A Eulogy is a speech to farewell a person who has passed away. In the aged care industry, staff are occasionally asked to deliver eulogies; either by the family of the departed or by management. In this article I have residential care staff in mind.
If you are asked to deliver a eulogy, consider it a great honor. You may have been requested because you are kind, capable and compassionate or because the person held you in high esteem or because management consider you competent or, all three. Your job is to deliver a fitting memorial to those present by bringing the person to life for a few minutes; by giving all present a little comfort with a light, positive portrayal of that person.
I have delivered half a dozen eulogies for my workplace and my recommendation is; keep it short. There is not much time to write, rehearse or prepare for obvious reasons. The rule of thumb for the length of a eulogy is 3 to 5 minutes.
If you know someone who has written a eulogy before, ask them for help. Remember that people are there to mourn and also to celebrate the life of the person.
A eulogy can be spontaneous or have a chronological style. It is my opinion that the chronological style is rather lengthy and more appropriate for relatives to write. A spontaneous eulogy centers on the recent past and other staff members can help you with the outline.Start by writing down an outline for the eulogy, using one or more of the following ideas:
"Silvia was an unassuming, kind lady, very protective of her privacy. Therefore I am not going to talk about her past history, I would rather like to tell you what kind of person she was during the past 4 years that I have known her.
Silvia was a Hairdresser and she loved to go to our salon on Wednesday to talk to the hairdresser and give advice to customers. Having no children of her own, she was often visited by her two nieces Linda and Trish with whom she had a close and loving relationship.
Silvia loved children and she never missed our fortnightly playgroup when a crowd of toddlers came for a visit.
Earlier this year she celebrated her 90th birthday and the all-day party was unforgettable.
She may have gone but the warmth she radiated will stay with us for a long time. She will be certainly missed by all who knew her. May you rest in Peace Silvia".
"Bert was a charming, enthusiastic, quick tempered and generous man. He was proud of his Scottish heritage and his four children and seven grandchildren.
His arrival at (facility's name) changed the consensus in our recreation room. He soon became a leader; organizing card games, choosing venues for bus trips, and befriending and protecting those whom he perceived as 'underdogs'. He loved John Wayne's movies and had everyone watching them.
His quick temper sometimes got him into some strife, but it was always quickly resolved because Bert was also fair and could see the point of view of others.
May you rest in Peace Bert. It was a privilege knowing you.
I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. (Stephen Grellet)
May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall soft upon your fields, and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand. (Irish Blessing)
Let us be contented with what has happened and be thankful
For all that we have been spared.
Let us accept the natural order of things in which we move
Let us reconcile ourselves to the mysterious rhythm of our
Destinies; such as they must be in this world of space and time
Let us treasure our joys but not bewail our sorrows
The glory of light cannot exist without its shadows
Life is a whole, and good and ill must be accepted together
The journey has been enjoyable and well worth making... once. (Sir Winston Churchil)
Many years ago I was asked by management to deliver a eulogy for one of our residents.
Ralph was an orphan and an unmarried man with few friends and he passed away shortly before his 88th birthday.
I am sharing this with you because it was my first eulogy and despite knowing Ralph well I felt out of my depth with the responsibility.
Nevertheless I accepted the assignment and did the best I could. I didn't follow any rules and spoke from the heart. I decided to read a poem before the eulogy because I felt self-conscious of my short speech. I didn't rehearse and it didn't occur to me that I was going to be overcome by grief halfway through my speech.
To cut a long story short, I blubbered my way to the end and was touched when, after the funeral one of Ralph's friends thanked me profusely. So don't be hard on yourself if it is your first time; the best you can do will be fine. (This eulogy lasted for 3 minutes speaking slowly and clearly).
I would like to start by reading a poem in memory of Ralph.
Do not stand at my grave and forever weep.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and forever cry.
I am not there. I did not die.
It is with sadness that we are assembled here today to pay our last respects to Ralph. I met Ralph three years ago. As a new member of the staff at ... one of my duties was to get to know the residents so I went to Ralph's room to make his acquaintance. What I found was a quiet and gentle man with a rather sad demeanour. He received me politely and this was the start of a mutual friendship.
Ralph enjoyed the solitude of his bedroom, where he spent most of his time watching sports on TV. However he was happy to talk to staff when they came for visits and I visited him weekly.
I enjoyed my visits with Ralph. He had a good sense of humour and a quick wit. Ralph was never married and one day I asked him why not, and he said: "I still might; here I am trying to woo you!"
Ralph was an orphan and often talked about his difficult childhood; he was raised in several foster homes. Once I asked him if he had any good memories of his childhood and taking his time he answered: "Yes, a fishing trip where I caught 4 mullets and a ticket to the circus".
He also had a challenging time in the army but considered his time there as 'good times'. He was a POW in Papua New Guinea and was awarded 5 bravery medals for his efforts. On Anzac day, I would sit by his bed and polish the war medals he was so proud of.
His passing leaves me with a hollow feeling that I should have done more.
I am comforted that Ralph is no longer suffering.
May you Rest in Peace my friend.