• Coordinate airport arrivals with available drivers
• Borrow church’s folding chairs
• Pick out Mom’s outfit
• Choose someone for eulogy
With immediate family notified, there wasn’t time to spare. Hundreds would attend the funeral, to mourn, show respect, and express gratitude one last time. She’d touched many lives. Her children and grandchildren grew-up sharing her with others. The funeral would be no exception. Private services weren’t an option.
It had been a long day. Leaving just before Christmas complicated matters, adding hours of driving time. Mingled with my tears was frustration for living too far to help. I wished I’d seen my grandmother one last time. Too pressured to grieve, I held back my tears.
When we arrived at the Funeral Home, the main lobby and viewing rooms were crowded. Barely halfway through the room, before greeting my parents, my uncle pulled me aside.
“Glad you made it safely. Has anyone talked to you yet about tonight?”
“Sorry we’re late. Traffic was bad. Talk to me about what?”
“About saying a few words before the pastor speaks,” he explained.
“No.” I was confused.
Continuing, he said, “We’ve talked about it since last night. Nobody’s up to doing the eulogy. You’re the first grandchild so we figured it should be you. During dinner we’ll give you details.”
I remember thinking, That’s not how I want to spend the dinner break. I want to see my sisters. What the heck do I know about writing a eulogy? I wish they’d have given me more notice.
Reluctantly, I asked the Funeral Director for a notepad. I gathered pertinent facts, favorite memories, and tidbits of information I’d never known about my grandmother from everyone I could. That was easy. Praying for wisdom, I creatively tried to weave the pieces together while adding a message of hope. That was hard. With barely minutes to go, I continued writing what I knew she’d want said. It’s who she was.
With an enormous lump in my throat, I spoke the final words of my tribute. Muffled sobs broke the silence as the pastor and I exchanged places. Taking the podium he commented, “I don’t ever want to follow her again. If she does another eulogy and I’m to speak, I go first!” The audience’s response confirmed the day’s anointing.
Bereaved loved ones surrounded me after the pastor’s closing prayer. Their comments and encouragement were overwhelming. Earlier, when first approached, I was resistant, upset, and nervous. Suddenly I felt at peace, actually happy. God allowed me to give one last gift to my grandmother. I knew she was proud and happy. I could see her sweet smile looking down on me.
A new family tradition emerged that day. I’m the family eulogy writer.
One doesn’t dream of being a eulogy writer. It just happens. Now I’ve a long list of requests… pre-bookings you might say. Some believe I need to start a eulogy writing business. Tough logo to design, don’t you think?
After a eulogy, it’s always interesting. Those regretting how they messed-up their life will ask me to make them sound better than they really were, when giving their eulogy. I simply answer, “live good, and I’ll tell good; don’t, and I won’t. You gotta give me the material to write about.”
They’ll jest, “Hey, I tried. I’ll trust you to do your best.” I see the sadness in their eyes.
The most difficult eulogies were for loved ones that didn’t accept Jesus as their Savior. My grandmother’s faith was strong, her life devoted and full, the eulogy wrote itself. The unbelievers however, they broke my heart and almost left me speechless.
What are you leaving for your eulogy writer? Will they be happy to oblige or overwrought with sadness at the prospect? Are you living inspiring anecdotes? Is your life worthy of honor and recognition? Will witnesses confirm your righteousness?*
It’s never too late to change the final chapters. Live a remarkable, happy eulogy for those you leave behind.
*Psalm 112 (NIV)
1)Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.
2) His children will be mighty in the land;the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3) Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
4) Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.
5) Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.
6) Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.
7) He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
8) His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
9) He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor.
10) The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.
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