories to console those who mourn with us.

You don't have to be a great speaker to create a great eulogy. But you do need intention, preparation, stories, and a script that brings the intimacy of your relationship to life.

So, if you want to know how to write a eulogy for a loved one, here are 4 steps to get you ready.

1. Know your intention.

What purposes do you have in giving this eulogy?

Perhaps you're consoling the family, doing justice to the life of a dear person, or maybe adding insightful understanding to the thoughts, feelings, and actions that only you knew and shared with this person.

2. Have proper preparation.

Don't wing it! You may be emotionally charged and feeling raw from the loss.

Take some time to write down whatever you think and feel. Then, put it away for a while and edit to be concise, coherent, and clear.

Eliminate wordiness and redundancy. Organize your eulogy so it logically flows with just one or two points that people can remember.

3. Look back on stories.

Start with key personal characteristics you want to focus on, then briefly tell stories to illustrate those characteristics. Each story should be told in a conversational style.

If you can, add appropriate humor, which can ease some of the tension. The stories should be about the deceased and the effect that person had upon you and others.

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4. Work on delivery.

Write the eulogy and rehearse several times. As you speak, continue to edit. You may find that certain words, phrases, or even paragraphs can be shortened or eliminated.

Brevity is a virtue. Be familiar enough with what you say so your speech delivery is comfortable for you. Be prepared for tears as you speak.

Often, our emotions are heightened when we actually say to the bereaved the words we have written.

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Here's an outline you can use to draft your eulogy.

What was your relationship?

What message about that person’s loved ones can you share to console?

What characteristics and actions made this individual special?

Briefly, relate stories to illustrate the effect the individual has had on you and others.

Conclude with how you remember that person and how we all can honor their legacy through attitudes, actions, and characteristics that we can collectively continue.

You can both honor and thank the deceased for what they meant for you that both consoles the bereaved and provides beautiful closure to your relationship.

A eulogy can be a fitting act of grieving and giving that affirms life while mourning a death.

To illustrate, check out my eulogy for mentor and friend Ron Berman, who passed on this year.

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Jeff Saperstein is a career transition coach. For more information on how he can help you land your dream job, visit his website.