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Bringing down the house
The eulogy is known as the speech given at a memorial, celebration of life or funeral service. At its best, it both commemorates and celebrates your life and it’s typically delivered by a family member, close friend or minister.
Traditionally, eulogies are written and presented by a close family member or friend on your behalf, after you’ve passed. Flash-forward to modern times. These days, preparing your own eulogy is one of the most direct ways to have more control over parting impressions. So, how would you like to be remembered?
CheckOutPlan to the rescue!
In keeping with the philosophy of being prepared, within CheckOutPlan™ you’ll find tools and tips on how to write a powerful eulogy that tells the story of your life. You’ll also find pre-written eulogies and examples of real-life eulogies. (links to these)
When you’re ready to begin, use the pre-written content to help you create your own powerful eulogy and turn it into a document to share. Once completed, share the Eulogy with your team using CheckOutPlan™ and they will be able to download your document.
How to start
So now is the best time to write a eulogy, but where to start? Writing a eulogy can be as simple or as difficult as you make it, but it’s not as scary as you might think. Consider it like a snapshot of the things that were most important to you. Read on for some easy tips to make this endeavour as painless as possible.
Remember, there is no wrong way to write a eulogy. This is the time to condense your life experiences into a three to ten-minute tribute. Remember who your audience is—a variety of people who knew you from childhood, family life, business and leisure. Each person present, including your eulogy speaker, knew you, but everyone has a different perspective of who you were. Write with your audience in mind and don’t be afraid to share some of yourself.
The eulogy is a brief story of you: who you were, what you accomplished and the myriad of life experiences and quirks that helped shape you. Just like any story, your story needs to have a beginning, middle and end. Putting them together into a heartfelt speech is all you need to do.
The act of drafting your eulogy will often direct the tone, whether it be lighthearted and sweet, irreverent and humorous, serious with a touch of decorum, somber with religious overtones, or a creative combination. Convey your personality and depict some of your achievements, dreams, wisdom, joy, etc.
Some people have found it helpful to jot down juicy and entertaining slices of their lives in a journal or notebook. This can help you get an idea of what kind of eulogy you want. You can also brainstorm the things that you want to cover, like your characteristics, life journey, achievements and the legacy you leave behind. You want to be able to paint a picture of yourself. From your brainstorming and notes, find the theme/topic that will be the spine of your eulogy. Maybe the theme is your love for your family, the joy you had for living life to its fullest, your contributions to your community or your strength to overcome obstacles.
If you have difficulty putting together words to describe the story of your life, you can always check out other eulogies to see what others have said and to get inspired to create something uniquely your own.
Let a famous phrase or saying guide you
It can be helpful to think of a meaningful saying, phrase, or even a song lyric and let this give form to your eulogy. If it is a well-known verse or saying, it will likely resonate well with your audience. To capture the moment, open your eulogy with this phrase and end with a slightly different, more personalized version of it and bring down the house.
Have you brainstormed and are now feeling ready to begin? Start with an outline, just like writing a school paper, and then develop your story. Utilize your journal or notes for the body and then sum up your thoughts or share a happy memory that ties everything together for your ending. Make sure not to write in first person, but in third person, using he or she.
To start, introduce yourself briefly by including your full name and perhaps include whether you were a spouse and/or parent and if you were identified by your profession, like a doctor, or a character trait, like kindness or being a dedicated volunteer, or a favourite hobby, such as an avid golfer. For example, “Dr. John Doe was a loving family man who doted on his wife, three children and five grandchildren. When not enjoying his family or helping people in his family practice, the good doctor could be found on his favourite golf course.”
Move into the body of the eulogy and in several paragraphs tell your audience the key points of where you came from, whether it was humble beginnings, a big, jovial family or a vibrant city, for example. Move on to who you became and what your life was like, such as your passions, family, career and interests. Be concise and specific to describe yourself. If you mention a quality, depict it with an anecdote. If you are known for something specific, be sure to mention it, and give a supporting story to emphasize it, whether it’s your love of animals and your involvement with the local animal rescue or being a jokester or a mentor.
Keep a clear beginning, middle and end and don’t go off on tangents or spend too much time on one subject. The best eulogies are clear, and concise, and therefore powerful and meaningful. You want to keep people’s attention focused, not wandering. It will be challenging enough for your loved ones to stay focused during this time of grieving, so try to keep your eulogy short.
End on a positive note and leave a fond memory in the minds of your loved ones. If applicable, mention that you are at peace or in Heaven or with other loved ones that have passed or whatever you believe to be true.
A life and a eulogy… well done
Once the writing is over, set your eulogy aside for a few days and then read it with fresh eyes. Read it aloud to hear if it flows or if there are awkward phrases. If you worry your eulogy is too long, time it as you read, and then edit it down to a comfortable time frame for both your speaker and your audience. If you’re uncertain that your eulogy truly captured you, ask close friends and/or family to read it and provide input. Remember, you’re not writing your life story, you are giving your loved ones a glowing reminder of who you were.
Satisfied with your eulogy? Select Share with Team and it will be saved in your CheckOutPlan workspace at CheckOutPlan.com, where it will be ready for easy retrieval by your trusty Team Members when it’s needed.
Choosing your eulogist
Next, it’s time to choose your presenter. Check-Out recommends that you choose a back-up presenter as well, just in case. Whoever you chose, make sure that person knows to introduce himself or herself to the audience and indicate how they are connected to you before they begin your heartfelt eulogy. If your end-of-life event will be a very religious funeral, typically only clergy deliver the eulogy.
As with writing a great eulogy, CheckOutPlan.com provides other helpful tools and workspaces to help you create a detailed end-of-life plan and share your memories. Everything can be updated and shared with your Team Members any time. Check-Out makes planning easy, and even entertaining, and it will help you remain well-remembered.
By C. Bowles for Check-Out Planning Services Ltd.
Check-Out helps people and their families plan end-of-life events, store their memories and more. Enjoy a 7-day free trial and discover how easy and rewarding it is to know you’ve protected your family from the additional grief and conflict that comes from no plan at all. Build a thoughtful CheckOutPlan that will support your family and friends just when they need it most.
Visit CheckOutPlan.com to discover how easy it is… And powerful.
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