We have reviewed hundreds of eulogies in order to bring you the Ultimate List of Eulogy Examples.
The eulogies in our Ultimate List were written for people from different walks of life. However, these eulogies have 2 things in common.
One, these eulogies have managed to capture the character, spirit and legacy of the person that passed away. Two, they inspire us all to live life to the fullest and to love without reserve.
If you are faced with writing a eulogy for a loved one, we hope you find inspiration in our Ultimate List of Eulogy Examples:
- Eulogy Examples: Dad
- Eulogy Examples: Mom
- Eulogy Examples: Husband
- Eulogy Examples: Wife
- Eulogy Examples: Son
- Eulogy Examples: Daughter
- Eulogy Examples: Baby and Young Child
- Eulogy Examples: Brother
- Eulogy Examples: Sister
- Eulogy Examples: Grandfather
- Eulogy Examples: Grandmother
- Eulogy Examples: Friend
- Eulogy Examples: Funny
- Eulogy Examples: Religious
Eulogy Examples: Dad
Example 1: Son’s Eulogy for His Father
Eulogy for George H.W. Bush by his son George W. Bush
Distinguished Guests, including our Presidents and First Ladies, government officials, foreign dignitaries, and friends: Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I, and our families, thank you all for being here.
I once heard it said of man that “The idea is to die young as late as possible.”
At age 85, a favorite pastime of George H. W. Bush was firing up his boat, the Fidelity, and opening up the three-300 horsepower engines to fly – joyfully fly – across the Atlantic, with Secret Service boats straining to keep up.
At 90, George H. W. Bush parachuted out of an aircraft and landed on the grounds of St. Ann’s by the Sea in Kennebunkport, Maine – the church where his mom was married and where he’d worshipped often. Mother liked to say he chose the location just in case the chute didn’t open.
In his 90’s, he took great delight when his closest pal, James A. Baker, smuggled a bottle of Grey Goose vodka into his hospital room. Apparently, it paired well with the steak Baker had delivered from Morton’s.
To his very last days, Dad’s life was instructive. As he aged, he taught us how to grow old with dignity, humor, and kindness – and, when the Good Lord finally called, how to meet Him with courage and with joy in the promise of what lies ahead.
One reason Dad knew how to die young is that he almost did it – twice. When he was a teenager, a staph infection nearly took his life. A few years later he was alone in the Pacific on a life raft, praying that his rescuers would find him before the enemy did.
God answered those prayers. It turned out He had other plans for George H.W. Bush. For Dad’s part, I think those brushes with death made him cherish the gift of life. And he vowed to live every day to the fullest.
Dad was always busy – a man in constant motion – but never too busy to share his love of life with those around him. He taught us to love the outdoors. He loved watching dogs flush a covey. He loved landing the elusive striper. And once confined to a wheelchair, he seemed happiest sitting in his favorite perch on the back porch at Walker’s Point contemplating the majesty of the Atlantic. The horizons he saw were bright and hopeful. He was a genuinely optimistic man. And that optimism guided his children and made each of us believe that anything was possible.
He continually broadened his horizons with daring decisions. He was a patriot. After high school, he put college on hold and became a Navy fighter pilot as World War II broke out. Like many of his generation, he never talked about his service until his time as a public figure forced his hand. We learned of the attack on Chichi Jima, the mission completed, the shoot-down. We learned of the death of his crewmates, whom he thought about throughout his entire life. And we learned of his rescue.
And then, another audacious decision; he moved his young family from the comforts of the East Coast to Odessa, Texas. He and mom adjusted to their arid surroundings quickly. He was a tolerant man. After all, he was kind and neighborly to the women with whom he, mom and I shared a bathroom in our small duplex – even after he learned their profession – ladies of the night
Dad could relate to people from all walks of life. He was an empathetic man. He valued character over pedigree. And he was no cynic. He looked for the good in each person – and usually found it.
Dad taught us that public service is noble and necessary; that one can serve with integrity and hold true to the important values, like faith and family. He strongly believed that it was important to give back to the community and country in which one lived. He recognized that serving others enriched the giver’s soul. To us, his was the brightest of a thousand points of light.
In victory, he shared credit. When he lost, he shouldered the blame. He accepted that failure is part of living a full life, but taught us never to be defined by failure. He showed us how setbacks can strengthen.
None of his disappointments could compare with one of life’s greatest tragedies, the loss of a young child. Jeb and I were too young to remember the pain and agony he and mom felt when our three-year-old sister died. We only learned later that Dad, a man of quiet faith, prayed for her daily. He was sustained by the love of the Almighty and the real and enduring love of our mom. Dad always believed that one day he would hug his precious Robin again.
He loved to laugh, especially at himself. He could tease and needle, but never out of malice. He placed great value on a good joke. That’s why he chose Simpson to speak. On email, he had a circle of friends with whom he shared or received the latest jokes. His grading system for the quality of the joke was classic George Bush. The rare 7s and 8s were considered huge winners – most of them off-color.
George Bush knew how to be a true and loyal friend. He honored and nurtured his many friendships with his generous and giving soul. There exist thousands of handwritten notes encouraging, or sympathizing, or thanking his friends and acquaintances.
He had an enormous capacity to give of himself. Many a person would tell you that dad became a mentor and a father figure in their life. He listened and he consoled. He was their friend. I think of Don Rhodes, Taylor Blanton, Jim Nantz, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and perhaps the unlikeliest of all, the man who defeated him, Bill Clinton. My siblings and I refer to the guys in this group as “brothers from other mothers.”
He taught us that a day was not meant to be wasted. He played golf at a legendary pace. I always wondered why he insisted on speed golf. He was a good golfer.
Well, here’s my conclusion: he played fast so that he could move on to the next event, to enjoy the rest of the day, to expend his enormous energy, to live it all. He was born with just two settings: full throttle, then sleep.
He taught us what it means to be a wonderful father, grandfather, and great grand-father. He was firm in his principles and supportive as we began to seek our own ways. He encouraged and comforted, but never steered. We tested his patience – I know I did – but he always responded with the great gift of unconditional love.
Last Friday, when I was told he had minutes to live, I called him. The guy who answered the phone said, “I think he can hear you, but hasn’t said anything most of the day. I said, “Dad, I love you, and you’ve been a wonderful father.” And the last words he would ever say on earth were, “I love you, too.”
To us, he was close to perfect. But, not totally perfect. His short game was lousy. He wasn’t exactly Fred Astaire on the dance floor. The man couldn’t stomach vegetables, especially broccoli. And by the way, he passed these genetic defects along to us.
Finally, every day of his 73 years of marriage, Dad taught us all what it means to be a great husband. He married his sweetheart. He adored her. He laughed and cried with her. He was dedicated to her totally.
In his old age, dad enjoyed watching police show reruns, volume on high, all the while holding mom’s hand. After mom died, Dad was strong, but all he really wanted to do was to hold mom’s hand, again.
Of course, Dad taught me another special lesson. He showed me what it means to be a President who serves with integrity, leads with courage, and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country. When the history books are written, they will say that George H.W. Bush was a great President of the United States – a diplomat of unmatched skill, a Commander in Chief of formidable accomplishment, and a gentleman who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honor.
In his Inaugural Address, the 41st President of the United States said this: “We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood and town better than he found it. What do we want the men and women who work with us to say when we are no longer there? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us? Or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better, and stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship?”
Well, Dad – we’re going remember you for exactly that and so much more.
And we’re going to miss you. Your decency, sincerity, and kind soul will stay with us forever. So, through our tears, let us see the blessings of knowing and loving you – a great and noble man, and the best father a son or daughter could have.
And in our grief, let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding mom’s hand again.
Example 2: Son’s Eulogy For His Father
Duty, decency, reliability, honour, dignity, respect: these are all qualities that my father not only held in high esteem, but practised every day during his time on this earth.
He was a serious and disciplined man, but he could never resist the opportunity to have a laugh with friends and loved ones, given half the chance.
He saw a lot during his lifetime: a world ravaged by war, (he was himself served in the armed forces in Vietnam), and an uncertain world with the Cold War, the Oil Crisis, and Iraq all understandably influencing his views on the post-war world in which he himself grew up and, later, raised his own family.
Let alone the social and cultural revolution exploding around him with the onset of the 1960s.
Dad was an only child, who lived in and around Sydney up until his retirement from the motor industry, where he moved with Mum to the Central Coast.
They married young—at age 20—and remained happily together for over half a century.
When free of their parental responsibilities, Dad would whisk Mum off for some mad adventure, often without her knowing where they were going.
As a father of three though, he was often happiest when left to his own devices—whether it was building a shed, tending to the garden, or fixing one of his cars.
He was a self-professed petrol head, and loved nothing more than jumping in the car and driving—sometimes for hours—for some much-needed relief and relaxation from a family of five.
More often than not, he wouldn’t be gone for that long, but admitted that he loved driving so much, he looked for any excuse to have a spin. His precious Austin Healey was his most prized possession—a car that he drove till the day he died.
When Susan, Claire and myself moved out of home and started families of our own, I began to understand my father in new way.
We were able to find time to sit and discuss what it means to be a parent, particularly in a modern world that’s fast-changing and very different to the one in which either of us were born.
Dad gave sage advice on everything from teaching my kids manners and responsibility, to the other important area of family life: keeping one’s partner happy and the marriage healthy and alive.
Dad was a straightforward man who demanded little from those around him, and who expected only the best for his three children.
Provided he heard regularly from us all—and saw us whenever possible—he was content.
And although in his final years, we’d all moved on to different parts of the world, that bond was never broken.
To me, Dad’s finest quality was his patience: an inherent ability to listen, to absorb and to offer a point of view based on quiet, measured wisdom.
I’ll never forget the time when I asked him what I should do about having to move overseas for my career: “Do what you feel, what you believe is right. Follow your gut, your heart, and you can’t go wrong.”
It’s difficult to imagine him not being around and I’m not sure how we will all cope.
The grandchildren, Billy and Leo will miss him dearly.
It’s strange to think that I can’t just give him a call or pop around to have one of our good old yarns.
Dad lived a long and happy life, and only succumbed to ill health right at the very end.
He was an imposing figure of a man, a tall, dark, handsome character whose reassuring presence we all felt during difficult times.
As we gather here today to remember and commemorate his life, let bid him farewell as we mourn the loss of a lively, dignified soul.
A soul that brought joy and fulfilment to many, and whose legacy will live on forever.
Example 3: Daughter’s Eulogy For Her Dad
Dad was the light of my life.
Even as a little girl, I remember him making me laugh so much I would nearly cry. He had a wicked sense of humour that rubbed off on anyone that was near him.
No one was upset around Dad for too long—although he did have his serious side, too, of course.
Dad grew up in the country, on a dairy farm a few hours from Melbourne called Toora and was surrounded by sheep, farm animals and beautiful landscape.
But his love for the written word drew him to the ‘big smoke’ to study literature at Trinity College in Melbourne.
He said his passion came from his grandfather who used read endlessly to him.
Stories that even as an adult he loved dearly and would read to us when we were kids. His favourites were Moby Dick and Tom Sawyer.
My parents met at Trinity College and after graduating, decided to get married.
Two years later I was born, followed by my brother Charlie a year after that.
Dad was always so caring and giving to us children. Even when we ran in and out of his office a million times interrupting his writing, Dad never got too angry.
He would usher us away with suggestions of how we could occupy ourselves—always with creative and new ideas.
Dad was also inspirational to us, with his passion for music. He loved most types, but his favourite was Neil Diamond.
On Sunday afternoons, we would gather in the lounge room and Dad would put on his ‘album of the week’.
He would pull Mum in his arms and dance around the room while we clapped hands and giggled—and then it was our turn.
Dad would grab us both and swing us up and around until we were sick with laughter and dizziness. The fun we had on those Sundays, I will never forget.
Dad was a very clever man and could be introspective at times when there were serious decisions to be made.
He never made rash decisions, but thought long and hard before giving us advice—sound advice that has helped to shape my life profoundly.
He was always walking around saying that “life is too short to be hunched over a desk all your life, you must go out into the world and experience its beauty and learn its mysteries”.
Even as adults Dad inspired us, although we never really told him.
Every couple of months the family would receive invitations to one of his infamous week-ends away. He would find a mystery location—always near a river or the ocean, and send us directions at the last minute.
We were prepared, as we had learnt years ago what the week-end would involve.
We would pack everything needed to go swimming, fishing, snorkelling, or if in the winter months bush walks and sightseeing—it was always a week-end of fun and activity.
Times that we all and especially the grandchildren will never forget.
Dad: Your love, your patience, your understanding, your wisdom and your amazing sense of humour will live on inside us forever.
You have given us gifts that are more precious than anything in this world.
Goodbye, Dad. You will always live on in my heart.
Eulogy Examples: Mom
Example 1: Daughter’s Eulogy For Her Mother
She was a vibrant soul, one who literally lit up the room whenever she entered. And right up until she became less able to get around, Mum was full of joy and always eager to help out, no matter what the problem was.
Being a mother of four boisterous boys—me Nick, Al and Johnny, Mum had a hard time juggling the demands of us all, but she never complained at her unenviable task, nor did she ever turn anyone away—be it family, friends or local faces, wanting to stop by the house for a quick chat.
Mum had an inherent love of music—in particular, the music of Elvis Presley—and she’d always find time to put one of the King’s hits on the stereo whenever she could. Much to Dad’s never-ending frustration, I might add!
Her favourite tune was “Blue Hawaii”—a song that became synonymous with the King’s movies, and one which she first heard when she was flying, as an air hostess, in the early 1960s.
In fact, it was while flying via India that she bumped into her future husband, who was cooling in an airport departure lounge, waiting to return home from army service.
Mum would always talk about those days as if they only happened yesterday, when the pair of them would take off in Dad’s car for some wild adventure, without the burden of four boys fighting on the back seat!
They shared a love of travel, and would often explore different parts of the country, investigating little country towns and farms off the beaten track. City slickers, they were not. And they were proud of the fact, too.
After I moved out of home, I’d often make time to go visit them both. The five-hour drive meant nothing, of course—particularly after Dad passed away, and Mum was on her own.
She thrived, though, in her own way—always keeping busy, never feeling sorry for herself, and always excited to see her boys, her nieces Susan and Jenny and nephews Josh, Mel and Chris, as well as friends from the town.
Mum was a popular lady and despite enjoying time alone, would welcome company as if it a natural extension of her new, quieter life.
Mum was raised in a small town in NSW, called Charlottes Pass.
She had one younger brother Harold, who grew up without his older sister, she had moved out of home at a young age to explore the world and create her own stamp on life.
She was never an outstanding student at school, but she maintained long-term friendships and interests from her school days, and always emphasised the importance of a good education to us all (and for our own children!).
After Mum and Dad moved to Adelaide, Mum continued her passion of art, painting to her heart’s content while Elvis merrily played on the record player (Mum never did accept the changing of technology—you’d never see a CD anywhere in her house!).
And though it irked Dad to have so much noise after he retired from his office job, he’d simply tend the garden, leaving Mum to enjoy her hobbies uninterrupted.
The last vacation they took together was to visit me two years ago in Sydney, a place I’d made my new home some 20 years back. Although they were both struggling with ill health by then, they put on a brave face and enjoyed two weeks of uninterrupted sunshine and warm weather.
Coming from the snow country, Mum, in particular, couldn’t stop raving about how stunning the climate was—and how beautiful the harbour was in Sydney.
My lasting memories of Mum are simple: a hard-working, passionate figure of strength who never waned in her support or love of her family, and who soldiered on, even when times were tough.
It is a great privilege to write this eulogy to express the sadness that all of us boys share over her loss.
Mum, thank you for everything you’ve given us—and the warmth we shared during your precious time on earth.
God bless you. Always.
Example 2: Daughter’s Eulogy For Her Mother
My mother, Helen, was a warm, compassionate and vibrant woman who always went out of her way to help others—no matter what.
She was a proud and dignified woman who had a passion for life.
She had a wonderful sense of humour which endeared her to everyone she came in contact with and it is a great testament to her nature that she formed so many long lasting friendships over the years.
So many of you here today.
Mum was born in 1939 at a time when Robert Menzies was Prime Minister, songs like ‘Over the Rainbow’ by Judy Garland were being played over the wireless, and WWII had just been declared.
She grew up in a small house in Sans Souci with her mother, Mary—having lost her father in the war when she was only an infant.
It was a difficult time, but they were both strong individuals and managed wonderfully.
Mum was brought up with traditional values and learnt the skills that a woman of her era should—cooking, sewing, knitting and embroidery, as well as a love of history.
She became a secondary school teacher and was a favourite at the school she taught—particularly a favourite with my father as this was where they first met.
Our mother taught us many things as young kids that hold us in good stead today—good manners, respect and sound moral values. These values have made me who I am and I thank her so very, very much.
Our family grew up with little money, but we were always well fed and well dressed. My mother spent hours in her sewing room making beautiful outfits for us to wear, or knitting jumpers in preparation for winter.
I will always remember our Christmases together—going to the church, all the chaos in the kitchen as Mum prepared for Christmas dinner, and the wonderful feeling of us all being together.
Mum also carried on Grandma’s tradition of putting ‘threepence’ in the pudding. It was with much delight that we would scoop into the pudding and eat feverishly, until one of us bit the hidden coin and proudly announced that we were the winner.
It was only years later that Mum found out we didn’t really like the pudding and only ate it to find the threepence – which, of course, was worthless by then.
As an adult she became my best friend, advisor and confidante. Her greatest quality was to encourage me to make the best of everything and to face problems head on.
She was a proud woman who believed that there was no obstacle that couldn’t be overcome.
Mum had many friends of all ages.
Even in retirement, she would have an endless stream of friends dropping in—kids in the neighbourhood would come over to ask Mum questions about their pet, school or to eat one of her home-baked cookies.
Mum has always been my support, strength and comfort when times have been tough.
I don’t know how I will cope without her—it leaves a massive hole in my life.
But I will draw strength from the things she taught me and live by the words from Desdemona that my mother always quoted, as if her own: “Accept the things you cannot change and change the things you can”.
It is an honour to stand before you and share my precious memories of my mother. She will be missed by all, but her memory will live on in us all forever.
I love you so much, Mum, and will miss you more than words can say.
Example 3: Step-Daughter’s Eulogy For Her Step-Mother
Irene was easy to talk to, a good listener and a wonderful communicator.
Right from the start she was more of an ‘adult friend’ mother to me because I was seventeen when she came into my life.
Our first of many one-on-one conversations was about dating and she quickly told me some of her own dating stories to break the ice.
In my senior year she encouraged me to apply to college and later steered me towards jobs. She always encouraged me to pursue my passions.
Irene was ahead of her time in many ways, having studied Transcendental Meditation in the 70s and she had astrology themed wallpaper! But at the same time she was an avid gardener, even unknowingly growing pot plants for a friend of mine in her garden.
She was good with numbers and investing. She loved to read, decorate her home, work on the condominium board, go to the beach, take nature hikes with her walking stick, work tirelessly at the inn recycling old hardware and cleaning up after our work weekends, she made attempts to please our father’s picky pallet (no one could feed him), she played cards (again attempting to please Dad by playing the right card (nope, we’re talking Dad here) and she had a deep love for animals.
She sang beautifully filling in forgotten words with looo-looo. She was incredibly beautiful. For some of our weddings she had her make-up professionally done but it only took away from her natural beauty.
Her presence would light up a room; it was her glow, her smile, her gentle touch. She made friends easily and people didn’t forget her.
She was funny. Even in her final years, with sheer will and stubbornness keeping her going, she never lost her sense of humor. If I spent the night I would check on her in the morning announcing, “You made it!” and she would laugh. Kind of dark humor I know but she got use to it.
Oh to have read her mind when she married Dad and moved in with us; seven kids ages 7 to 19. How many brain cells did she burn trying to figure out how to manage, where to start, what to do to encourage us to feel inspired about life…. and yet she did, connecting with each one of us, finding a common thread, planting a seed and loving us to grow. And she did the same thing with her grandchildren.
Like other men who have had their hearts broken and their lives shattered by the loss of their wives, my father set out to find a loving partner and a mother for his children. He could never have dreamed or imagined the impact this charming lady would have on so many, and what a legacy she would leave behind.
I don’t think she would have imagined it either. When asked, “What were you thinking marrying a man with 10 kids?” Her answer was? “I wasn’t. I just went along with it.” (and she laughed with a quizzical look on her face) like she was thinking that a magical power, unannounced to her, must have swept her up and gently transported her into a new life overnight.)
Which is basically what happened. Their courtship was only 6 wks long! Teenagers do not try this at home. They got lucky!
No, it wasn’t luck. Because… on one special night forty three years ago the stars lined up, the heavens opened, angels did their work…. and a miracle happened… for all of us.
By Allison Matthei
Example 4: Son’s Eulogy For His Mother
For those hear who do not know me, my name is Harry and I am Mary’s only son. Writing this eulogy to my mom was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but it was very important to me say some words to honor my mom.
My mom was a very patient and kindhearted woman. She cared greatly for every soul on earth – her friends, family, students and pets. It was so important to her that everyone around her was happy and loved.
My mom was a high school teacher and impacted the life of thousands of kids. She taught at the same school for more than 30 years and loved every minute of it. Her passion for education and teaching was the same from her first day teaching until her last. She was one of the favorite teachers at her high school and many of her former students kept in touch with her over the years.
My mom chose to be a teacher, not only for her passion for education, but also because of her love for her family. Being a teacher gave her the summer and other holidays off to spend with her husband and children. It meant a lot to us that she was around to take us to swimming lessons, watch our softball games, or help us with our homework. We also took family holidays tice per year, which made my brother and I closer with each other and our parents.
My mom also loved animals and was always rescuing cats and dogs from the animal shelter. There were always 3 or 4 pets at our house at one time. My mom also volunteered at the shelter and helped care for the pets that were brought in and helped find them loving homes.
There was a lot of love in my mom’s life. Even though she is gone now I know that her legacy will live on in all of us. She was an incredible teacher and mother who inspired everyone who knew her. Mom, your memory will live on in all of our hearts forever.
Example 5: Son’s Eulogy For His Mother
I’m a momma’s boy.
There, I said it.
It seems like I spent much of my early years trying to avoid that label, but my mom died a week ago, and the least I can do is to publicly acknowledge that she was the person most responsible for shaping who I am.
Barbara A. Hawkins, 80, died in her bed in her Peoria home surrounded by her family — as she would have wanted. Her death came less than a month after she was diagnosed with lung cancer.
No matter what you think of me, I believe you would have liked my mom. Most people did. She had a warm smile and made an effort to connect with everyone she met.
Everybody thinks they have a great mom, but as kids, we KNEW we had a great mom because everybody else told us so. She mothered all our friends who came into the house, even those with perfectly good mothers of their own.
I was her first born, the oldest of five children. A mother pours a lot into her first born, starting with expectations, and mom would have expected me to write about her now — as I did with my dad when he died almost 13 years ago.
Mom kept score on such things. My parents were divorced. She always taught us to love and honor our father, but I always thought she would have preferred for us to love her a little more.
Mom held the family together and raised us under difficult circumstances — and understandably wanted her children to recognize that. But no kid wants to choose between his parents, and I resisted letting her hear what she wanted.
From such a dynamic come complicated relationships.
I always wanted to be more like my dad, as most boys would, and thanks to the gene pool, everybody always said I looked just like him. My mind works a lot like his, too.
But everything that comes from the heart, the real essence of me, and pretty much everything important that I learned as a youngster, that’s my mom.
She’s the one who made sure I never went through a day of my life doubting that somebody loved me or doubting that somebody was proud of me.
Her values form the basis for mine, most of them drilled into me with time-worn sayings such as “Honesty is the best policy” and “Can’t never did anything.”
It was mom who taught me to read from the headlines in the newspaper, and look what that started.
I don’t know that I ever expressed any of that to her just that way, maybe because it hadn’t clarified itself in my mind.
Oh, I thanked her plenty and always told her I loved her, but I was hesitant to write about her. I once wrote a column about her corny sayings for Mother’s Day, and even though I’d say it still holds up today as a heartfelt tribute, I don’t think she liked it. She thought it oversimplified who she was.
Mom could be hard to please like that, or easy to please — with just one good story to share about her grandchildren.
As proud as mom was of us, she always liked to leave room for us to make her a little more proud, which was her way of pushing us to achieve.
A week ago Thursday I moved up my plans to head down to Peoria to take my turn looking after her. My idea was to get into town and write a column about her dying, making the points about her influence of me, then read it to her.
But she suddenly took a turn for the worse, and the weather turned a three-hour drive into a six-hour drive. It was all I could do to get there before she took her last breath.
I always called my mom on Sundays to exchange family news. That’s no longer possible. I could never have told her I was a momma’s boy, which is why I’m telling you.
By Mark Brown
Example 6: Son’s Eulogy For His Mother
Welcome to all of you. I am Kevin Kaiser and I’ve been offered the opportunity to speak for a few minutes about my mother, whose life we are celebrating here today together. I realized as I set about this task, that a son sees his mother in a different context than those of you who are lifelong friends or professional colleagues. It is even difficult to speak on behalf of my siblings but I will try to represent the shared feelings of love, devotion and admiration we all felt towards our mother.
My mother would be very pleased and honored to see that you all could make it here this morning to share in this with us, as it was her family and friends who were the most important focus of her life. It was also your continued support, well wishes and prayers which were so valuable to her in her final weeks.
In addition to your presence here, we have received many, many expressions of condolence from among the thousands of people my mother touched over the years. Their and your words match those that echo in my head with examples of her tireless and determined support of her friends and family throughout her life., The words that come to mind include: independence, courage, generosity, sensitivity, integrity, dignity, whimsy, and indeed the word ‘life’ itself – for few people I have ever known, lived life as fully or as well as my mother did.
I could talk for hours and provide numerous examples demonstrating her remarkable independence, including, of course, her desire to live alone in the woods for so many years. Her decisions to run for MPP, to restart her life in her mid-30s and get into and complete law school as a single mother of four high-maintenance children were further evidence not only of her independence and determination, but also of her courage and willingness to tackle any challenge.
Her generosity with her time, her energy, her advice, and in so many other ways provided invaluable support to a remarkable number of people. Over the years, and over the past few days, I’ve heard many stories of the friends, relatives, neighbors, clients and even strangers to whom my mother provided help and support in their times of need. One recent example, earlier this Spring a young woman came to my mother’s attention as she is working on a Masters degree and whose thesis includes studying the turtles in the area. “Would you like to borrow a canoe for the summer?” my mother offered, “There are two of them down by my shore”. The woman accepted the offer gladly. Such acts of spontaneous generosity were typical of my mother. Unfortunately, in an act equally typical of my mother, the canoe she lent was actually my brother Ted’s, a fact which escaped her at the time.
Among the other words which come to mind to describe her character, her uncompromising integrity and honesty have proven to be among the most important guides for myself in my professional and personal life. Whenever I face a situation in which I am unsure about which direction to take, I have always had a tool to guide me in the form of a simple question: – “Would I be willing to tell my mother what I have done if I choose this path?” (In truth of course, her adventurous nature wouldn’t necessarily result in the most prudent or sensible path being chosen.) Life forces us all into positions of compromise and presents challenges to our honesty and our integrity, and I observed my mother rise and meet those challenges one after the other throughout my life with courage and a toughness and a sense of right and wrong which was awe inspiring. It was her values and her commitment to community and people which led her into politics and then law and which kept her involved in local politics and community service in all respects to the very last months of her life.
Her sense of dignity was never so tested nor so well demonstrated as in the final weeks and days of her life. Even with a body riddled with cancer she still was not asking for the normal allotment of painkillers as she wished to maintain full control of her faculties and to preserve her lucidity and maximize her ability to interact with the family and friends showing up to visit. I struggle to imagine myself being able to meet death with even 1/10th the dignity that I observed in my mother over the past weeks and which swelled me with pride each minute that I spent with her.
Finally, and perhaps the key to her happiness, was her whimsical approach to life. She was always in pursuit of another experience, a little more fun or a new adventure. It must be said that her appreciation for red wine didn’t exactly hurt her whimsical nature. Her belief in fairies, her decisions at nearly 60 years old to take up roller blading or try skiing again after a 20 year absence, and her delight in her new bright red kitchen, reflected the child who still lived and breathed within my mother. To her last day, she was always able to crack a joke and even more able to laugh at herself in ways which had so many of us laughing in stitches so much of the time we were around her.
Her final months were focused on designing, building and moving into her new house. She moved in a week ago today and was so happy to be in her dream home in her final days. We are so grateful to all of those who helped make it possible: building, cleaning, packing and moving. Thank you so much for your efforts. Those of you who provided support throughout her life and in her final days are too numerous to mention but I would like to especially thank Karen O’Connor who was a rock of support from mother’s diagnosis through the preparations of the funeral today and to mother’s dear friend Loretta MacKenzie who came to spend time with her friend and wound up as her 24-7 homecare support in Mother’s final weeks.
My mother pursued a lifelong effort to build family connections and explore our genealogical roots. She came to know so many people and has given us all an extraordinary collection of family knowledge. We are all the product of our parents, grandparents and ancestors and while I cannot speak of the more distant past, nor of my mother’s mother who died the year I was born, I can say that, like her father before her, my mother had a character of the highest caliber who represented sensitivity and consideration towards all people, near and far, as well as extraordinary generosity and an unparalleled level of community and family involvement and dedication. It is with extreme sadness that within the past year we have had to say good-bye to, among others, John Laughland, my mother’s brother Paul and now my mother, each of whose lives, professionally and personally, reflected an embodiment of these values worthy of our deepest admiration and respect.
As a parent and friend, my mother had an extraordinary ability to make each of us feel stronger and more confident in our own identity, giving us our own sense of independence and mental toughness which, speaking for myself, has been such an asset in so many ways in my life. She will live in our memories and our hearts forever and I am will always be extremely proud to call myself the son of Mary Francis O’Connor Kaiser.
By Kevin Kaiser
Eulogy Examples: Husband
Example 1: Wife’s Eulogy For Her Husband
My husband was such a wonderful man. I’m not sure I can really express just how much I will miss him.
Not only was he a wonderful husband, but a wonderful father, grandfather, best friend, colleague … and so much more.
Paul’s ability to make everyone feel comfortable, secure and loved were his greatest strengths.
It has been nearly 40 years since we were first married and I look back over those years with so much happiness.
I remember the first time I saw him—I looked over the room at the dance hall on a Saturday night and saw this handsome young man.
I was too shy initially to even hold his eye contact, but I did look out for him every Saturday night. Eventually he introduced himself to me; we danced, we laughed and we fell in love.
Paul was always such a gentleman—well mannered and polite, but always quick with a witty remark.
His joviality and good nature attracted people the moment he walked in the room, and no one could forget his raucous and contagious laugh.
Born and bred in Brisbane, Paul always had a passion for the ocean.
In our early life together, we would jump in the caravan and spend weekends on the coast together.
I remember the first fish he caught. Paul had been out all day after promising that he would bring home dinner that night.
It was getting late and I started to worry, but the look on his face when he marched back and presented the catch of the day was priceless.
His face was glowing and he was grinning from ear to ear, despite the fact that it was dark and he was shivering with cold.
When we had each of our children—Jesse, Markus and James—he was delighted.
Paul was a wonderful father to them and I would watch him take them to Sunday school and show them off to all the other parents.
As they became teenagers, I saw how they always went to him for advice—even if they did run off and do the opposite, as teenagers do.
He was always there to pick up the pieces and sort things out. They respected and loved him deeply.
Paul was a hard working and giving man. Not only was he committed to his job—working long hours that would drive me insane—he was also committed to giving back to the community.
When Paul wasn’t at work—or being taxi driver for the kids—he would be attending Lions Club or Rotary meetings or fundraising activities.
He always encouraged us be involved in life—he bought out the best in us all.
He would always say, ‘You can’t rest on your laurels, Margaret. You must keep forging ahead and make the best of everything”.
He was my soul mate and my inspiration—my steadfast rock that helped me through thick and thin.
Paul supported and loved us all, and was always there to help navigate through life’s challenges.
Paul may be in heaven now, but I know he is looking down at us with a big smile on his face saying, “Forge ahead—make the best of life—and I’ll see you soon. We have work to do up here, too.”
Goodbye, my dear, sweet husband, and God bless.
Example 2: Matthew’s Eulogy For His Husband, Garth
In the smash hit movie, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, a beloved and larger-than-life character—Garth—unexpectedly passes away from a heart attack.
Garth’s life partner and best friend—Matthew—reads a beautiful and touching eulogy and poem at his funeral:
Eulogy’s Full Text
Gareth used to prefer funerals to weddings.
He said it was easier to get enthusiastic about a ceremony one had an outside chance of eventually being involved in.
In order to prepare this speech, I rang a few people to get a general picture of how Gareth was regarded by those who met him.
‘Fat’ seems to have been a word people most connected with him. ‘Terribly rude’ also rang a lot of bells.
So ‘very fat’ and ‘very rude’ seems to have been the stranger’s viewpoint.
But some of you have rung me and let me know that you loved him, which I know he would have been thrilled to hear.
You remember his fabulous hospitality, his strange experimental cooking. The recipe for duck á la banana fortunately goes with him to his grave.
Most of all, you tell me of his enormous capacity for joy. And, when joyful, for highly vocal drunkenness.
I hope joyful is how you will remember him.
Not stuck in a box in a church.
Pick your favourite of his waistcoats and remember him that way.
The most splendid, replete, big-hearted—weak-hearted, as it turned out—and jolly bugger most of us ever met.
As for me, you may ask how I will remember him.
What I thought of him.
Unfortunately, there I run out of words.
Forgive me if I turn from my own feelings to the words of another splendid bugger, WH Auden.
This is actually what I want to say:
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let the aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He ls Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West.
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: Put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Eulogy Examples: Wife
Example 1: Husband’s Eulogy For His Wife
Susan was a remarkable woman who always held her head high and gave endlessly to those around her.
Born in Cowra NSW in 1949, Susan’s father George was an army officer, and her mother Marie, a nurse.
Susan had an interesting upbringing—born into a family with a long history of military service.
Much of her early childhood was spent moving around with her family from one posting to another, and she saw much of Australia as a young girl.
It was only by chance that first I met Susan a couple of weeks before they were due to be posted to Canberra.
The moment I set eyes on her, I knew she was the one for me. She was the loveliest woman I had ever seen and reminded me of Greta Garbo from one of the old movies—her poise, her grace and her beauty.
Our courtship was difficult as we had to overcome distance, but I was determined to make her my wife.
Susan and I came from different backgrounds: I was brought up in the city and had never ventured out into the country, while Susan had grown up with a military background, and had travelled to many places by the time she was 18.
But that didn’t worry us—we complimented each other perfectly and got on like a house on fire.
After getting permission from her father, I proposed, she said yes (eventually)—and I was the happiest man alive.
I remember how beautiful she looked walking down the isle at our Catholic church.
Her big brown eyes and her cheeks flushed with excitement, her father beside her looking as proud as punch.
It was only later that I found Susan shared my love of the old black and whites and when we were first married, spent many evenings watching and reciting lines from movies such as Casablanca and Camille, much to my delight.
Susan followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a nurse.
It was a calling that she said she always had as a little girl, influenced by both her mother’s vocation, and her father’s and grandfather’s stories of war time and the Great Depression.
Her want to help and care for others was the very essence of the Susan I knew.
When we had Jenny, Susan was thrilled—we felt blessed. She had longed to have a child of her own, but it had taken longer that we had hoped.
Jenny was the apple of her eye, and the two formed a strong bond.
Susan was tough but fair and when Susan got older, the two of them formed a special friendship that never faltered over the years.
In her last years, her pride was her four-year-old grandson, Roger.
When Susan fell ill, we were all devastated. She was always fit and strong, and on the ball.
She had so much to live for and so much love to give. She never liked any fuss being made of her, and would chastise us if we—as she would like to say—“flapped”—around her too much.
She was so used to caring for others that she couldn’t be doing with any fuss for her.
Susan, my beautiful, sweet, darling wife, may you be at peace, and God bless you.
Example 2: Husband’s Eulogy For His Wife
I want to start off by thanking everyone for being here today.
I feel my wife would tell me I was being rude if I didn’t. She was very hospitable that way and wanted to make sure I minded my manners.
That was my Gracie, always keeping me in line with her no nonsense ways and her unconditional love.
I want to start by saying a few things that speak to my wife’s character. She was kind, smart, loving, and compassionate; pretty much all the good words I can think of apply to my wife.
She was everything to me, and I miss her terribly. She knows that I loved her, but I want to express to all of you how much I loved her.
Grace was a good hearted person who truly loved helping others. That is why she put in decades as a nurse taking care of people who couldn’t take care of themselves.
Somehow in all that work and daily chaos she found time to be an amazing mother to our three children and the best wife a man could ask for.
She rarely did things for herself wanting to make sure her family was happy and healthy. She never complained about working to help me support us, she was happiest when she was working.
I am a broken man, and my better half is gone, but I can see her in the faces of my children and grandchildren, and that gives me a little comfort.
They were all so important to her, and her face would light up whenever she would see them or talk to them on the phone.
She was beautiful both inside and out, and when she smiled at me I felt alive.
I was truly blessed to have a wife who loved me and that I loved so much it hurt.
I don’t know how I am going to make it without her, but I know she is up there telling me to suck it up.
I am trying to honey, but it is hard without you here to keep me on track.
I know that everyone here loved her and is going to miss her sweet face as much as I do.
My wife was very talented. I have never met someone who could play the piano and sing as beautiful as she could, I will miss her singing and hearing her say, “Good morning dear.”
I think that she is still here with all of us.
Her family, children, and grandchildren were her life. She would do anything for her family. We all loved her dearly and there is a great deal of loss felt within those of us gathered today.
My Grace was strong until the end never losing her faith even on some of the most painful days.
I have lost the mother to my children, my wife and support system, and most of all my best friend.
I’ll see you soon sweetheart.
Eulogy Examples: Son
Example 1: Elizabeth Gini’s Eulogy For Her Son, Sawyer Sweeten
Sawyer Sweeten was an American child actor. He was best known for playing Geoffrey Barone on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.
On April 23, 2015, Sawyer tragically committed suicide after a battle with depression. On May 3, just over a week after his death, Sawyer’s family and friends gathered to say their final goodbye to the 19 year-old they endearingly called Bubs.
According to People magazine’s report, the funeral in Riverside, California was a real celebration of Sawyer’s life. His twin brother, Sullivan, and his stepfather, Jerry Gini, served as pallbearers, along with other family members.
The casket was placed into a hearse that was driven by a motorcycle because, to quote his stepfather, “He loved his Harley-Davidson.”
This family all wore blues and greens, Sawyer’s favourite colours. His twin brother even dyed his hair blue in honour of him.
Because Sawyer really loved cats, his aunt, Ashley Antonissen, wore a shirt with a cat on it. She told the congregation, “Sawyer really loved cats, like, a lot.”
His 16 year old sister, Maysa, called him “my brother, my friend, and more often than not, my father … [and now] my guardian angel.”
But it was Sawyer’s mother, Elizabeth Gini, who gave the moving final eulogy which she addressed directly to her son:
Eulogy’s Full Text
From the moment I knew you were to be born, I was overjoyed, which was only made more joyful when six months later I found you were to be a twin.
My heart was filled with anticipation and love, but in the back of my being there was also fear.
I was fearful of losing you, but I pushed those feelings deep down and found delight in carrying you… I’m grateful for all my memories and every moment we shared. You confided your hope and dreams in me and I encouraged you along the way.
I will miss sending and receiving funny cat videos, your hugs, our talks. But most of all, I’ll miss your little hands holding mine. They were forever printed in my heart.
My physical time with you is over now. So, son, you put those hands that I held for 20 years, one on your baby sister and one in God’s hand, and guide her along this journey until I can hold you both again.
And tell God, ‘Thank you’ for me. And tell him how grateful, lucky and privileged I feel that he chose me to be your mom and I hope I made him proud. And I will help guide those who you left behind until we are called up to be with you.
I hold you with my whole entire heart.
Example 2: Father’s Eulogy For His Son
Standing before you today to farewell our son William is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Words cannot describe the sorrow and loss that I am feeling, but I will try.
William was a wonderful, sweet boy. Even as a baby, he had a calm temperament and as he grew into a little boy, always took things in his stride.
I remember his first day at school—I think I was more nervous than he was.
I held his little hand and walked to the gate thinking that he was about to cry, but William calmly turned to me and said, “This is going to be fun, Daddy… Will there be lots of kids here for me to play with?” I laughed and assured him there would be.
Being the youngest of three, William was always special to his sisters, Michelle and Andrea.
They would dress him up and take him out for walks in the pram—they were just so excited to have a little brother and when he started school, they became fiercely protective of him.
As William grew from a boy into a teenager, I could see the man that he would become—strong, steadfast and assured.
He loved school and loved his sports. Every afternoon after school, he would race down to the oval to kick the ball around with his mates.
When he became captain of the soccer team, we were so proud. He was always competitive, but humble. It was such an endearing quality.
William and I had some wonderful times together.
After the girls had left home to go to university, the two of us would go camping together at the weekends. William loved camping—he loved the adventure and simplicity of it.
After a day of fishing and swimming, we would set up camp and spend hours talking about life.
It was those conversations that I will never forget. I was watching a teenager grow into a young man—a young man with so much enthusiasm and with so many plans for the future.
Recently, all he talked about was the overseas trip he had planned with his mates after they finished their [schooling].
He couldn’t wait to go over to Asia to have what he called “his amazing Asian adventure”.
But he also looked forward to studying to become a teacher—a vocation that was a perfect choice for William as he was a gentle soul, unwavering in his patience, and with a real desire to help others.
William was adored by his friends and family and it is testament to him how many of you are here today to farewell our boy.
Not only was he a loving son and brother, he was a kind and giving friend. Someone who was always a pleasure to be around.
To have lost William is heartbreaking—it has come as such a shock to us all. His life was far too brief.
My family wishes to express our heartfelt thanks to all those who have given their support, compassion and love throughout this very difficult time.
I know in my heart that he would not want us to grieving for too long. Rather, William would want us all to remember the good times we all shared with him.
Goodbye, my son. You will live in our hearts forever.
Eulogy Examples: Daughter
Example 1: Mother’s Eulogy For Her Daughter
Our dear daughter has slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God. She leaves a huge emptiness in the hearts of all of us who loved her, many who were her friends, and even more who just had a glimmer of her through our family.
It’s cliché, but Brianna was truly beautiful inside and out. You could feel her energy when she was near.
She was 17, bubbly, outgoing, vivacious, funny, silly at times and just simply like no other. She wanted to try all things new and was not afraid. Brianna enjoyed life and was eager to taste all that it offered.
We planned to go to Paris, as part of her Make a Wish. She wanted to see Alaska and she would have loved to experience Japan. She liked almost anything that had an Asian flair, and loved sushi.
While she was in the hospital, we made plans for the family to go back and visit Memphis to enjoy her favorite sushi restaurant.
Also, she wanted to bask in the sun while sitting in the lovely backyard of our dear friends and neighbors Alissa and Steve.
I’m telling you these things because some of you only knew Brianna through me and didn’t get a chance to be impressed by her, like so many were upon first introduction.
Those of you who did know her, realize that we will miss her laugh, her funny little squeals, and the sparkle in her big blue eyes.
She had a wide taste in music from Johnny Cash to Green Day. She loved to dance and to to concerts. Brianna’s love of art varied from large scale stencils and street art to abstract and the masters.
Her room is a collection of Hello Kitty, quirky signs, doodles from friends and her own hand and different little things she found interesting.
She had a knack with her camera and would take candid pictures of friends and even herself. She made so many, many friends in her short life.
Brianna really had it all. She was beautiful and smart and warm and caring.
She would have been deciding this summer if she were going to attend an art school in New York and follow her passion of creating hand crafts, sewn bags, stenciled clothes, journaling or painting.
Or, if she would take the more practical approach and head to MIT and follow her love of math and chemistry.
She and John shared a close father/daughter relationship.
They had similar personalities looking for adventure and a willingness to move to new cities and see the world.
Brianna would turn to him for advice about school, college choices and career. He was the champion of her dreams. When she was worried, she’d go to him and he’d calm her fears, ending their conversation with a hug and “I love you baby.”
Brianna loved her brother Trevor immensely. She shared a special bond with him that only comes from being close siblings and close friends.
You would hear them talking together in one of their rooms, or exchanging knowing glances and laughing about something, and relying on one another when alone.
Every night they told each other I love you before going to bed.
Brianna and I shared a closeness that only a mother and daughter can. We laughed together and cried. She loved to create almost anything and I indulged her.
We’d go shopping and she’d find yet another purse to bring home and add to her growing collection.
She began to take more of an interest in vintage clothing and antique items, and we’d go to the antique market or thrift shops together looking for unique treasures.
I would often turn to her for an opinion on a piece of art I was creating.
Brianna and her friends Chelsea and Nina would come over and hang out in my studio and make jewelry, painted shirts, altered tees and whatever their hearts desired.
Or, they’d be in the kitchen cooking up a new recipe Brianna found and wanted to try.
You’d hear them all giggling and sharing stories. Brianna would always make more to share with the rest of the family. She was so considerate.
Most importantly, Brianna was brave, courageous and strong.
In the hospital, she made plans to start a garden and begin a regular exercise program when she was well.
She crocheted a frosted cupcake and donut with beaded sprinkles, and she met the winner of last year’s Suvivior series.
The doctors, nurses and other care professionals were touched by her sweetness and fortitude. And they saw her willingness to do what had to be done to get well, often called her a “trooper.” Really, she was a warrior.
She lived only a short 8 months after her diagnosis of MDS, and of those four were in the hospital.
She fought with all her might after undergoing a bone marrow transplant and getting a lung infection in February.
I stayed with her sleeping in the room until two months ago, when Brianna was admitted to the intensive care unit with pneumonia. She was unconscious for almost the entire time.
I held her hand often in the hospital and stroked her brow, massaged her feet, encouraged her, talked to her and told her I loved her.
The cruel part is that she was so close.
Just a week and a half ago, she was communicating with me and the nurses picking music to play and pointing.
Then, last Tuesday her heart temporarily stopped from bleeding in the lung. By Thursday, it was evident she would not recover and on Friday I held her hand, pressed it to my face and kissed her for the last time.
I want her near me, to feel her cheek pressed against mine and her arms wrapped around me squeezing me like she did, and say “Mom, I love you. I’m so glad you’re my mom.”
Or when she hugged John and I and said “I’m so glad you’re my parents.” We strove to give Brianna roots and wings, we just never thought she’d fly so high, she would soar beyond our reach.
My dearest darling, we will miss you forever and can’t wait for the day when we can be together again to laugh, share, hold each other and say I love you.
Brianna has gone into the light and is now free.
By Iva Wilcox at A Family’s Journey to Health.
Example 2: Mother’s Eulogy For Her Daughter
Thanks for coming! How Chloe would have adored this! All this love and all these people gathered together just for her. Chloe loved the stage; and here she is right at the centre of it.
She’ll be looking down on us and saying… “Oh, no, Hannah it’s Mum! She’s so attention seeking. She’s so embarrassing. Mum will use that awful posh telephone voice, and she’s bound to cry and say something totally lame about me. Hannah, please stop her!
Yes, Chloe sure liked to keep us oldies in check and delighted in telling me and Simon exactly where it was that we were going wrong. How we miss that.
So, firstly, I apologize to both of my daughters that my eulogy will probably do all all of the above.
It will also be woefully inadequate in capturing the spirit of my beautiful, feisty and amazing young daughter.
But I promise that, despite the most savage and intense grief, I will focus upon Chloe’s life. A short life that, thank God, was exceptionally well lived.
Born 25th January 1995, she shot into the world determined to make her presence felt. She was a noisy baby, a tantrum-filled toddler and sometimes a nightmare little girl.
In short, she was bursting with life, vitality and passion. She was argumentative, exasperating and totally adorable.
Chloe, Hannah and I were joined in vice-like bond from the very beginning. We absolutely adored each other and, of course, still do.
Chloe’s beauty, charm and independent spirit meant that I was wrapped around her little finger from the very beginning—as were so many others—and she exploited it dreadfully.
She just had a way about her.
I’m sorry Mr Hordley—I know that I ought to have helped you to mould Chloe into a diligent student. She was undeniably bright and full of potential; but I wasn’t much of a disciplinarian.
I indulged both of my daughters from the start, but I hope it was that blanket of love and certainty that helped give Chloe the spirit, the resilience and the courage to carry on living—and really living in a quite spectacular way—for the three years of her illness.
Deep down she probably knew that her lifespan was limited, but in her words: “Why go there?”
By 15, Chloe had blossomed into a beautiful young woman—leggy, with dark tumbling curls and huge green eyes. The world was at her feet; but little did we know that all hell was breaking loose inside her body.
In February 2010 Chloe was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer that tends to affect tall adolescent boys and slim willowy girls.
The horrible irony is that her sought-after body shape, made her susceptible to Ewing’s Sarcoma.
We were brought down by a chance in a million; a lottery win in reverse. There is no reason for this illness, no genetic links—just pure bad luck.
So how did she respond? Typically, she told me to “man up” as she set about identifying all the “hot boys” on the cancer ward.
And there were many beautiful boys—two of them I’m so happy to say are here today.
Strangely, we had some good times on that ward and bonded as part of an exclusive club—yet a club that no sane person would willingly apply to join.
There were some very dark times to come; and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t at times drift into despair.
But Chloe would always bounce back and quickly came to deal with her treatments in the same breazy, cheerful manner—planning it carefully around drama lessons, parties and the commandeering of Hannah’s ID card to facilitate Chloe’s illegal entry into SHOOSH nightclub in Croydon.
Sterile surgical gloves that the NHS funded to assist Chloe’s cancer treatments, were instead used for fake tan applications.
In full make-up and looking totally wonderful, Chloe would stick her arm out as the nurses pumped blood out or more medicines in.
She didn’t do pain, she wasn’t squeamish and the nurses would have barely removed the last needle from her arm and she’d be up and off out with her friends into Croydon until 3 or 4 in the morning.
Literally nothing would stop her. I am so proud of that spirit.
I can barely hold back my tears when I think of how her dearest friends surrounded her with a cloak of love, fun and comfort.
When Chloe was too ill to go out they’d all stay in with her; when Chloe was better: off out they all went. Quite a big deal for girls of 15 and 16 when the world is so irresistibly exciting.
Chloe packed a lifetime of fun into those three years, because she had such good friends.
You were so young, you are so young, but you dealt with a very poorly friend with a maturity way beyond your years.
I suspect you all saw me as a “soft touch” as my eyes would light up as much as yours as I saw the beauty of you all heading off somewhere great and exciting.
I think I got as much out of watching this as you did going.
Lifts, the odd drink, opening the front door at 6am in the morning. No problem. They were some of my happiest times watching my daughter have such fun, with such wonderful young people, and knowing that it all probably wouldn’t last.
There was a real intensity for me in those moments—I really can’t thank all her friends enough.
On Mother’s Day just gone, that fell just a few days after Chloe’s death, Sarah, Olivia, Rosie and Sophia sent me a card from my “adopted daughters”.
I broke down in tears upon opening this card. I’ve done a lot of crying over the past few years but that card really got to me.
I so miss the way you filled out house with the vitality of your young lives.
I have no worries that you’ll be back to tell us about your fantastic careers, boyfriends and, of course, you know how much I love babies.
Chloe was just too important to us all and we all shared some really intense memories. I hope that in time these memories hurt less and inspire more.
Chloe didn’t see her dearest friends in the last few weeks of her life; that was only because she wanted you to remember her with a big smile, high heels and a far too short a skirt.
The Chloe you and we all loved. She spent her final days with me, Hannah, Roman, Simon and Ralph.
She gave us many gifts in those last few precious days—including telling me that I looked 10 years younger—very unlike Chloe and so I suspect that ‘the morphine was speaking’ when she said that.
Chloe didn’t do cancer and didn’t do depression either.
As we neared the end we snuggled up in her room and watched those dreadful Orange County Housewives programmes and wonderful Mike Leigh films.
She was poorly at times, but not that often, we ate fish and chips, still applied makeup and fake tan , laughed lots and little Roman would be bouncing around in the middle of it all.
Zoe we knew you were there with us in Germany and there was a huge comfort in knowing that you we could have called anytime and you would be there.
Rosemary and Chloe Ridgeway you were there with us every step of the way and Chloe knew that you loved her so much—you were like an extra Mum and an extra sister.
Jacob your sister loved you very much and she knew how much you wanted to see her. She just couldn’t—but she did know.
Chloe’s spirit in the face of such adversity was startling and amazing.
My daughter taught me to seize and live every minute don’t sweat the small stuff and accept when you can’t change things. She really is my inspiration.
She took herself off Facebook when she couldn’t join in anymore and then buried herself right in the love of her family. And how we loved that.
It was a privilege to care for her, and she showed such skill in protecting herself from emotional harm. Amazingly, most days she was happy; despite everything.
Some of Chloe’s treatment was horrific and involved long painful stays in hospital. But she still managed to put cancer “in a small box in the corner of her mind”.
She’d be horrified if I ever suggested that she go on a trip with other children with cancer; but would occassionally “play the cancer card” when the benefits were too obvious to resist:
- like emotionally blackmailing us into buying her a puppy – we lost that fight pretty quickly
- getting to meet Prince William and to advise Catherine on false eyelash application methods
- persuading Paul Clark, the CEO of Penta Consulting to employ her at £10 an hour – effectively Penta transferring cash to Zara and Topshop, but via Chloe Drury’s bank account
- and persuading me to let her go out clubbing the night before her Science GCSE exam! Oops! I forgot to tell Simon about that one!! Never mind!
Chloe died as she lived—complaining little and trying to see the positive in the reduced landscape of her life.
I’ve lost my best friend and half of my hopes and dreams (Hannah you have the other half).
My family and I will never get over this—we don’t want to get over it. Our challenge is to accept her death into the narrative of our lives without destroying anything else with our grief.
But at the same time, our story has been so life-affirming and we have been surrounded by the most wonderful love and support from a huge range of friends and family.
You have held me up when I had no defences left and I know that you will continue to do so. There are far too many to thank here and now; but you know who you are.
My husband Simon and my daughter Hannah have been absolute rocks. And baby Roman a ray of sunshine to us all.
Hannah, we are so proud the way you’ve looked after your sister and we are most especially sad that we couldn’t save her for you. We did try very very hard.
There is one person I do want to mention—David Thomas—who lost his son Daniel, a Classics scholar at Oxford, not long before Chloe died and to the same illness, Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Despite this you have been a constant source of comfort to me—and sometimes a partner in crime as we fought the various ludicrous systems that prevented our children getting the right treatments at the right time.
One doctor once remarked that our consultant had the worst of luck when he had a lawyer and a journalist joining forces against him. Oh well.
Chloe’s care at the end of her life was amazingly well managed. The palliative care team at the Marsden and our wonderful community nurses settled into our eccentric little world and we all seemed to have a jolly good time most of the times.
Their support was so fantastic that even my emotionally stunted husband Simon finds it impossible to speak of them, even now, without starting to cry
I read the other day that there are worse emotions to have to live with than sadness, however vast and deep that sadness might be, it can be uplifting, invigorating, strengthening and above all a powerful reminder of how much Chloe matters; and always will.
My family and I will work hard to ensure we turn our current debilitating grief over her loss into something positive and worthwhile.
Outside our home, the care offered for teenagers with a cancer like Chloe isn’t good enough. Access to new treatments is sporadic and filled with many unnecessary obstacles.
Chloe was treated on a seriously outdated protocol and this needs to change.
Donations today are to the wonderful Teenage Cancer Trust.
We’re pleased that Simon Davis, Chief Executive of the Teenage Cancer Trust is with us today. You’ll notice that he has his suits tailored with extra deep pockets: so however many of you wish to force donation cheques upon him today, he will still have room to carry them all away.
Chloe was my inspiration and I’m determined to do something good in her name.
Chloe once said to me, with a smile and with her usual searing honesty: “Mum I’ve caused you so much trouble, I bet you wish I’d never been born.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If, before you were born, Chloe, I could have gone to Heaven, and seen all the beautiful souls, I still would have chosen you.
If somebody would have warned me “this soul will one day need extra care” I still would have chosen you.
If they had said, ‘this soul would make me question the depth of my faith” I still would have chosen you.
If they would have told me “this soul would make tears flow from my eyes, that would overflow a river”, I still would have chosen you.
If they would have told me “Chloe’s time here on earth would be short” I still would have chosen you.
So, to answer you …
“Yes, Chloe, you’ve certainly caused us lots of trouble. But just give me the chance and I’d do it all over again like a shot. I am absolutely honoured to be your Mother and I love you with all my heart.”
By Deborah Binner at A Child of Mine.
Eulogy Examples: Baby and Young Child
Example 1: Mother’s Eulogy For Her Still Born Baby
Sybella was born on the 24th of April, after a very long and anxious eight months. She was greatly longed for by our entire family.
Everyone here knows that conceiving Sybella was difficult, and when we finally learned we were expecting her, Kelvin and I were ecstatic.
Jack was excited about his new sister that was “spending time growing bigger so that she could come and play with him.” Our family was complete.
The pregnancy was difficult. I was very sick for 5 months. I was enormous.
Sybella had some mild kidney problems that we were assured were of small consequence, but we worried for her all the same.
Despite all these difficulties, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I would go through those 34 weeks again and again for my little girl.
I hope that while she was living and growing in me that she felt safe and warm and loved.
I am sure she heard Jack speak to her, and her daddy too.
She never kicked very hard, and I tell myself it was she was such a gentle soul, relaxed and calm.
I hope she knows I looked after her as best as I could while I was growing her. Well, I tried to. I just wanted her to be happy and healthy and loved and cherished.
Sybella’s birth was the most beautiful event of my life. Despite knowing she would be stillborn, I felt I needed to honour her with a natural birth … although the thought terrified me.
Labour began at 12pm. I was told that it could take days. But I knew she would be born before the sun went down. I knew that together, Sybella and I would embrace the challenge of birth and death on the same day, and in this respect, my body did not fail us.
Our daughter was born asleep at 4.01pm. I held her immediately. She was perfect. Perfect and beautiful and peaceful. She should not have died. This was an incredibly bittersweet time.
Being acutely aware that my daughter was not alive, the peace and serenity in the room was palpable. It was incredibly organic to be lying there with my newborn daughter.
I am sure her spirit was still there and she didn’t leave until we had been given the chance to meet face to face.
Until she got to have a cuddle and a talk with her mummy. Until her mummy got to give her her first and last bath. Until we had finished marveling at our beautiful creation.
Sybella will always be my second child. As of the 24th of April at 4.01pm, I have two children. Jack and Sybella.
If we add to our family, another child will be our third child. Our other children will be told about Sybella. Her birthday will be celebrated every year. We will honour her at Christmas.
I speak to her like she is here and Jack and I say goodnight to her every night and we tell her we love her.
I open the curtains in her room because she needs fresh air and sunlight.
I kiss her blanket that she was wrapped in after birth every night. I worry that she is warm and safe and protected, because that’s what mothers worry about.
Despite the pain and heartache that we feel, I feel lucky. Sybella chose to come to us.
She will always be part of our family. I am privileged to be Sybella’s mother.
I am honoured to have carried her, felt her move, birthed her and held her.
She was born to ME. For someone who never took a breath, the number of lives that she has touched is remarkable. Sybella, at zero days old, has taught me more than I have learned in 29 years.
She has shown me more about life and love, serenity and peace than I ever knew. She had a purpose, I am sure.
And she will be preserved as a perfect, innocent heart forever.
Sybella won’t grow up like other children will grow up. She won’t face the hardships of this world. She won’t experience disappointment or sadness nor will she ever cause us disappointment or sadness.
Sybella is a special soul. Her little life will be a memory of nothing but love, innocence and purity.
Stillborn, but STILL born. We see her with the butterflies.
Simply, we love her. We always did. We always will.
By Steph at Born Still.
Example 3: Mother’s Eulogy For Her Young Daughter
My darling little girl Louise! I cannot believe that she has been taken away from us after only six years on this earth.
It is much too short a time, but they have been the most precious.
When you were born, you were so tiny—I couldn’t believe my eyes.
You had a shock of black hair and a cheeky face. You quickly gained weight, though, and after a couple of days in the hospital I was allowed to take you home.
We had been told that you had a congenital heart condition, but we were positive that you would still live a long and happy life.
We always focused on our time together and treasured every moment.
From the time she was a little girl, Louise brought joy and laughter into our lives and the lives of others.
When she was little, I called her my ‘cheeky monkey’. As soon as our backs were turned, she was up to something.
But you couldn’t get angry with her for too long as she would always give you one of those cheeky grins and say, “Oh Mummy, I’m sorry”.
Louise grew into a charming little girl who was outgoing and affectionate.
She absolutely adored school and made lots of friends. She loved her teachers and would race home from school every afternoon with stories about what Mrs McNamara or Mr Jones had taught her in class.
One of Louise’s greatest pleasures was dancing. The moment she heard music she would be up, clapping her hands with glee.
I remember taking her to the mall one day to do some shopping. I turned around and she was gone. Naturally, I was panic stricken and raced around everywhere looking for her.
I found her a few minutes later in the music section of the store, performing a dance routine she had learnt at school—much to the amusement of the staff.
We enrolled her in dance school and she flourished. I will never forget the look on her face after her first dance class—a look of enthusiasm and pure excitement that only a child can give. I was so excited for her.
When Louise was five, she had to undergo surgery.
It seemed successful and after months of rest, Louise appeared to be on the road to recovery. She found it hard staying at home and desperately wanted to go back to school and dancing.
When she was feeling well enough, we brought home school work for her to do, which she devoured with such enthusiasm.
Louise’s last year on this earth was difficult. It is such a terrible thing to see your child struggle with illness and not be able to do anything to make her well and whole again.
It is with so much sadness that I am here today to farewell our only child, Louise.
She was a lovely and vibrant daughter who has been taken away from us much too early. But the memory of Louise will live on in us forever. We were so proud of her and know that she is in peace.
Goodbye, my precious girl—I know you are up in heaven now, waving down to us with cheeky grin on your beautiful face.
Eulogy Examples: Brother
Example 1: Sister’s Eulogy For Her Brother
Published romantic fiction author—Kathryn Barrett—was asked to write the eulogy for her brother Walter.
As she explains in her personal blog, it was natural for her to write the eulogy given her prowess with a pen.
She says: “It was a no-brainer that I would write a eulogy for my brother. I am the writer in the family, and these last two weeks my writer’s mind has been organizing my thoughts into what passes for a eulogy as if by second nature. It’s how I deal.
“I hesitated to post such a personal and lengthy post here, but then I realized my brother would have gotten a huge kick out of having his sister write about him.
“I was touched by how many people told me how he’d bragged about his sister the writer … I just wish I’d given him more to be proud of sooner.
“And that is perhaps the lesson of his life. Don’t hesitate to take a risk, because one day it may be too late. Regrets suck.”
Barrett adds that she has initialized the names of loved one mentioned in the eulogy in order to protect their privacy.
Here is her moving eulogy to her brother, Walter.
Eulogy’s Full Text
When asked about my brother Walter, I used to describe him by saying, “Children and dogs love him.”
And I think that’s about the finest thing that can be said about anyone. Because dogs know—they have a sixth sense about who can be trusted. And children feel—they feel in their heart who loves them, and recognize a kindred spirit.
I have a vivid memory of Walter, about 13 or 14, swinging some of the younger neighborhood kids around in his arms until they squealed with laughter. He was a gentle giant, his stature unusual even for a well-fed suburban adolescent, his willingness to play with those many years younger even more unique.
As his little sister, I basked in his popularity—when I wasn’t furious with him over some sibling spat. We had a lot of those, but I only remember him hitting me once. That was because I hid his Led Zeppelin albums. I think everyone would agree I probably deserved it.
I learned early on that my larger-than-life brother was invincible. He could do anything, perform any daredevil trick, and survive.
One of my earliest memories is on the front porch at our house on Poplar Street. I was about four, he was five or six and had just gotten his green banana seat bike. I remember him telling me to watch while he showed me his latest trick—riding with no hands and no feet. It was only a few seconds after his feet had left the pedals and his hands lifted from the steering wheel that the bike crashed to the ground.
My impressionable four-year-old eyes saw blood pouring from him in several places, his body rapidly turning black and blue. He became the monster of my nightmares, as he rose from the wreckage and walked across the yard. I screamed and ran inside for my mother. Of course I cried louder than he did, as was always the case. My big brother wasn’t afraid of much.
Except shots. The kind the doctor gives you. When they took Walter in for his six-year-old vaccinations it took two nurses to hold him down. As I watched him kicking and screaming, I knew there was No. Way I was getting any of that. If my big, strong brother was afraid of that needle, then so was I.
So when it came my turn I informed my mother that I wouldn’t be participating in this school-age ritual. She didn’t press the issue, because frankly, after what she’d been through with Walter, a case of smallpox didn’t sound so bad.
Walter was always testing boundaries, exploring the limits—which was excellent, because then I knew exactly where they were and I made sure I didn’t break the rules.
The only time I was even allowed to enter my big brother’s realm was when [our young aunt] P. came to visit. Then we were the irrepressible Three Musketeers, led by fearless Walter, while P. had all the great ideas. I was happy to tag along, knowing any mischief we got into would be blamed on one of them.
We ran away from home, always coming back in time for supper; made daring midnight escapes over the backyard fence; and played a game we invented called “Guess the Shakespeare quote”. I kid you not; Walter was an expert on Shakespeare before he even got to ninth grade. I told you he had guts: believe me, it takes a lot of courage for a twelve-year-old boy to quote the Bard instead of Jimmy Page.
Walter also played the piano, his skill part inherited talent and part due to the incredible reach of those long hands. He played beautifully, our grandmother MeeMaw, who doubled as our piano teacher, always said. And she wouldn’t have lied, even though, I’m pretty sure, Walter was always her favorite.
But his real talent was baseball. Little League baseball.
Walter was the tallest in the blue uniform of Monroe Brick. He played first base and pitcher, a southpaw who pitched many winning games. And when the chips were down, bases loaded, we could count on Walter to hit the grand slams and bring them all home.
After that incident on the bike, when he turned into a black and blue, blood spurting monster before my very eyes and then miraculously survived with nothing more than a few scrapes and some coveted BandAids, I decided my brother was indestructible.
He could do anything, and with Evel Knievel as his hero, he tried lots of stunts that would have killed any other kid on a banana seat bike. And the bike eventually turned into a mini bike, and then a bigger motorcycle, and then a Trans Am, which he wrecked one day when he fell asleep while driving home after a night shift. He survived that, as well as any number of minor work-related accidents.
He even survived a bad marriage, to his first wife whose name escapes me.
But after that he married a wonderful woman named B., and then he got even luckier: His lovely daughter C. was born. I don’t think there was ever a prouder father. Finally, he had his OWN kid to play with! To roughhouse on the floor with, to carry on his tall, tall shoulders, to view the world with the childlike wonder he never lost.
I think life, then, was just about perfect for Walter.
I still remember the night he called me, to tell me the doctors had found a lump in his chest. They thought it was cancer. But as he described to me this baseball-sized mass, I figured it really must be a baseball. I could not comprehend the idea of life-threatening cancer and my big strong brother in the same sentence. Nope. They’d open him up and find an actual Rawlings baseball.
It was lymphoma instead. A large mass, pressing against his heart. But it didn’t kill him. And he left the hospital with something even more precious: a baby boy. B. had given birth to T. the day after Walter’s surgery. How lucky can one man be? Go into the hospital to have a lump cut out of your chest, and bring home another baby who fills your heart with joy.
It was much later on that his third wife M. called to tell me that Walter had had a heart attack, at just 42. Again, I greeted the news with some skepticism. He’d survived terrible bike accidents, a car accident or two, and cancer. And he survived a heart attack, going back to work eventually on the high rise buildings in Minneapolis he was so proud to have a part in constructing.
Walter was a wonderful stepfather to two children, E. and L. And a great friend to his children’s friends, his friends’ children, anyone who shared his Peter Pan-like love of childish things.
When they say people like to live on the edge, they were describing Walter. Except Walter took that to mean he must live on the edge of a lake. He always lived near a body of water, from the time he was born on Poplar Street, next to the Ouachita River.
Even when we were growing up in a neat suburban neighborhood, we lived near enough to Bayou DeSiard that when he was old enough, Walter would grab his fishing pole and ride his bike to the bayou and spend an afternoon fishing for bream.
When he was about 15, he was fishing in the bayou when he saw a man fall out of his boat. Walter quickly reached over with his pole and helped pull the man to safety. Walter was always lending a hand, to a stranger, to a friend, to his last love, P., who needed him as much as he needed her.
When Walter moved to Minnesota, there were plenty of lakes to choose from, and he lived on several. In the winter, he literally lived ON the frozen lake, ice fishing in his ice house.
Eventually he moved back to Jones, where he was always happiest, next to the lake that eventually took his life.
Walter tempted death, from the time he was a kid on a bike, inventing stunts to impress his little sister, to the many times he drove all night after working a week on a boat on the Intracoastal canal, to the times he hung sheetrock high above the streets of Minneapolis in a fifty story building.
They say those who constantly cheat death are living life to the fullest. Perhaps it’s the lack of fear that opens up one’s world, allows one to take risks that constrain lesser mortals. Walter did live a full life, despite his too soon death. He loved and embraced those around him, with those long arms and with his fearless heart.
Those of us who knew him, who loved him, who got angry with him, who worshiped him when he hit those grand slam home runs—we’ll miss the boy, and the man he turned out to be. We’ll miss the gentle father, who cradled his babies against his hard chest while they slept, who taught his son to throw a baseball, who taught his daughter to ride a bike.
We’ll miss the friend, who was always quick with a funny line, who was always eager to go off on another adventure, who fought with us and loved us with equal passion.
We’ll miss the brother, the son, the boy who tested his limits, who brought home the trophies, who befriended and defended the neighborhood dogs and children.
We’ll mourn the man who’s gone, whom we lost so tragically, but we’ll remember him, and remember that above all, he would want us to remember him as he lived, on the edge of a lake and on the fearless edge of what was possible.
I’d like to read a poem, by Joyce Grenfell:
If I should die before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice,
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must
Parting is hell.
But life goes on.
So sing as well.
Example 2: Ted Kennedy’s Eulogy For His Brother, Robert F. Kennedy
After Robert F. Kennedy was tragically assassinated on June 6, 1968, a public memorial service was held so that the nation could collectively mourn this great loss.
Below is the moving eulogy penned and given by his brother, Ted Kennedy, as he was the closest to Robert among those in the Kennedy family.
Some of the moving lines that Ted wrote about his brother included:
- “He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He will always be by our side.”
- “Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and he lived it intensely.”
Eulogy’s Full Text
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Mr. President:
On behalf of Mrs. Kennedy, her children, the parents and sisters of Robert Kennedy, I want to express what we feel to those who mourn with us today in this Cathedral and around the world.
We loved him as a brother, and as a father, and as a son. From his parents, and from his older brothers and sisters—Joe and Kathleen and Jack—he received an inspiration which he passed on to all of us.
He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He will always be by our side.
Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and he lived it intensely.
A few years back, Robert Kennedy wrote some words about his own father which expresses the way we in his family felt about him. He said of what his father meant to him, and I quote:
‘What it really all adds up to is love—not love as it is described with such facility in popular magazines, but the kind of love that is affection and respect, order and encouragement, and support.
Our awareness of this was an incalculable source of strength, and because real love is something unselfish and involves sacrifice and giving, we could not help but profit from it.’
And he continued,
‘Beneath it all, he has tried to engender a social conscience. There were wrongs which needed attention. There were people who were poor and needed help. And we have a responsibility to them and to this country.
Through no virtues and accomplishments of our own, we have been fortunate enough to be born in the United States under the most comfortable conditions. We, therefore, have a responsibility to others who are less well off.’
That is what Robert Kennedy was given. What he leaves to us is what he said, what he did, and what he stood for. A speech he made to the young people of South Africa on their Day of Affirmation in 1966 sums it up the best, and I would like to read it now:
‘There is discrimination in this world and slavery and slaughter and starvation. Governments repress their people; millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich and wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere.
These are differing evils, but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfection of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, our lack of sensibility towards the suffering of our fellows.
But we can perhaps remember — even if only for a time — that those who live with us are our brothers; that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek — as we do — nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men.
And surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.
The answer is to rely on youth — not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.
The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to the obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans.
They cannot be moved by those who cling to a present that is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger that come with even the most peaceful progress.
It is a revolutionary world we live in, and this generation at home and around the world has had thrust upon it a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived.
Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills. Yet many of the world’s great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man.
A young monk began the Protestant reformation; a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the boarders of the earth; a young woman reclaimed the territory of France; and it was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the 32 year-old Thomas Jefferson who [pro]claimed that “all men are created equal.”
These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.
It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence.
Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.
For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education.
But that is not the road history has marked out for us. Like it or not, we live in times of danger and uncertainty. But they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.
All of us will ultimately be judged, and as the years pass we will surely judge ourselves on the effort we have contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which our ideals and goals have shaped that event.
The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects.
Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society. Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control.
It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny.
There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live.’
That is the way he lived. That is what he leaves us.
My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.
As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:
‘Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.’”
Eulogy Examples: Sister
Example 1: Charles Earl Spencer’s Eulogy For His Sister, Princess Diana
Princess Diana was loved around the world, and known for her style, beauty, and extensive charitable work. She tragically died in a car accident in Paris at the age of 36, after her vehicle was chased by paparazzi.
Her funeral was held at Westminster Abbey. In his eulogy, her brother beautifully captured everything about Diana that made her special and unique:
- “She was a symbol of selfless humanity”;
- She “brightened our lives”;
- She had a “wonderfully mischievous sense of humor with a laugh that bent you double”; and
- Our particular favourite line: “Your joy for life transmitted where ever you took your smile and the sparkle in those unforgettable eyes.”
We provide below the full text of Earl Spencer’s eulogy in hopes that it serves as a great example of how to write a tribute to a beloved sister who has passed away.
Eulogy’s Full Text
I stand before you today, the representative of a family in grief in a country in mourning before a world in shock.
We are all united not only in our desire to pay our respects to Diana but rather in our need to do so.
For such was her extraordinary appeal that the tens of millions of people taking part in this service all over the world via television and radio who never actually met her, feel that they too lost someone close to them in the early hours of Sunday morning.
It is a more remarkable tribute to Diana than I can ever hope to offer her today.
Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty.
All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality.
Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.
Today is our chance to say thank you for the way you brightened our lives, even though God granted you but half a life.
We will all feel cheated always that you were taken from us so young and yet we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all.
Only now that you are gone do we truly appreciate what we are now without and we want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult.
We have all despaired at our loss over the past week and only the strength of the message you gave us through your years of giving has afforded us the strength to move forward.
There is a temptation to rush to canonize your memory, there is no need to do so. You stand tall enough as a human being of unique qualities not to need to be seen as a saint.
Indeed to sanctify your memory would be to miss out on the very core of your being, your wonderfully mischievous sense of humor with a laugh that bent you double.
Your joy for life transmitted where ever you took your smile and the sparkle in those unforgettable eyes. Your boundless energy which you could barely contain.
But your greatest gift was your intuition and it was a gift you used wisely.
This is what underpinned all your other wonderful attributes and if we look to analyze what it was about you that had such a wide appeal we find it in your instinctive feel for what was really important in all our lives.
Without your God-given sensitivity we would be immersed in greater ignorance at the anguish of AIDS and H.I.V. sufferers, the plight of the homeless, the isolation of lepers, the random destruction of land mines.
Diana explained to me once that it was her innermost feelings of suffering that made it possible for her to connect with her constituency of the rejected.
And here we come to another truth about her. For all the status, the glamour, the applause, Diana remained throughout a very insecure person at heart, almost childlike in her desire to do good for others so she could release herself from deep feelings of unworthiness of which her eating disorders were merely a symptom.
The world sensed this part of her character and cherished her for her vulnerability whilst admiring her for her honesty.
The last time I saw Diana was on July 1, her birthday in London, when typically she was not taking time to celebrate her special day with friends but was guest of honor at a special charity fund-raising evening.
She sparkled of course, but I would rather cherish the days I spent with her in March when she came to visit me and my children in our home in South Africa.
I am proud of the fact apart from when she was on display meeting President Mandela we managed to contrive to stop the ever-present paparazzi from getting a single picture of her—that meant a lot to her.
These were days I will always treasure. It was as if we had been transported back to our childhood when we spent such an enormous amount of time together—the two youngest in the family.
Fundamentally she had not changed at all from the big sister who mothered me as a baby, fought with me at school and endured those long train journeys between our parents’ homes with me at weekends.
It is a tribute to her level-headedness and strength that despite the most bizarre-like life imaginable after her childhood, she remained intact, true to herself.
There is no doubt that she was looking for a new direction in her life at this time. She talked endlessly of getting away from England, mainly because of the treatment that she received at the hands of the newspapers.
I don’t think she ever understood why her genuinely good intentions were sneered at by the media, why there appeared to be a permanent quest on their behalf to bring her down. It is baffling.
My own and only explanation is that genuine goodness is threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum.
It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this—a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.
She would want us today to pledge ourselves to protecting her beloved boys William and Harry from a similar fate and I do this here Diana on your behalf. We will not allow them to suffer the anguish that used regularly to drive you to tearful despair.
And beyond that, on behalf of your mother and sisters, I pledge that we, your blood family, will do all we can to continue the imaginative and loving way in which you were steering these two exceptional young men so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition, but can sing openly as you planned.
We fully respect the heritage into which they have both been born and will always respect and encourage them in their royal role.
But we, like you, recognize the need for them to experience as many different aspects of life as possible to arm them spiritually and emotionally for the years ahead. I know you would have expected nothing less from us.
William and Harry, we all cared desperately for you today. We are all chewed up with the sadness at the loss of a woman who was not even our mother. How great your suffering is, we cannot even imagine.
I would like to end by thanking God for the small mercies he has shown us at this dreadful time. For taking Diana at her most beautiful and radiant and when she had joy in her private life.
Above all we give thanks for the life of a woman I am so proud to be able to call my sister, the unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplaceable Diana whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds.
Example 2: Ted Kennedy’s Eulogy For His Sister-In-Law, Jacqueline Kennedy Onnassis
To us, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was one of the most famous women in our century. But to the Kennedy clan, she was simply a beloved family member and friend.
Jackie died at the age of 64 after a brave battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer. She died at home surrounded by her family and friends.
Her funeral was held a few blocks away from her Manhattan apartment on May 23, 1994, at St. Ignatius Loyola. She had been baptized in that very same parish in 1929, and was confirmed there as a teenager.
At her funeral, Ted Kennedy gave a glowing eulogy about his former sister-in-law. Some of the beautiful lines he wrote about her included:
- “She was always there for our family in her special way.”
- “No one else looked like her, spoke like her, wrote like her, or was so original in the way she did things. No one we knew ever had a better sense of self.”
- “[Her husband] took such delight in her brilliance and her spirit.”
- “Her love for [her daughter and son] was deep and unqualified. She revelled in their accomplishments; she hurt with their sorrows; she felt sheer joy and delight in spending time with them. At the mere mention of one of their names, Jackie’s eyes would shine brighter and her smile would grow bigger. She once said that if you “bungle raising your children nothing else much matters in life.” She didn’t bungle. Once again, she showed how to do the most important thing of all, and do it right.”
- “She had a wonderful sense of humor — a way of focusing on someone with total attention—and a little girl delight in who they were and what they were saying. It was a gift of herself that she gave to others.”
If you are writing a eulogy for a beloved sister-in-law who has passed away, we hope you find Mr. Kennedy’s eulogy to be an inspirational example.
Eulogy’s Full Text
John and Caroline, Ed [Schlossberg] and Maurice [Tempelsman], members of the family, Mrs. Clinton, members of the clergy, and friends:
Last summer, when we were on the upper deck on the boat at the Vineyard, waiting for President and Mrs. Clinton to arrive, Jackie turned to me and said:
‘Teddy, you go down and greet the President.’
But I said: ‘Maurice is already there.’
And Jackie answered with a smile: ‘Teddy, you do it. Maurice isn’t running for re-election.’
She was always there for our family in her special way. She was a blessing to us and to the nation—and a lesson to the world on how to do things right, how to be a mother, how to appreciate history, how to be courageous.
No one else looked like her, spoke like her, wrote like her, or was so original in the way she did things. No one we knew ever had a better sense of self.
Eight months before she married Jack, they went together to President Eisenhower’s Inaugural Ball. Jackie said later that that’s where they decided they liked inaugurations.
No one ever gave more meaning to the title of ‘First Lady.’ The nation’s capital city looks as it does because of her. She saved Lafayette Square and Pennsylvania Avenue. The ‘National Cultural Center’ was her cause before it was ‘The Kennedy Center’. Jackie brought the greatest artists to the White House, and brought the arts to the center of national attention.
Today, in large part because of her inspiration and vision, the arts are an abiding part of national policy.
President Kennedy took such delight in her brilliance and her spirit. At a White House dinner, he once leaned over and told the wife of the French Ambassador, “Jackie speaks fluent French. But I only understand one out of every five words she says—and that word is ‘DeGaulle.’
And then, during those four endless days in 1963, she held us together as a family and a country.
In large part because of her, we could grieve and then go on. She lifted us up, and in the doubt and darkness, she gave her fellow citizens back their pride as Americans. She was then 34 years old.
Afterward, as the eternal flame she lit flickered in the autumn of Arlington Cemetery, Jackie went on to do what she most wanted—to raise Caroline and John, and warm her family’s life and that of all the Kennedys.
Robert Kennedy sustained her, and she helped make it possible for Bobby to continue. She kept Jack’s memory alive and he carried Jack’s mission on.
Her two children turned out to be extraordinary: honest, unspoiled, and with a character equal to hers. And she did it in the most trying circumstances. They are her two miracles.
Her love for Caroline and John was deep and unqualified. She revelled in their accomplishments; she hurt with their sorrows; she felt sheer joy and delight in spending time with them.
At the mere mention of one of their names, Jackie’s eyes would shine brighter and her smile would grow bigger.
She once said that if you “bungle raising your children nothing else much matters in life.” She didn’t bungle. Once again, she showed how to do the most important thing of all, and do it right.
When she went to work, Jackie became a respected professional in the world of publishing. And because of her, remarkable books came to life. And she searched out new authors and ideas.
She was interested in everything. Her love of history became a devotion to historic preservation. You knew, when Jackie joined the cause to save a building in Manhattan, the bulldozers might as well turn around and go home.
She had a wonderful sense of humor—a way of focusing on someone with total attention—and a little girl delight in who they were and what they were saying. It was a gift of herself that she gave to others. And in spite of all of her heartache and loss, she never faltered.
I often think of what she said about Jack in December after he died: ‘They made him a legend, when he would have preferred to be a man.’
Jackie would have preferred to be just herself, but the world insisted that she be a legend too.
She never wanted public notice—in part I think, because it brought back painful memories of unbearable sorrow endured in the glare of a million lights.
In all the years since then, her genuineness and depth of character continued to shine through the privacy, and reach people everywhere.
Jackie was too young to be a widow in 1963, and too young to die now.
Her grandchildren were bringing new joy to her life, a joy that illuminated her face whenever you saw them together.
Whether it was taking Rose and Tatiana for an ice cream cone, or taking a walk in Central Park with little Jack as she did last Sunday, she relished being “Grandjackie” and showering her grandchildren with love.
At the end, she worried more about us than herself. She let her family and friends know she was thinking of them. How cherished were those wonderful notes in her distinctive hand on her powder blue stationary.
In truth, she did everything she could—and more—for each of us. She made a rare and noble contribution to the American spirit.
But for us, most of all she was a magnificent wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, aunt, and friend.
She graced our history. And for those of us who knew and loved her—she graced our lives.
Eulogy Examples: Grandfather
Example 1: A Grandson’s Eulogy For His Grandpa
Today, I have the honor of reintroducing you to Francis Alois Buechel—better known to many as “Pa”.
Born December 3, 1928. Son of Edwin and Helen, brother of Viola, Husband to Alice, Father of six children, 17 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, friend and storyteller to all else who meet him.
We are here today to remember the life and legacy he leaves on the earth. It was a long and simple life: never complex and always with good, honest intentions.
I would like to reflect on the person Grandpa was.
I could stand here for the better part of the day and reminisce about all the stories grandpa was either part of or he told, and for those who knew Grandpa, you understand how long those stories could be.
We will cover some of those, but overall I would like to remember the person grandpa was and what he has done for everyone he met.
Grandpa was above all else a family man, followed very closely by storyteller.
He had the ability to have a witty comeback for almost any conversation, something that he definitely passed on to everyone in the family.
You never knew what little pun he had just waiting for the conversation, but you knew there would be one, followed by that smile and laugh you just knew he loved to show off.
Family man is a term not appreciated nearly enough these days. Today, there is more emphasis put on who we are and what we accomplish. Grandpa though, was the epitome of how great and unselfish it is to put those in your family first.
Grandma and Grandpa never asked for much. They drove plain, simple vehicles, lived in a modest home, and never took anything in life for granted.
Grandma and Grandpa put everyone in their family first.
I have heard the story a hundred times about grandpa selling the business to the boys. It was always presented as him seeing the boys wanting to grow the business and move it at a pace he wasn’t really interested in.
He was happy with how things were, so he sold it to them so they could expand and grow the business the way they felt best…
Now I was barely even alive at this point, so I am going to take the following assumption from what I knew about Grandpa and what made him tick.
I personally believe the sale of the business had more to do with Grandpa wanting to keep everyone happy and keep peace in the family.
Knowing Grandpa, I don’t think it was in his nature to just give something like that over when he was so young.
Grandpa, was of course, a very driven person. You do not become the largest pig farmer in a whole county by being ok with “average”.
You do not pay off a bank loan on your first splitter ahead of schedule, when you were first told by the bank “we aren’t going to give you the money because you will fail”.
No—Grandpa had a work ethic and drive that he was very modest about. So why then would grandpa sell his business that he developed into a success? I believe it was because his love of his family and desire to keep the peace with his boys.
It was not only this act that showed what a family man grandpa was. If there was a holiday to be celebrated by Grandma and Grandpa you were pretty sure it wasn’t going to be on the actual day—Christmas was never Christmas day.
This way everyone in the family could celebrate with their other family’s on that day.
Grandpa, was of course, all about keeping the peace in the family. I don’t know if we all really thought about it that way.
It’s easy to just dismiss it and say it’s what our family does, not really thinking about why. That’s ok, It keeps the peace then, just as Grandpa wanted it.
Grandpa was also a very devote husband to his wife.
They used to go to the mall every Sunday, just to walk around and hold hands, and maybe buy grandma a piece of jewelry at JCPenny’s.
I don’t honestly know if I ever really saw one without the other. Just like going to their house, if you came to the door, chances are they were at the table together, grandpa at the head of the table, grandma to the right.
They had a life together that was inspirational. Sure through the years I’m sure there were issues they had to work through. No matter the issue, they made the most of their life together.
Even these last few days, the love you could see in Grandma’s eye’s for this man she went through life with was nothing short of amazing.
Grandpa hanging on to allow grandma time to smile at him and gently hold her hand one day longer. We can all learn from them, our time together is short, even 63 years together is barely a blip in the realm of the world.
Some say it’s what you leave on this earth that shows what you did with your life.
What Grandpa was able to help me see is it is more important to grow old with style and dignity, and give everything you can to the people you love.
Now, Grandpa would likely state how difficult it was in his golden years: hard to breath—coughing those three deep coughs in a row over and over that made you think a lung would spit right out on the table.
Yes, no amount of bee pollen pills were going to make him feel better… (but of course to him they did).
Grandpa grew old with dignitary because he kept his wife happy. He’d chauffeur Grandma and her sister’s around like they were rock stars—it was always funny when he’d stop at work with them—he’s have the biggest grin on his face!
Grandpa made sure grandma was happy, and that is something that we should all take pride in. It was never about individual accomplishment with him, it was about their life together.
I would never say I was the closest in the family with grandpa, or the best grand kid, but what I would say is there is no one else in the world I would have wanted as a grandpa.
He taught all of us in the family what it meant to do an honest day’s work. I can remember as a youngster playing outside on a Saturday or Sunday watching grandpa drive his little Massey Ferguson forklift to his quarry on Paradise road.
He’d get together a pallet of stone, and then drive back to work to do what he needed with it.
Work had to be done, and if there was time, it needed to get taken care of.
He was not one to sit still too long, whether it was to saw stone, or later in his career driving his single axle truck he was so proud of, he’d make sure he did his job.
As a sidenote—Grandpa was a perfectionist that would drive us non-perfectionist absolutely crazy.
Loading grandpa’s truck was an art form, and if you had something a little out of place he’d make sure you knew it… every pallet had a place, every strap had a location, every load an exact drop spot to be delivered to.
Grandpa’s maps were a source of extreme pride for him… Don’t try to give Grandpa a direction that didn’t have an exact route.
I’ll never forget how excited he was when he got a Calumet County road map that had every road and route you could take.
When being “the gofer”—pa’s nickname for himself because he would “go for” whatever was needed at work, it wouldn’t matter where he was going or how many times he had been there—those maps were getting whipped out.
For those of you who knew Dick Kaiser, those two going around and around about how to get to a job site was always a battle to the end. The man who couldn’t give a direction with the man that couldn’t get there without..
Anyway—back to my point from before—it wouldn’t be a eulogy about grandpa without a random story getting thrown in the middle.
Grandpa taught all of us the importance of being honest in our work, and doing the best job you can.
When Grandpa was getting older he got into woodworking, specifically doll cradles and Christmas mangers. Grandpa was always so proud of the work he put into these.
His mangers were a thing of beauty, taking old barn board off his barn and cutting them down to the last piece of wood he could get out of them.
He had an assembly process for making those mangers down to a science that Henry Ford would have been impresses with.
Did I mention grandpa was fickle?
I loved the way he would save every little piece of wood and nothing would go to waste.
I cleaned out grandma and grandpa’s car garage this past year… what a good laugh I had inside. That man saved every little scrap piece of wood you could imagine.
It was so funny because he was feeling pretty good the day I did it, so sure enough, grandpa made his way to the basement to see how I was doing, or more likely, what I was doing.
I loaded the wood onto a pallet, and as I was taking the pallet away from the house a cutoff shovel handle rolled off the pallet. Of course grandpa picked it up and said, “I’ll keep this one piece, I might need this yet.”
But I digress… I’m certain I have grandpa’s random storytelling and smart alack dysfunction too…
So in concluding our memory on the life of “Pa” Buechel, I want you all to remember that he was one of the best people you may ever have had the honor of meeting.
I understand that’s a bold statement, but I believe it to be very true.
The people that make the biggest impact in the world are people like grandpa—honest, truthful, and putting the needs of their family first, it’s bigger than I think Pa even realized.
Remember, this is a man who likely did not realize how big a deal it was that he took a risk and made a decision that affected thousands of people.
As Rick Schneider, a salesperson at Buechel Stone was told by one of his customers: “That very decision Francis made that day to buy a stone splitter did not just change you and me, it changed the stone industry”…
Yet I stand here telling you that decision was not nearly as significant for everyone here as the decision he made to love and care for his family.
I know one thing for sure—Grandpa will always have my back.
By Mike Buechel at Buechel Stone Corp.
Example 2: A Granddaughter’s Eulogy For Her Grandfather
Grandfathers are put into our lives in order to make better sense of the universe. And my Grandfather certainly shaped the universe for myself and the rest of our family.
Astronomer Dr. Michelle Thaller explains our position in the universe with the eloquent, yet literal sentiment—“We are dead stars, looking back up at the sky.” Grandpa now having returned to the sky.
My Grandfather, like all of us, was a complex person. He was someone many people would describe as gruff and serious.
He didn’t always make the best first, second, or third impression, but his heart was always in the right place, whether he was ushering here at St. Mark or helping me clean rabbit cages or my cousins with their Boy Scout projects.
But today, I want to talk about the Grandpa that I knew.
My Grandpa was the one who smiled for my photos—which he never did for Grandma; he always made sure to hop on the phone and say “I love you”; and he liked to joke that I was his favorite.
(But let me pause here and draw back the curtain to spoil you for Grandpa’s hand. He said this to all his grandchildren. Sorry, brothers and cousins, if this takes away the magic.)
My Grandpa found his joy with his grandchildren, and it’s something that almost wasn’t.
I’m the oldest grandchild. When I was born over 30 years ago, my mother told him he wasn’t allowed to smoke or drink around me.
My Grandfather in all his infamous stubbornness took a “5 Day Plan to Stop Smoking” class from the Seventh Day Adventists and quit cold turkey. Grandma recently gave me the certificate from the program, and I laughed a lot.
Of course, Grandpa made something lots of people sincerely struggle with look like a day in the park with his granddaughter.
Everyone now knows no single addiction can be curbed in five days. But Grandpa stopped a 40-year-old habit because of his love for his grandchildren.
My Grandpa showed his love through actions.
He built two of the homes I’ve lived in, showing me how to hammer nails. Grandpa attended graduations, plays, birthday parties, 4-H fairs, piano recitals, and much more.
He’d always help out where needed, whether buckling on my patent leather shoes or the time he disastrously attempted to brush my hair.
Grandpa’s “get-it-done” attitude didn’t always mix with the delicate nature of grooming a 5-year-old. But his attitude did get a lot things right: like my need for a drill, after I moved away from home, or when he built little wooden hidey-holes for my rabbits.
Many of the happiest times during my childhood were the weekends spent at my Grandparents’ home. I’d sit in the passenger’s seat of my Grandpa’s pickup truck going from Bend to Eugene, chatting or singing his ear off with whatever was on my mind.
Like my Grandpa, I’ve been full of opinions since day one. Opinions that my Grandpa and I were always honest and upfront with each other about.
I’m pretty sure he was the first one to truthfully point out that I do not have the singing voice of an angel.
It’s an incredibly rare gift in life to find someone who you’re not afraid to talk to, because you know that they’ll always unconditionally love you and honestly root for your happiness as you shape it. This was my Grandpa.
We didn’t agree on everything, and yes, sometimes I got his gruff too. But those were just moments, not lifetimes. My Grandpa understood that.
While everyone else flipped out when I shaved my head at 16, my Grandpa took it all in stride. He instead patted my head and told me that the texture reminded him of his childhood dog Fred.
After all, my hair was a) already gone and b) would grow back. Even in his disapproval, he was practical and loving.
While I’m sure my Grandpa would enjoy all this bragging about how much I love and miss him, he was never someone who appreciated the overly sentimental.
He would much rather see everyone together and enjoying themselves. Grandpa would like us to be doing something.
So please join us, after this service concludes, at the Parish Center for food and fellowship.
By Erica McGillivray at Silver of Ice.
Eulogy Examples: Grandmother
Example 1: A Granddaughter’s Eulogy For Her Grandma
This touching eulogy was written by journalist and business woman Lynne Meredith Golodner and hosted on her blog.
Golodner’s special talent is in “telling stories of the moments in our lives” and in “helping us find meaning in the mundane”.
Her words beautifully capture the profound influence that a grandmother can have on our lives.
Eulogy’s Full Text
Our parents give us life.
Our grandparents give us a sense of who we are and where we came from.
This week, as we said goodbye to Grandma Sheila, it hit me how incredibly lucky I have been to have my lovely grandmother with me for 42 years.
Not only with me, but an integral, close part of my life.
It is rare for a grandparent-grandchild relationship to be so essential and so long-lasting, but then, Grandma Sheila was that exceptional kind of person every single day of her life.
Until the last couple of years, my grandmother had more energy and interest in life than anyone I’ve ever known.
When I was living in Washington, D.C. in my 20s, she and Grandpa Artie came to visit.
They must have been in their 70s at the time, and we went all over town—shopping, dinner, movies.
After seeing a Hitchcock film that Saturday night, Grandma and Grandpa said, “Ok, where are we going now?”
I was so exhausted that I insisted it was time for bed. They looked at me with surprise—and disappointment—because they would have gone for dessert, coffee, more living, more life.
My grandmother was an incredible matriarch. Really, she was the regal leader in our family.
She baked and cooked and babysat and took us shopping and saw our new clothes when we were little. S
he was always present, part of our everyday lives in such a tangible way.
As a child, I had friends whose grandparents had retired to Florida and I remember feeling that while they were lucky enough to get a yearly trip to warmer weather, I was even luckier, because I had my grandparents all the time.
That constant loving presence really shapes a person.
From our grandparents, we learn where we come from, we learn our history, we learn who we are.
Once, when I was 12, my grandmother took me for a day of shopping at Fairlane Mall.
I was so excited to share with her my favorite music—early 1980s rap. She agreed to play my radio station in her car as she drove us carefully down the Southfield Freeway.
As we came up over a hill, we didn’t know there was a car stalled in the center lane.
Grandma reacted quickly, extended her arm in front of me to protect me, and with the other arm, masterfully steered around the car, spinning out across the three freeway lanes onto the shoulder. It was terrifying. The first car accident I had ever been in.
The car stopped, she checked to make sure we were both ok, then leaned over and shut off the radio.
I felt terrible that my music caused my grandmother to get in an accident.
Of course, it didn’t, and she told me that later, but she never said a harsh word.
She simply pulled back onto the road and took us quietly to the mall and we spent the afternoon shopping and talking as if nothing had happened.
What made my grandmother special? So wonderful? Her elegance. She always looked the picture of perfection and grace.
She knew everyone in Detroit, and everyone knew her. Even better, no one ever had a bad word to say about my grandmother.
She loved deeply and fully, all of us. She was the kind of person who just had more love in her heart for the more people who joined our lives.
This story of my grandmother wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t pay homage to her incredible cooking. It seemed anything she made was delicious—even my children thought her Campbell’s vegetable soup was amazing!
When I lived in New York, Grandma Sheila sent me Jacobson’s boxes full of her double-chocolate brownies and once, I made the mistake of bringing them to work—I barely got one for myself.
She taught me to make gefilte fish from scratch.
I took this very seriously, as quite an honor, and showed up on a Sunday before Passover one year to help her chop the fish in her big wooden bowl, twice, so it came out extra fluffy.
There were fish heads bobbing in a pot of boiling water and carrots cooking and so many steps in this assembly line process.
The apartment reeked of cooking fish and by the time we were done, so did I—my hair, my clothing, everything.
I went home and showered to rid myself of the smell—but the next day at work, when I unzipped my purse that had been with me at Grandma’s apartment, out wafted the scent of fish. For a week I carried that smell with me!
One year when I couldn’t make it home for Passover, I called Grandma Sheila for her matzo ball soup recipe.
The secret, she said, was fresh dill. I wrote down everything she said and drove all over town looking for a whole pullet cut into eighths, parsnip, parsley root, everything she listed.
In my apartment, which I shared with one friend, I spent half a day cooking and when I finally sat down at our little table by myself with a steaming bowl in front of me, that first bite, full of dill, made me feel like I was at my grandparents’ Passover table, rather than alone in another city.
My grandparents were a large part of the reason I moved back to Michigan. After all, what is life without family to support you, to love you unconditionally, to be at your side through good and through bad?
As I have shared the news this week of my grandmother’s state, friends and colleagues have mentioned how old they were when they lost their grandparents. The oldest was late 20s.
I come back to this notion that for 42 years, my grandmother has been an influential and important part of my life. Until this last week, I hadn’t realized how truly exceptional that is. Many marriages never last that long!
She is so much a part of who I am that even though I knew she would one day leave us, I can’t quite believe she is gone.
Grandma Sheila—you impacted my life in so many ways.
You shaped who I am. You shaped who my children are. You influenced all of us so greatly.
I will always love you and save a special corner of my heart to keep you with me.
And I know we will miss you every day of our lives.
Example 2: A Granddaughter’s Eulogy For Her Grandmother
Emma Garofalo wasn’t only a sister, a mother, wife, grandmother and friend. She was a fighter, a believer, a teacher and a guide. She was a perfectionist, an umpire, a comforter and a mentor.
The reason she touched so many lives and affected so many people was due to her dynamic sense of being.
In the same breath she could and would praise you and holler at you. (And I’m sure we can all recall times when Emma has hollered at us for one thing or another).
I’ve always thought of my grandmother as immortal. We look up to our grandparents with a sense of awe as they represents so much history and so many memories.
They are our living roots and their words weave the tapestry of not only their past, but our past as well.
As time begins to show on the faces of our loved ones, we begin to listen more closely and seek out answers to questions we didn’t even know we had.
I took the time to listen and as the tales began to unravel, I began to see the woman my grandmother was and how she was the heroine in her own autobiography.
Her travels began at the age of 5 when she embarked upon the journey of a lifetime to Ellis Island in New York City from Novara, Sicily. Lady Liberty in all of her splendour was no match for a young and inquisitive Emma.
It was here where she was given her first taste of America: a banana. She decided she wasn’t keen on the yellow fruit. It wasn’t until a few years later did she learn you weren’t meant to eat the skin.
Unable to speak a word of English; nothing seemed to deter her. When her mother passed away quite young, Emma rose to the challenge of raising her brother, Tony, and helped to shape him into the successful man he is today.
Now, If anyone knows this family, they’ll know that the women may possess a slightly stubborn side. I’m going to go ahead and blame Grandma for that trait.
On a trip back to her hometown in Italy, she met the dashing (and probably mischievous) ex-serviceman, Carmelo Garofalo.
Her story with Carmelo involved a whirlwind of love letters, a $500 wedding dress bought in New York and a defiant trip back to Sicily to marry her Prince Charming.
Her Uncle Ugo was the only person there to give her away—but she didn’t care. She was always determined to have her own way. She was straight talking. No one ever did tell Emma what to do.
Most of you have probably heard the story of how Emma and Carmelo escaped a close shave in the middle of the Atlantic. This was one of her favourite stories to tell.
While scheduled to return to America in June, they learnt my mother, Susanna, was to be born in May. they decided to take an earlier voyage on the Andrea Dora so Sue would be born in the United States.
The journey they were meant to take in June ended In tragedy as the Andrea Dora sunk due to collision with another ship. It would seem that that was the first of her nine lives.
These are our favourite stories. But this is only a snapshot of the millions of smiles, laughs, tears and exchanges we have experienced with Emma.
What’s gotten us through the past few days are the stories we have all shared—reliving those moments where we laughed or cried with Emma.
There were stories about the Wine Shop—which Mr DiCarlo owned but— in true Emma fashion—she ran.
Tales of baking in a steamy kitchen and passing down family recipes to Uncle Chuck such as buckeyes, nut roll, biscotti and baelish. She could never give you a full recipe if you asked though, as time had gifted her with precision.
One tale which made us smile was Uncle Chuck spending hours grinding walnuts for the assorted recipes. There’s only so much grinding of nuts of that a man can take. (That’s what he said anyways!)
Many of us smiled at the memories of the Christmas Eve dinners she executed perfectly year after year, no matter how difficult it was to find the traditional seven fish.
With a full house and 15 cars in the drive, you wouldn’t expect a carolling family to be left out in the cold. We’ve all been present for a meal at Emma and Carmelo’s. There’s no chance of hearing much of anything beyond the clanging and shouting at the dinner table.
Sunday dinners were another tradition my grandparents prided themselves on. Carmelo May have been in charge of the sauce and meatballs, but everyone knew is was Emma running the show.
After a few hours she would tell you to get your kids and go home—she never was one for hiding her true feelings.
She would tell you if you were wrong. She would tell if you were right. That is, of course, as long as your idea of right was also her idea of right. You can’t find that kind of honesty now a days.
Her love for her friends was unconditional—and she has a lot of friends. Everyone knew they could count on Emma for one thing or another.
Whether that be translating documents into Italian or English or looking after the kids. She was always prepared to help a friend in need. Of course, that went both ways.
Not that I believe my mum, aunt and uncles ever misbehaved …. but I’ve heard tales that they couldn’t get away with anything. She always found out—like she had eyes in every corner of Painesville.
After 84 full years of life, she was the mother to five, Aunt to twelve, grandmother to six and nearly a great grandmother.
She will be buried today with a blank cheque numbered 6984, as she always wanted money to spend in paradise.
The number represents her six grandchildren, her nine Lives and her 84 years spent living her own adventure story.
It’s Monday, grandma. The bank opened at 9.
She fought cancer, survived a hit and run accident and even escaped a shipwreck. Her life was lived to its fullest, just as we would expect from her, and that is evident by the many faces we see here today.
God, faith and family were her most treasured possessions. So it is only fitting that we join here today to give her the farewell she deserves.
It’s said that those who touch our lives inspire us and love us. And they do so for a lifetime.
Today we honour and celebrate her life and her love. Our lives more colourful because she was apart of it.
We have the opportunity today to remember and share her treasured stories and know that it was all of us—her family and friends—who helped Emma live a long and happy life.
By Jennifer Berry at Reflections of an Everyday Life.
Eulogy Examples: Friend
Example 1: US President Barack Obama’s Eulogy For His Friend, Senator Ted Kennedy
Your Eminence, Vicki, Kara, Edward, Patrick, Curran, Caroline, members of the Kennedy family, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Today we say goodbye to the youngest child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy.
The world will long remember their son Edward as the heir to a weighty legacy; a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the United States Senate—a man who graces nearly 1,000 laws, and who penned more than 300 laws himself.
But those of us who loved him, and ache with his passing, know Ted Kennedy by the other titles he held: Father. Brother. Husband. Grandfather. Uncle Teddy, or as he was often known to his younger nieces and nephews, “The Grand Fromage,” or “The Big Cheese.”
I, like so many others in the city where he worked for nearly half a century, knew him as a colleague, a mentor, and above all, as a friend.
Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch; the restless dreamer who became its rock.
He was the sunny, joyful child who bore the brunt of his brothers’ teasing, but learned quickly how to brush it off.
When they tossed him off a boat because he didn’t know what a jib was, six-year-old Teddy got back in and learned to sail.
When a photographer asked the newly elected Bobby to step back at a press conference because he was casting a shadow on his younger brother, Teddy quipped, “It’ll be the same in Washington.”
That spirit of resilience and good humour would see Teddy through more pain and tragedy than most of us will ever know.
He lost two siblings by the age of 16. He saw two more taken violently from a country that loved them. He said goodbye to his beloved sister, Eunice, in the final days of his life.
He narrowly survived a plane crash, watched two children struggle with cancer, buried three nephews, and experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible.
It’s a string of events that would have broken a lesser man.
And it would have been easy for Ted to let himself become bitter and hardened; to surrender to self-pity and regret; to retreat from public life and live out his years in peaceful quiet. No one would have blamed him for that.
But that was not Ted Kennedy. As he told us, “…[I]ndividual faults and frailties are no excuse to give in — and no exemption from the common obligation to give of ourselves.”
Indeed, Ted was the “Happy Warrior” that the poet Wordsworth spoke of when he wrote:
As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and the suffering of others—the sick child who could not see a doctor; the young soldier denied her rights because of what she looks like or who she loves or where she comes from.
The landmark laws that he championed—the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children’s health insurance, the Family and Medical Leave Act—all have a running thread.
Ted Kennedy’s life work was not to champion the causes of those with wealth or power or special connections.
It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding.
He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.
We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers’ rights or civil rights.
And yet, as has been noted, while his causes became deeply personal, his disagreements never did. While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that’s not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw Ted Kennedy.
He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and platform and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect—a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.
And that’s how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time.
He did it by hewing to principle, yes, but also by seeking compromise and common cause—not through deal-making and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humour.
There was the time he courted Orrin Hatch for support of the Children’s Health Insurance Program by having his chief of staff serenade the senator with a song Orrin had written himself; the time he delivered shamrock cookies on a china plate to sweeten up a crusty Republican colleague; the famous story of how he won the support of a Texas Committee chairman on an immigration bill.
Teddy walked into a meeting with a plain manilla envelope, and showed only the chairman that it was filled with the Texan’s favourite cigars. When the negotiations were going well, he would inch the envelope closer to the chairman. (Laughter.)
When they weren’t, he’d pull it back. (Laughter.)
Before long, the deal was done. (Laughter.)
It was only a few years ago, on St. Patrick’s Day, when Teddy buttonholed me on the floor of the Senate for my support of a certain piece of legislation that was coming up for vote. I gave my pledge, but I expressed scepticism that it would pass.
But when the roll call was over, the bill garnered the votes that it needed, and then some.
I looked at Teddy with astonishment and asked how had he done it. He just patted me on the back and said, “Luck of the Irish.” (Laughter.)
Of course, luck had little to do with Ted Kennedy’s legislative success; he knew that.
A few years ago, his father-in-law told him that he and Daniel Webster just might be the two greatest senators of all time.
Without missing a beat, Teddy replied, “What did Webster do?” (Laughter.)
But though it is Teddy’s historic body of achievements that we will remember, it is his giving heart that we will miss.
It was the friend and the colleague who was always the first to pick up the phone and say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “I hope you feel better,” or “What can I do to help?”
It was the boss so adored by his staff that over 500, spanning five decades, showed up for his 75th birthday party.
It was the man who sent birthday wishes and thank-you notes and even his own paintings to so many who never imagined that a U.S. senator of such stature would take the time to think about somebody like them.
I have one of those paintings in my private study off the Oval Office—a Cape Cod seascape that was a gift to a freshman legislator who had just arrived in Washington and happened to admire it when Ted Kennedy welcomed him into his office.
That, by the way, is my second gift from Teddy and Vicki after our dog Bo.
And it seems like everyone has one of those stories—the ones that often start with “You wouldn’t believe who called me today.”
Ted Kennedy was the father who looked not only after his own three children, but John’s and Bobby’s as well.
He took them camping and taught them to sail. He laughed and danced with them at birthdays and weddings; cried and mourned with them through hardship and tragedy; and passed on that same sense of service and selflessness that his parents had instilled in him.
Shortly after Ted walked Caroline down the aisle and gave her away at the altar, he received a note from Jackie that read, “On you the carefree youngest brother fell a burden a hero would have begged to been spared. We are all going to make it because you were always there with your love.”
Not only did the Kennedy family make it because of Ted’s love—he made it because of t heirs, especially because the love and the life he found in Vicki.
After so much loss and so much sorrow, it could not have been easy for Ted to risk his heart again.
And that he did is a testament to how deeply he loved this remarkable woman from Louisiana. And she didn’t just love him back. As Ted would often acknowledge, Vicki saved him.
She gave him strength and purpose; joy and friendship; and stood by him always, especially in those last, hardest days.
We cannot know for certain how long we have here.
We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way.
We cannot know what God’s plan is for us.
What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and with love, and with joy.
We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves.
We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures.
And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of others.
This is how Ted Kennedy lived. This is his legacy.
He once said, as has already been mentioned, of his brother Bobby that he need not be idealized or enlarged in death because what he was in life—and I imagine he would say the same about himself.
The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy’s shoulders because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because of who he became.
We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office.
We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy—not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country that he loved.
In the days after September 11th, Teddy made it a point to personally call each one of the 177 families of this state who lost a loved one in the attack.
But he didn’t stop there. He kept calling and checking up on them. He fought through red tape to get them assistance and grief counselling.
He invited them sailing, played with their children, and would write each family a letter whenever the anniversary of that terrible day came along.
To one widow, he wrote the following:
“As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss, but we carry on, because we have to, because our loved ones would want us to, and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us.”
We carry on.
Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those that he has loved and lost.
At last he is with them once more, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good that he did, the dream he kept alive, and a single, enduring image—the image of a man on a boat, white mane tousled, smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for whatever storms may come, carrying on toward some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon.
May God bless Ted Kennedy, and may he rest in eternal peace.
Example 2: Woman’s Eulogy For A Life-Long Friend
I experienced a deep loss on December 9, 2015. Raymond Casanova Penfield, a lifelong friend, passed away on that day at the age of ninety-eight.
Ray was an extraordinary man. He and my dad became friends right after WWII.
They were both marketing guys in Chicago. Ray was already married: he had asked Thelma to be his wife the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.
He went back to Europe right after their wedding and ended up serving on the ground in Europe for five years, all the way through the Allied campaign in Italy.
They lived the high life in post-war Chicago: clubs and dinners and dancing.
Ray and Thelma would double date with my dad and whomever he was going out with at the time. They were the first couple to meet my mom when she came into the picture.
When Ray and Thelma started a family, they moved to California to begin a new life.
A few years later, my folks followed. (My sister and I were toddlers, about the same age as their two daughters.)
Ray was just the kind of guy to invite us to live with them in Berkeley. The four of them and the four of us were inseparable.
Afterwards, he offered us the use of their little rustic cabin in Tahoe for as long as we wanted.
Things didn’t work out for my dad in California, so we moved back to Chicago. But the friendship continued.
Every summer, we would make the cross-country drive to San Francisco. Ray opened his home to us.
I have a flood of memories of summer days with Ray taking time to take us everywhere and summer evenings filled wonderful dinners and loads of laughter.
I moved to the Bay Area to go to college.
Ray was the one who had written me the reference that I’m sure caught the Stanford admissions’ eyes. Ray was the one to pick me up at the airport. Ray was the one who made sure their home was my home.
And as my relationship with my dad became more and more strained, Ray was the one who listened. Ray was the one who held my hand. Ray was the rock for me.
When my mom died, there was no question that her service would be held in their home. (My parents had since retired to the Bay Area.) We all gathered in the living room and spoke of her and the intertwining of our lives.
Al and I became engaged, and I brought him to meet Ray and Thelma. The two of them opened their hearts to us. We watched how they were together.
Ray was a great punster and loved to make Thelma laugh. They hugged each other and went out their way to be kind to each other. Neither of us had experienced this in our own families. We learned about how to love, how to be married.
Ray again offered his home to us: we held our California wedding ceremony in the same living room.
We stayed with Ray for a while after Thelma passed away.
We went through boxes full of his family photographs, the three of us sitting on the floor of his closet. He told us stories of his life.
How he was a boy soprano in a cathedral choir in New York City. How he met Thelma. How he joined the Army. How he created a fake milk product called Klim, i.e. milk spelled backwards. How he was part of the early days of bringing BART to the Bay Area.
Ray had a piece of very good fortune when he was in his eighties. The inheritance that had been denied him for family reasons when he went off to war was finally released when his sister passed away.
He now had the financial freedom to do what he had wanted to do since he was a child: sing.
He started taking piano lessons. He traveled to London to visit his daughter, a cabaret singer on the European club circuit. He wrote songs and performed them. He recorded and created a Facebook Page to post his videos.
He lived with an infectious enthusiasm, still making puns, still generous, and filled with even more wisdom.
The last time Al and I had dinner with Ray, we told him how he and Thelma had changed our lives.
He wouldn’t take any credit, saying that he, too, had made mistakes.
On one of his very last days, though, he said that he had heard Thelma talking to him. She was telling him how happy she was that she would see him soon.
Who is your family? It may not be the people you are related to by blood.
If you need to, you might find real parents when you when you look beyond your birth certificate.
You might find other siblings all around you when your own have betrayed you.
It may be someone who gives you a new way to see the world. It may be someone who loves you unconditionally, happy when you are happy, there for you when you are lost.
And you, too, can be family to those who don’t have they ones they should.
Be kind, be generous. Open your home. Share your wisdom. Share your laughter. Show what it means to truly love.
By Nancy Houfek at Nancy Houfek.
Eulogy Examples: Funny
Example 1: Melissa Rivers’ Eulogy For Her Mom, Joan Rivers
American comedian Joan Rivers was known for her humour and fiery wit.
She died unexpectedly on September 4, 2014, after a botched medical procedure. Soon after, a memorial service was held at Temple Emanu-El on New York’s Upper East Side.
The funeral was attended by many Hollywood celebrities, including Hugh Jackman, Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters and Sarah Jessica Parker.
According to a report by Tim Teeman for The Daily Beast, who was in attendance, the temple was carpeted with white lilies.
The New York Gay Men’s Chorus regaled the congregation with hilarious musical numbers like “There’s nothing like a dame” and “Big Spender” while everybody took their seats.
By all accounts, the service was filled with tears, but also a great deal of laughter—just as Joan would have wanted it.
The final eulogy given at the memorial service was by her daughter, Melissa. She read an excerpt from her upcoming book, “A Letter to My Mom.”
In her sweet and funny eulogy, Melissa joked about the things that frustrated her about her mother, but also the things that she would miss.
Eulogy’s Full Text
I received the note that you slipped under my bedroom door last night. I was very excited to read it, thinking that it would contain amazing, loving advice that you wanted to share with me. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and saw that it began with the salutation, “Dear Landlord.” I have reviewed your complaints and address them below:
1. While I appreciate your desire to “upgrade” your accommodations to a larger space, I cannot, in good conscience, move [my 13-year-old son] Cooper into the laundry room. I do agree that it will teach him a life lesson about fluffing and folding, but since I don’t foresee him having a future in dry cleaning, I must say no.
Also, I know you are a true creative genius (and I am in awe of the depth of your instincts), but breaking down a wall without my permission is not an appropriate way to express that creativity. It is not only a boundary violation but a building-code violation as well. Additionally, the repairman can’t get here until next week, so your expansion plan will have to be put on hold.
2. Re: Your fellow “tenant” (your word), Cooper. While I trust you with him, it is not OK for you to undermine my rules. It is not OK that you let him have chips and ice cream for dinner. It is not OK that you let him skip school to go to the movies. And it is really not OK that the movie was “Last Tango in Paris.”
As for your taking his friends to a “gentlemen’s club,” I accepted your rationale that it was an educational experience for the boys—and you are right, he is the most popular kid in school right now—but I’d prefer he not learn biology from those “gentlemen” and their ladies, Bambi, Trixie and Kitten. And just because I yelled at you, I do not appreciate your claim that I have created a hostile living environment.
3. While I’m glad to see you’re socializing, you must refill the hot tub after your parties. In fact, you need to tone down the parties altogether. Imagine my surprise when I saw the photos you posted on Facebook of your friends frolicking topless in the hot tub.
I think it’s great that you’re entertaining more often, but I can’t keep fielding complaints from the neighbors about your noisy party games like Ring Around the Walker or naked Duck, Duck Caregiver.
I’m more than happy to have you use the house for social gatherings, but you cannot rent it out, advertise as “party central” or hand out T-shirts that say “F—Jimmy Buffett.”
In closing, I hope I have satisfactorily answered your complaints and queries. I love having you live with me, and I am grateful for every minute Cooper and I have with you. You are an inspiration. You are also 30 days late with the rent.
Example 2: John Cleese’s Eulogy For His Friend, Graham Chapman
British shock comedian Graham Chapman was one of the six members of the surreal comedy group Monty Python. He played the lead role in two hugely successful Python films, Holy Grail and Life of Brian.
He died at the age of 48 from tonsil and spinal cancer.
At his private memorial service, five of his Python cast mates decided to stay away to prevent the funeral from becoming a media circus and to give his family some privacy.
They did, however, send a wreath in the shape of the famous Python foot with the message: “To Graham, from the other Pythons with all our love. P.S. Stop us if we’re getting too silly.”
The Rolling Stones also sent a floral arrangement with the message: “Thanks for all the laughs”.
The memorial service began with a church choir singing a traditional hymn (Jerusalem) in a mock Chinese accent (which the Python’s referred to as “Engrish”).
John Cleese delivered a memorable eulogy to Chapman with a shock humour that he believed that Chapman would have wanted and was the first person on a televised British memorial service to say the F-word.
It is rumoured that Chapman’s ashes have been “blasted into the skies in a rocket” with assistance from the Dangerous Sports Club. In another (less exciting and funny) rumour, his ashes were scattered on Snowdon, North Wales.
Eulogy’s Full Text
Graham Chapman, co-author of the ‘Parrot Sketch,’ is no more.
He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky …
And I guess that we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, such capability and kindness, of such unusual intelligence should now be so suddenly spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he’d achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he’d had enough fun.
Well, I feel that I should say, “Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries. ”
And the reason I feel I should say this is, he would never forgive me if I didn’t, if I threw away this glorious opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him but mindless good taste. I could hear him whispering in my ear last night as I was writing this:
‘All right, Cleese, you’re very proud of being the very first person to ever say shit on British television. If this service is really just for starters, I want you to be the first person ever at a British memorial service to say f——!’
You see, the trouble is, I can’t. If he were here with me now I would probably have the courage, because he always emboldened me. But the truth is, I lack his balls, his splendid defiance. And so I’ll have to content myself instead with saying ‘Betty Mardsen…’
But bolder and less inhibited spirits than me follow today. Jones and Idle, Gilliam and Palin.
Heaven knows what the next hour will bring in Graham’s name.
Trousers dropping, blasphemers on pogo sticks, spectacular displays of high-speed farting, synchronized incest.
One of the four is planning to stuff a dead ocelot and a 1922 Remington typewriter up his own arse to the sound of the second movement of Elgar’s cello concerto. And that’s in the first half.
Because you see, Gray would have wanted it this way. Really. Anything for him but mindless good taste. And that’s what I’ll always remember about him—apart, of course, from his Olympian extravagance. He was the prince of bad taste.
He loved to shock. In fact, Gray, more than anyone I knew, embodied and symbolized all that was most offensive and juvenile in Monty Python.
And his delight in shocking people led him on to greater and greater feats. I like to think of him as the pioneering beacon that beat the path along which fainter spirits could follow.
Some memories, I remember writing the undertaker speech with him, and him suggesting the punch line, ‘All right, we’ll eat her, but if you feel bad about it afterwards, we’ll dig a grave and you can throw up into it.’
I remember discovering in 1969, when we wrote every day at the flat where Connie Booth and I lived, that he’d recently discovered the game of printing four-letter words on neat little squares of paper, and then quietly placing them at strategic points around our flat, forcing Connie and me into frantic last minute paper chases whenever we were expecting important guests.
I remember him at BBC parties crawling around on all fours, rubbing himself affectionately against the legs of gray-suited executives, and delicately nibbling the more appetizing female calves. Mrs. Eric Morecambe remembers that too.
I remember his being invited to speak at the Oxford union, and entering the chamber dressed as a carrot—a full length orange tapering costume with a large, bright green sprig as a hat—-and then, when his turn came to speak, refusing to do so.
He just stood there, literally speechless, for twenty minutes, smiling beatifically. The only time in world history that a totally silent man has succeeded in inciting a riot.
I remember Graham receiving a Sun newspaper TV award from Reggie Maudling. Who else! And taking the trophy falling to the ground and crawling all the way back to his table, screaming loudly, as loudly as he could.
And if you remember Gray, that was very loud indeed.
It is magnificent, isn’t it? You see, the thing about shock … is not that it upsets some people, I think; I think that it gives others a momentary joy of liberation, as we realized in that instant that the social rules that constrict our lives so terribly are not actually very important.
Well, Gray can’t do that for us anymore. He’s gone. He is an ex-Chapman.
All we have of him now is our memories.
But it will be some time before they fade.
Eulogy Examples: Religious
Example 1: Father’s Eulogy For His Baby Son
The focus of my talk will be to help you better get to know baby Will.
I plan to share things about Will’s life that only Michelle and I know.
I plan to share things about Will’s death that we think are important.
And I will conclude with a special request from our family.
But before I begin, I would like to address something Michelle and I feel is important in context with the rest of this talk.
I never knew how much a eulogy could be for the man giving it, or the people in the audience until this week.
Often times I’ve been to funerals which resemble a party. The eulogy is a recount of the great long life lived, and a celebration of extraordinary accomplishments.
The reality is Will was only with us for 82 days. The period from his conception to his death spanned only 50 weeks.
There have been those who have expressed feelings of guilt for not having seen or met Will before he died. It is our deepest wish that you do not do that to yourself.
No one expects a loved one to die so soon.
To be candid, Michelle and I actually feel the fact Will died so soon will be a significant part of his legacy.
So if you are one of those harbouring such feelings, please free yourself of this unnecessary burden.
I am now going to share with you some things about Will’s life that only Michelle and I know.
Michelle and I think it is important for you to know that Will was not planned; and that it was very unusual for us not to plan something so significant.
We believe we know exactly when Will was conceived. Now in hindsight it seems only fitting that we both laughed and cried at the same time when we found out Michelle was pregnant again.
This memory actually gives us comfort because we believe God has had a special purpose for baby Will from the very beginning.
It was also unusually easy to find a name for Will.
Given that Michelle is a teacher, it can be challenging to find names we like which do not remind her of certain former students.
Will’s name came to us easily very early in the pregnancy, and given Will’s death, we believe the obvious play on words associated with his name, and the many powerful meanings for the word “will”, is now something which is almost divine.
For some reason Michelle had the desire to hold Will so much more than with the other boys.
Will also liked to sit up more than the other boys. Even as a newborn, it was as if he could not see enough of the world.
Will and Michelle were rarely apart for his entire life.
We would often joke with our neighbours about how she would always carry Will around with her.
Given it was summer time and that our other boys love to play outside, Michelle would carry Will around with her in a papoose while both she and Will would watch our other boys play.
Will had strikingly beautiful blue eyes and his physical features were noticeably symmetrical. I always referred to Will as the best looking boy we had.
Each of our children has obvious unique gifts, and right from the start it was apparent to me that Will was going to be a lady’s man.
One of the neat things we noticed very early is how Will’s whole demeanour would light up when his brothers came around.
It was remarkable and we first noticed it in the hospital the second day Will was with us.
This might sound strange, and I hope I do not offend anyone, but Will loved to have his diaper changed.
After Will’s death last week, this memory was the first thing that made Michelle and I laugh again. We don’t know why.
It seems easy to just think Will did not like to have anything wet touching his skin, but the way he would throw his arms back and smile made it look as though he was just proud to show off his stuff. It was so funny.
Will also grunted and growled all the the time. I actually called him “grunt head.” He would be smiling at you all the while grunting and growling.
This was the one thing that gave me hope that somehow this pretty boy would be a linebacker instead of a quarterback.
Michelle and I are so grateful of the technology that is available these days. As crazy as it may sound, we are so grateful for our iPhones. We bought our iPhones a little over a moth after Will was born, ironically as belated Mother’s Day and Father’s Day presents.
You see, given that Will was our third born, we did not get our normal cameras out nearly as much as we did with the first born.
It gives us pause now to think why we ever thought it such a burden to get the big camera out of its case.
But we had our iPhones. And as a result, we got some amazing images and videos that we now treasure so much more than we could have ever imagined.
These images and especially the videos are now so therapeutic for Michelle, me, and our boys.
I know it might be hard for some of you to watch because Will has now passed away, but Michelle and I feel it is so important to share one of our treasures with you so that you leave here today remembering him as we do.
Wendy, could you please play the video …
See what I mean? Will was beautiful.
I am now going to share with you things about Will’s death that Michelle and I think are important.
The fact Will was our third child enabled Michelle and I to have some sense of what was normal when having children. In hindsight, there are things which really stood out from Will’s short life which now give us both comfort and pause.
Will was born on May 11, his Great-Grandfather Chuck’s birthday, and he died on July 31, his Great-Grandfather Matt’s birthday.
Ironically, Will’s middle name Matthew is in honor of Great-Grandpa Matt who would have had a birthday the day Will died.
In the first days following Will’s death, I struggled with the idea of whether Will’s spirit in heaven was Will the baby or Will the man he was to become.
I desperately wanted to talk with the man he was to become.
It might sound strange, but as an entrepreneur and business man, I got peace from the vision of Will the man handing me his first business card.
I envisioned him being so proud of the enterprise he was building and the difference he was making for the world.
I ended up settling on the notion that Will’s spirit is paradoxically what I needed it to be at the moment I thought of him; sometimes as a baby, sometimes the man, and I love to talk with him in heaven.
Michelle and I believe it is important for you to know that the Coroner ruled our son died from something called SIDS. It stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Based on what we have learned of SIDS in the past several days, nothing currently known could have been done to save him. It was just his time.
Michelle and I count the fact Will died from SIDS as one of the significant blessings associated with this profound loss. It gives us comfort to know that Will died a peaceful death.
Will dying from SIDS also gives us pause in that it was so far out of everyone’s control.
When coupled with his unplanned birth, Will’s unplanned death truly makes us wonder if we are receiving an important signal of God’s greater plan for Will and our family.
We are so thankful for the incredible outpouring of financial support to help our family. It is humbling.
We are committed to doing something important to support those who are impacted by SIDS. While we are not yet certain how this mission will unfold, we are recording this eulogy to provide the option of using it later.
We think it is important for you to know that Will died at our babysitter’s home during his afternoon nap. This was only the third time Will had been to the babysitter, and that even upon learning of Will’s death, neither Michelle bro I ever suspected her of any wrong doing.
In fact, and quite to the contrary, Michelle and I want you to know we feel so grateful that Will was with our babysitter the day he died.
She is an amazing woman with an amazing family. Neither she nor her beautiful home deserve the burden they now bare for us. But they know we are eternally grateful.
Earlier this week we stopped using the word “tragic” to describe the loss of Will. It is not a “tragic loss,” it is indeed a profound loss, but there are far too many good things occurring as a result of our son’s death for it to be described as “tragic.”
Michelle and I think it is important for you to know two of Will’s heart valves were able to be harvested through organ donation.
We count this as a significant blessing associated with our profound loss. It gives us great peace to live with the possibility that Will’s short life saved the lives of two other small babies.
Earlier I mentioned that we believe God has had a special plan for Will all along. But it is important to Michelle and I that you know that we do not believe God caused Will’s death.
We want you to know that we believe God came to us in comfort only after the death of baby Will.
We want you to know that throughout this whole ordeal in losing baby Will, we have not experienced any anger towards God.
In fact, and quite to the contrary, we feel fortunate to be able to see many of the significant blessings associated with the loss of our son, and our faith in God has never been stronger.
The power of prayer has been palpable for Michelle and I throughout this entire week.
Years ago, as a student at Ohio State, I was fortunate to meet others from a wide variety of religious backgrounds.
I believe the thing I found most profound was that despite all the obvious differences, prayer seemed to be the one constant commonality.
As a people throughout the world I have seen that we are all for the most part raised believing in the power of prayer. And I think that one the whole most of us believe that use this gift as liberally as God intended.
But ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you today as a stronger man to give testament to the awesome power of this under-utilized resource.
Do not fall into the trap of believing God somehow has limited capacity, and please never underestimate what a network of people united in prayer can accomplish.
I personally want you to know that Will’s death has shown me many things that I have taken for granted.
A great example of this is the network of great people which constitute our families and friends. It was humbling for Michelle and I to see the hundreds, if not the thousands, of people who were able to make it to Will’s showing yesterday.
It is humbling for us to see the loved ones who dropped everything and drove days to be here just for us. It is humbling to go to the mailbox and see the door open because it is so full of sympathy cards.
And it makes me a little uncomfortable to hear people talk about how well we are doing, because we would never have made it this far without you.
Another important thing I have taken for granted are my boys and my wife. I am a better father and husband today than at this time last week.
I want you to know last Thursday baby Will could not sleep … I was supposed to be cutting the grass, but because he could not sleep, I held him and we rocked in my lazy boy watching TV instead.
While I enjoyed that time, I kept thinking about what I needed to get done around the house, and as a result, I had no idea how valuable that moment was until Will died the next day.
That moment was the last time I held my boy when he was alive.
My hope is that sharing this small part of my story will be especially helpful for you fathers in the audience.
I think as men we are often so driven towards accomplishments and our various manly vices that we mistakenly treat time with our children as one more thing to check off the list or some kind of burden that gets in the way of whatever it is we need to go do.
I would wager that even those of you who are not guilty of this probably are also not providing or receiving the full value from your role with your children.
I am, without question, a better father today than I was prior to Will’s death.
It is unfortunate that it took the death of my best looking son to jolt me into action, but thankfully, it did, and I pray that it does not take such a jolt for you to become the man and father you aspire to be.
Before I get to the special request from our family, I want to share with you one final thing about Will’s death.
Michelle and I feel it is important for you to know that we do not want to “move on”. It is important for you to know that we want to “move forward”.
We will always be the same people; we just have a profound new perspective on life.
Upon receiving the call informing me that Will had died, it was instantly clear to me that forward was the only way out. We learn from this, somehow become better people, move forward, and Will would always be with us.
I would like to now conclude with a special request from our family.
We want you to know that we pray with the boys every night at bedtime.
Our prayer follows a set pattern: first we ask for blessings, then we spend time giving thanks (we help the boys participate and we end up giving thanks for some of the neatest things), then we always conclude the same way, and we play it up quite a bit to make it fun for the boys like this:
God, please help Daddy and Mommy make good decisions, and please help Sam, Nate, and Baby Will grow up to be grea——-t men. Thank you. Amen. Alri———ght.
We’ll often then give each other high fives, or great big “giant” hugs, and we laugh.
As a Dad, one of my favourite things to ask kids is: “What are you going to be when you grow up?”
This past week I thought a lot about what Will may have become when he grew up.
I think it is the hope of every father that their children become something great. You consider all kinds of possibilities: maybe he’ll be a great entrepreneur, Senator, or President. Maybe he’ll be a great solider.
Or perhaps he would be a great police officer that did not think twice about performing CPR on the body of an infant, or a paramedic who sat steadfast with a family as they held the body of their little boy and wept.
He might even have become a great paediatrician that personified everything healthcare is supposed to be.
Or maybe even a great babysitter who took such care of kids that they often wanted to stay at her house instead of their own.
Or maybe he would take after his Great-Grandfather Matt and become a great funeral director who turned on a night light in the room where the little boy’s body lived while it awaited its final resting place so that symbolically the boy was not afraid.
It is therapeutic for me to consider what positive impact Will might have made on the world.
Like others who grieve, we are desperate to find meaning in the life which was lost.
Michelle and I believe that the only way this death makes any sense is if it forces others to discover or recommit themselves to the things in their own lives which will make a positive impact on the world.
In addition, we feel that our little boy has provided us a powerful example of accomplishment in just two short months of life, and that his accomplishments serve as a challenge for all of us to try and live up to.
In conclusion, Michelle and I feel it is important to draw a distinction between saying and doing.
The death of our son has caused us all to take pause, and as a result, many of us are committed to making some positive changes in our own life.
This gives Michelle and I peace, and we are grateful.
But the number of you who WILL actually take action as a result of what you now feel is entirely out of our hands. It is now in your hands.
I am certain that Michelle and I WILL see each of you many times in the future, and there is little doubt that when we meet you will often recall the loss of Baby Will.
It is our solemn wish that when you do think of us, you also force yourself to consider one very important work: ACTION.
It is not enough for you to leave here today committed to making a positive change in your own life. It is not enough for you to talk about making a positive change with your spouse, your children, your brother, your sister, or your pastor.
We are asking you to thoughtfully consider what it is you WILL do to make a difference, write it down, and then do it.
Michelle and I do not care what you do, or what aspect of the world you try to improve. We just want you to take ACTION.
When you leave this holy temple today, we ask that each of you, children and adults, take one of Baby Will’s business cards. And that sometime this week, you write down on that card one thing you WILL do.
This is for you to keep. If you take more than one card, or you write on it and send it back to us, you are missing the point. Will had some business to take care of, and Will’s card is for you.
In the end, we are hopeful that everyone jolted by the death of such a young child actually TAKES ACTION in making a difference, that the gifts provided by our little boy WILL will have an exponential effect.
God bless you, and thank you so much for helping us in our hour of greatest need.
By Nathan Hurd at Baby Will, a nonprofit organization founded following the death their baby son in 2009.
Example 2: Son’s Eulogy For His Father
Before he died, my father asked me to talk about one aspect of his life. He asked me to talk about his Christian faith. I promised him I would.
As I started to jot down a few things I might say about my father’s Christian faith, I wondered: Was there a single word—a single adjective—that would best describe my father’s faith?
“Remarkable” was an option. My father’s faith was certainly remarkable. Anyone who met him could tell you that.
“Consistent” was another option. My father’s faith was absolutely a consistent faith. He lived it, with honor, day in and day out.
But while both of those adjectives are true—while my father’s faith was both remarkable and consistent—the adjective that stuck with me, that I think best describes my father’s Christian faith, is “genuine.” My father was a genuine Christian.
If you take a moment to look up the word “genuine” in a dictionary, you’ll find that it means several things.
It means “actual.” It means “true” … “sincere” … “free from hypocrisy or pretense.”
When something or someone is genuine, they are “produced by or they proceed from the [original] source.”
So when I say my father was a genuine Christian, I mean this: His Christianity was without hypocrisy or pretense. It was produced by and it proceeded from the original source: from Christ.
I’m comfortable making that claim, I’m confident attaching the word “genuine” to my father’s Christianity, because I have been a first-hand witness to how he lived his life.
I have also heard the testimony of others who witnessed how my father lived his life. And based on that knowledge, I’d like to share with you today three passages of scripture from the New Testament, all of them from the Gospels: the books that tell the story of Jesus.
After I share each of these passages, I will talk briefly about relevant aspects of my father’s life, and when I’m done, I trust there will be no doubt in this room, there will be no question in any of your minds, that my father was not only a Christian, but that he lived a genuine Christian life.
The first passage I’d like to read today is from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 22, verses 35 through 39: … an expert in the law tested [Jesus] by asking, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment.
The second is like it: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’
My father honored both of those commandments. Now, I realize it’s difficult to prove that my father honored the first of those commandments; that he loved God with all his heart and soul and mind.
He told me he did, as he told anyone who would listen to him. And I believed him.
But how do I prove what he believed to others?
Every day on this planet, billions of people say things they don’t really mean.
And because people say things they don’t mean, it’s far too easy for all of us to become cynical; to mistrust each other; to demand some form of proof that the words we hear people say are true.
And that’s why I think Jesus tied the two great commandments together.
He knew it would be difficult for us to prove our love for God to the people around us because the people around us can never really know what’s in our hearts.
And so Jesus gave us a way to demonstrate our love for God. He gave us a way to move beyond statements to actions.
He did that by giving us the second greatest commandment: the opportunity to prove that we love God by demonstrating our love for the people around us.
And so I can prove that my father loved God because I saw my father act with love toward his neighbors.
I saw my father think and care about other people before he thought and cared about himself.
And who were my father’s neighbors? Everyone he met. His family, his friends, his colleagues. We were all my father’s neighbors.
After my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it surprised me how quickly he began to weaken; how quickly the cancer began to take its toll.
When that started to happen, there is not a single one of us who would have blamed my Dad if he had thought first about himself.
In fact, we would have told him, if he had listened to us, “Do what’s right for you, Dad. Don’t stretch yourself. Take it easy. Make you as comfortable as you can be before you leave us.”
But that was not my father. His first thought was not about himself or his comfort, but about his neighbors: his family and friends and colleagues.
He demonstrated his love for all of us in several ways. I’ll mention two.
First, his love for the people of this Church. Shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer, my father told his pastor that he wanted some time on a Sunday night to share with the members of this church the lessons that he, my father, had learned during his life.
His pastor said “Absolutely. You tell us when, and we’ll make it happen.”
And so, in early January, my father—getting weaker by the day—gathered up strength he didn’t have, ignored the discomfort he felt, and made his way up these steps to sit in a chair, right about here, and share with the people of this church the lessons he had learned during his life.
My father didn’t do that for his own benefit.
He didn’t do that out of love for himself. He did that out of love for this congregation. He did that because he loved his neighbors more than he loved himself.
In similar fashion, my father ignored his disease to make sure that before he died, his wife, our mother, was taken care of: that the finances were in order; that she knew where to find the things she’d need when he was no longer around.
He did the same for us, his children, our spouses, and his grandchildren.
Throughout the entire time he was dying, my father was loving his family more than he loved himself.
Now, these simple acts may not sound like that much to you. But you have to understand, even these simple acts required strength my father didn’t have.
They required reading and writing, concentration and focus—tasks that we all take for granted, but tasks that became more difficult for my father with every passing day.
Even last Sunday, a week ago today, when my father could hardly move himself up in his bed; when he had a very difficult time staying awake for more than a few minutes: I was standing there when he told my mother he wanted to help her check and balance their banking statement, one more time.
I told him: “Dad, Mom’s a smart woman. I think she can do this. And if she has a problem, I can help her.”
He responded: “I just want to go over it with her one more time, to make sure.”
Now, he never got to do that. He never had a chance to complete that one last act of love.
The cancer had essentially won the battle at that point. But that’s not what matters.
What matters is the fact that my father tried to complete that last act of love. He had every excuse in the book to think first about himself, but he didn’t.
Instead, all the way until the end, he obeyed the greatest commandments: he demonstrated his love for God by loving others, by putting others before himself.
The second passage I’d like to read today is also from the Gospel of Matthew, this time from Chapter 25, verses 31 through 40.
This passage starts with Jesus speaking. He said: … when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? … when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
The King will answer and say to them, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.
That was my father.
I can’t count the number of times someone told me that my father gave a generous gift to someone who needed it.
There is not a list long enough to capture the names of all of “the least of these” who benefited from my father’s time and talent and treasure.
In fact, I imagine some of those people are sitting in this room today. Even in his profession, my father was compelled to care for the least of these.
In one of our many conversations during his final months, my father told me that he knew he could have been a richer man.
My father was not a poor man, but he was convinced he could have been even more wealthy, if he had taken the relatively small tax preparation business that he and my mom had started … and expanded it; opened an office outside the home; hired staff, taken on more clients — and yes, made more money.
He knew he could have done all of that.
But he told me that he didn’t do all of that for two reasons.
First, he didn’t want to take the time away from his family. Second, he knew he couldn’t bring himself to charge people what he needed to charge them to make a business expansion viable.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of my father’s tax clients, I’m sure, could have paid more than he charged them.
But there were also many, I suspect, who could not pay more; whose only option for professional help on their taxes were my parents.
And my dad knew that. So he kept his prices low, charging far less than he and my mom deserved—and in some cases, I’m sure, he charged nothing at all.
He did that deliberately and gladly, knowing full well that by under-charging his clients, he was foregoing the opportunity to add wealth to his home.
But it didn’t matter. It was yet another way that my father tried to care for those less fortunate than him.
The third and final passage I’d like to read today is from the Gospel of John, Chapter 4, verses 5 through 9:
Jesus came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the piece of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s Well was also there, and Jesus, tired out by the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink,” since his disciples had gone off into town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman asked him, “How can you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”
In that simple act—stopping at that well and chatting with this woman—Jesus shattered two social conventions of his time.
It was taboo in Jesus’ day for a man to sit down with a woman who was not his wife and talk with her, one-on-one, in a public place.
It was also taboo for a Jew to speak with a Samaritan. But Jesus didn’t care.
To him, this woman’s gender and her background were not important. The only thing that mattered to Jesus was that this woman was a person, like any other person, who deserved to be treated with dignity and respect.
In this way, too—as I’ve learned only recently—my father emulated Jesus.
In 1965, shortly after I was born, my father took a job at Monsanto.
Now, it’s important to remember what was going on in 1965. A year earlier, Congress had passed landmark legislation to help put an end to discrimination and advance civil rights in this country.
And a year before that, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. had delivered the speech in which he said: “I have a dream … I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
It would be nice to believe that Dr. King’s words in 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 combined to immediately put an end to discrimination in this country.
Sadly, that was not the case. In fact, there was such violent backlash to the Civil Rights Act and to Dr. King that on April 4, 1968—41 years ago this week—Dr. King was gunned down and killed.
So let there be no doubt. In 1965, three years before Dr. King was killed, discrimination continued, too often and in too many places in this country.
If you don’t believe me, ask Cleo Collins. Cleo was also working at Monsanto in 1965. Cleo remembers how many of his white colleagues treated him: the averted glances; the condescending talk.
If Cleo is willing to remember those days, he’ll tell you that the laws might have changed, but the prejudice and disrespect were still there.
And then Cleo met my dad. Many years later, Cleo told my Mom that my father was one of the few, perhaps the only white man, who treated Cleo with the respect he deserved, who judged Cleo not on the color of his skin but on the content of his character.
There’s a reason Cleo Collins and my father remained lifelong friends. There’s a reason Cleo stopped by my parents’ home the morning my father died, without even knowing until he got there, that my father’s time on this planet was no more.
Cleo loved my dad, because my dad loved Cleo—because my dad did for Cleo effectively what Christ did when he stopped to speak, with respect, to a Samaritan woman.
Fast forward now, from 1965 to 2008, when a man named Barack Obama persuaded a solid majority of the people of this country to judge him on nothing more or less than the content of his character.
My father did not vote for Barack Obama. Their politics were far too different. But unlike some so-called Christians, my father never spoke ill of Barack Obama.
In fact, after Obama was elected, my father told me, “He’s now my President, too. And I will respect him and I will pray for him as he leads this country.”
There’s more to the story than that. When my father learned that his oldest grandson had used his first-ever vote for President to help elect Barack Obama, my father was not disappointed.
He didn’t scold my son or tell him he had cast the wrong vote. To the contrary, my father openly, proudly told anyone who would listen that his oldest grandson had voted for Barack Obama.
I think my father was proud of my son’s vote, not because he agreed with his vote, but because he saw in my son’s vote a familiar story: the story of one person judging another person on the content of his character; nothing more and nothing less.
For these reasons, I know my father was a genuine Christian: because he demonstrated his love for God by loving others more than himself; because he took time to help those less fortunate; and because he freely gave the people he met the respect they deserved, whether or not they looked like him or thought like him or voted like him.
My father was a genuine Christian. And it’s my hope today that his example will motivate all of us, starting with me, to live our lives more like he did.
By Pete Abel of The Moderate Voice.
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