Remembering someone special in a personal way can be caring for everyone concerned, for a eology is a deeply personal way of saying goodbye. The key word is life, and you've been given the opportunity to celebrate a loved one's life in the individual way that made your friend unique. Do not be daunted by the task, just take these simple steps for a sincere and moving last farewell.
To prepare a eology, you will need to be well prepared. The eulogy should convey your feelings and your experiences and should be written in an informal, conversational tone. It's not for summarizing the person's life and it does not have to speak for all present. Just sit down and write from your heart. So, where do you start?
- Get your material
First, collect some biographical facts: age, working life, marriage dates, places lived, children, and so on. Ask the family, they will welcome the chance to talk about their loved one. Then collect personal facts: special skills and achievements, characteristics, hobbies, etc. Now think about the stories you remember, or the turn of phrase or typical behavior that captures a person's character so well.
Here are some questions to get you thinking:
- How did you and the deceased become close? When did you meet?
- What's a humourous or touching event that sticks in your mind. Does it represent the individuality of your friend?
- What did you most like and admire about the deceased?
- What will you miss most about this person?
- What will you always remember?
Some of the simplest thoughts are deeply touching. For example, "I'll miss his crooked grin" "I'll always remember her bubbling laughing". These warm touches will bring loving memories to those who are listening. Some of the best memorial services are filled with fond remembrances and laughter. Poetry is inspirational, and also of great assistance in writing a eology.
2. Organize your material
Write your notes in point form on sheets of paper or on 3×5 file cards – one idea to a card. Now group the cards into piles of similar topics. Then sort each pile of cards into a logical order. Write your first draft. Use linking sentences to make each topic flow easily into the next. Pay most attention to your beginning and ending. As you write, edit and polish, keep the words "celebration" and "thanksgiving" in your mind.
If you're not used to speaking in public, start practicing. Run an Internet search on 'speaking tips' or borrow a book on speaking from the library. Read your speech into a tape and then play it back. You'll be able to polish your erology and your delivery. Now stand in front of a mirror and practice some more. Even someone who has never spoken in public at all will do a good job with practice.
4. How do you keep calm?
It does not sound easy, but you can do it. If you're worried about choking up or breaking down in the middle of your eology, you can take a moment to compose yourself, then carry on. This is perfectly acceptable. If you're afraid you may break down while in the middle of the eology and find yourself unable to recover, ask someone ahead of time to be ready to take over at a signal from you. Give them a copy of your eology. Just knowing you have a backup speaker will probably be all you need to stay calm.
Above all, remember to breathe
You'll only have to speak for five to ten minutes, but your gift will live on in the hearts of the Deceased's family and friends