What Is A Eulogy For? A Personal Perspective
I recently went to a family funeral – a beloved old aunty who had charmed me as a child with her stories, songs, eccentric antics and sheer love of life.
Aunty Marg, as she was fondly known, was the ‘mad’ one of the family. When we grew up, we initially dismissed her as being a bit batty, and on her rare visits up from Rotherham, my brother and I, (I’m sorry to say), didn’t pay her much attention.
As we grew older, I began to appreciate she truly was a one-off. With a larger-than-life personality, her visits became a pleasure, rather than a chore. We roared with laughter about the story of her working as a mechanic in the Women’s Royal Air Force (when she dropped a screwdriver in the engine and grounded a war plane for 2 days). And the stories of boyfriends loved and lost, and the time she put her foot through the ceiling of our brand-new house as it was being built… she truly was, as they say in the north, ‘a card’!
But it wasn’t until her funeral that I learned of her love for classic literature – and how well-read she really was. Or that she’d seen The Merry Widow 27 times. Or that she was a devoted cricket fan, and would sit with her sister, both armed with bottles of gin, and watch entire test series for days on end.
I’ve written many eulogis for other people, but this was the first time since becoming a celebrant, that I saw it from a different perspective. It made me realise that the point of a eulogy isn’t just to say give somebody a send-off and acknowledge their achievements and story – it’s also to fill the gaps in for those saying goodbye or maybe even help change a perspective on the person, or life in general, for others. It’s the full stop at the end of somebody’s story. Done, dusted. And in the right hands - properly told.
A good eulogy leaves nobody feeling cheated, and everyone satisfied – a little warmer for having known the person, maybe more inspired to do or change something in their own lives, because of them.
I’d like to congratulate the lady who held my aunty’s ceremony. She did a great job, layers peeled back and beautifully delivered. I’d like to think I do the same quality job; but with this new realisation in mind, it will make me work even harder, knowing the outcomes at stake. RIP Aunty Marg.