Attending your first funeral is a daunting affair. What is the protocol? What do you wear? What do you say to the next of kin after the service? With the passing of time you sadly attend more as friends, work colleagues and elders pass away. These can be dour and solemn affairs, or a celebration of life, full of warmth and amusing memories. The tone is reflected in the eulogy, read out before the internment by a clergyman, humanist, friend or relation. They can be serious and factual – providing a simple timeline of the deceased’s life – or anecdotal and amusing.
The person who writes and delivers the eulogy is often a stranger to the family, someone who is paid to orchestrate the event, and has taken information about the deceased from a relative. Some cynics may wonder if the same eulogy is used time and again, with just a few changes to the names and dates.
People do not like to think about their mortality, which is often the reason for not writing a will – the ostrich head in sand syndrome; and when you are young you expect to live forever anyway. So are we bothered about the eulogy at our own funeral? Obituaries for people of note and in the public eye are prepared by the media in advance so that they can be quickly retrieved and published when needed. So why not prepare your own whilst you can still remember what has happened in your life?
Start off with key dates, locations, names, education and occupations. Use diaries, social media and photographs for research. Write about those you have loved, liked and hated. Work on amusing stories and contrast with tragedies. If you are inclined why not video your own eulogy, and leave instructions for it to be played at your funeral? But perhaps this is a bit too macabre.
Anyone who has done genealogical research of their family would love to have access to the biographies of their ancestors. One day someone will want yours so why not leave one for them.