Funerals, although frequently sombre, can also be a celebration of a life well lived. Sharing memories, connections, values and the impact the deceased had on their friends and family can offer comfort to the bereaved. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if, at the end of life, the dying could hear the words that would be spoken about them at their funeral or memorial? A living eulogy provides just this opportunity – to let our beloved know the gratitude, love, and appreciation felt for having them present in our lives.
Writing a living eulogy doesn’t have to wait until someone you care about is nearing the end of life, it can be done at any time by jotting down the ways an important person has made a difference for you personally. Specific examples can help illustrate the love you feel, but no need to overthink it – a quick note straight from your heart can often have the greatest impact.
According to a recent New York Times Happiness Challenge report, research shows that writing a note of appreciation has an immediate, positive impact on feelings of connection and well-being for both the recipient and the sender. A handwritten note, email, text or reading can all achieve the same benefits. The happiest people take time to let those they love know their importance and value.
Acknowledging and sharing gratitude helps boost our sense of well-being and contentment. Sharing this appreciation for our loved ones helps us build stronger ties, and gives others a greater sense of value and belonging.
Not sure where to begin?
According to end-of-life planning company Cake, writing a living eulogy starts with getting in the right headspace to write a meaningful memorial. Choose a time when you won’t be interrupted in a place that helps get the memories and words flowing. Having a picture of the person close by may help.
Next, try making an outline of what you want to say – it might include a favourite quote or song lyric, achievements, legacy, a memorable story and a conclusion. How personal you might get depends on whether or not your words will be spoken aloud in front of a group, or read in private.
After getting a framework in place, the writer may need to verify some dates or clarify other details. Once the main ideas are down on paper, go back and edit, making sure to include personal details. A touch of humour can lighten the mood and is often appreciated to help provide balance.