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Need help with eulogy(17 posts)

Need help with eulogyDale Brigham
Jan 31, 2003 8:27 AM
Fellow Cyclists:

I need help from the literary-minded (and the musically-inclined) on this discussion board in preparing a eulogy for my recently-deceased sister, Elaine. She was an avid cyclist, scuba diver, skier, pilot, and outdoorswoman. Her obituary can be linked to here: http://lubbockonline.com/stories/010503/obi_010503064.shtml

I am looking for a poem or other reading appropriate for the upcoming memorial service (Feb. 15) that captures the spirit of my sister (a fearless adventurer), as well as the loss my family and our friends and relations are feeling. I hope to find something that is sort of a mix between "To an athlete dying young" and "Death be not proud." In essence, a balance between the grief over a life cut short and the celebration of a life well-lived.

In addition to the memorial service, my friends and I are planning a memorial ride the day after the service. I hope to make that a special event, and I seek remarks or readings in the same genre.

I have searched (mainly the bartleby.com website) in vain for the right poem(s) and/or passage(s), and that is why I am asking for your help. Any and all submissions, either to this board or to my email address (brighamdmo@hotmail.com), will be gratefully received and carefully considered.

Finally, I have been asked to suggest a song or two (either recorded or one that could be performed by a vocalist) that would be suitable for the memorial service, which will take place in a Methodist church. Elaine had wide musical tastes -- including Jimmy Buffett, Neil Young, The Who, and Sheryl Crow -- which encompassed over three decades of artists and songs. Any suggestions in this regard are likewise most appreciated.

I would not be making this request if I did not have considerable respect and affection for those of you who post to this board. There is much individual and collective wisdom here, and I hope to tap into that knowledge base in this instance. If you find this to be an inappropriate request for this venue, I apologize and beg your pardon.

Thank you for your kind attention. You would have liked Elaine. With your help, we can celebrate her life in a way that she would have liked, and that each of us would want for ourselves.

Best Regards,

Dale
speak from the heartDougSloan
Jan 31, 2003 8:37 AM
I had to do this last year for my deceased father in law. I started looking for something prepared, such as you are, but then changed my mind. I told stories that sort of chronicled his life, with some general themes througout, involving the people who I knew would be at the funeral, tying the stories together as I went. I spoke about meeting his wife in Italy during WWII, raising his children (one of whom I married, obviously), starting a business, knowing he had a grand son on the way, and fighting off cancer for several years (literally fighting with nurses to escape the hospital). People were laughing and crying at the same time. It seemed to work then. I think I'd prefer that to reading something.

Doug
Sound advice. Thank you, Doug! -- nmDale Brigham
Jan 31, 2003 9:12 AM
For pilots...mohair_chair
Jan 31, 2003 8:55 AM
There is a poem that applies to pilots that you will sometimes hear at funerals:

High Flight
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

One of the few Presidential speeches I remember was a gem given by Reagan after the Challenger disaster. The final line is so memorable, and incorporates parts of the poem above.

http://www.townhall.com/hall_of_fame/reagan/speech/challeng.html
Great poem! Many thanks, MC! -- nmDale Brigham
Jan 31, 2003 9:10 AM
little eerie to have posted this just yesterday nmDougSloan
Feb 1, 2003 3:38 PM
My condolences Dale. Through your description and the obituary, Elaine seems an extraordinary and accomplished women. I think Doug makes some very good points on coming up with a good eulogy. I couldn't think of any poems but I keep a number of quotes handy on life, living, and death. I found a few more on the web including some links to some good modern quote websites. In my experience, Bartleby quotes are usually a little antiquated. "A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives" - Jackie Robinson "Life is a book, and those who don't travel read only one page" - St. Augustine They are not gone who live in the hearts they left behind. ~Native American proverb "I refuse to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death..." I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 "I take nothing for granted. I now have only good days, or great days." Lance Armstrong "The only lesson one must learn in life is how to lose." Emil Cioran All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier. -Walt Whitman (Song of Myself) Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold. Ralph Waldo Emerson It is not length of life, but depth of life. Ralph Waldo Emerson The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. Mark Twain All say, "How hard it is that we have to die" - a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live. Mark Twain The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. Henry David Thoreau Helping Create a Meaningful Eulogy http://www.millsfuneralhome.com/griefsupport/eulogy.htm Collection of particular good quotes on many topics: http://aiesec.org/ro/Trainings%20Library/Inspirations/life.html http://www.brainyquotes.comjs5280
Jan 31, 2003 12:03 PM
approved
See repost below. . .js5280
Jan 31, 2003 12:06 PM
RBR seems to be a little wacky today. . .
Due to "a ghost in the machine," perhaps... -- nmDale Brigham
Jan 31, 2003 1:07 PM
re: Need help with eulogyjs5280
Jan 31, 2003 12:05 PM
Wow, how'd that happen? Here's a repost that more readable.

My condolences Dale. Through your description and the obituary, Elaine seems an extraordinary and accomplished women. I think Doug makes some very good points on coming up with a good eulogy. I couldn't think of any poems but I keep a number of quotes handy on life, living, and death. I found a few more on the web including some links to some good modern quote websites. In my experience, Bartleby quotes are usually a little antiquated.

"A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives"
- Jackie Robinson

"Life is a book, and those who don't travel read only one page"
- St. Augustine

They are not gone who live in the hearts they left behind.
~Native American proverb

"I refuse to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death..."

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

"I take nothing for granted. I now have only good days, or great days."
Lance Armstrong

"The only lesson one must learn in life is how to lose." Emil Cioran

All goes onward and outward,
nothing collapses,
And to die is different
from what anyone supposed, and luckier.
-Walt Whitman (Song of Myself)

Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is not length of life, but depth of life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
Mark Twain

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die" - a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
Mark Twain

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
Henry David Thoreau

Helping Create a Meaningful Eulogy
http://www.millsfuneralhome.com/griefsupport/eulogy.htm

Collection of particular good quotes on many topics:
http://aiesec.org/ro/Trainings%20Library/Inspirations/life.html

http://www.brainyquotes.com
Thanks, JS, for these fine quotes and your kind words! -- nmDale Brigham
Jan 31, 2003 1:04 PM
I'm sorry, Dale. She looks to have been a wonderful woman.bill
Jan 31, 2003 2:27 PM
Eulogies are about the departed to some extent, but they really are mostly about the remaining. The single wisest thing ever said in the history of man, is, "Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."
Everyone wants to feel the connection to the celebrated life as well as to the others present. This may not be a whole lot of specific help, but it's something I've thought about as I've sat through something like six funerals in the past year, including my forty-one year old sister-in-law. Funerals are tough, but they are real and they are about what it means to be human. I would let that humanness be your guide.
The best parts of the best eulogies are first, as Doug said, from the heart. I really wouldn't worry about quotes, unless one jumps out that really says something about her or your relationship to her.
Echoing what Doug said, you want to include some history that others may not know, a couple of emblematic and maybe funny stories, and then what you admired in her and learned from her and took from her. Human stuff. Because everyone is feeling the same tug -- this is a person that contributed to my life, and the life of people I love, and my life would have been different without her because _______. It's the mundane stuff that really grabs.
I'm so sorry, dude. She's your sister, man. That's an intimate relationship.
I like her taste in music, but at my own funeral, I've already told my wife that I insist on Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." Loud and NOT ponderous. I want people to feel, baby.
Very fine advice. Thank you for your kindness, Bill. -- nmDale Brigham
Jan 31, 2003 4:34 PM
sorry to hear about your losseyebob
Jan 31, 2003 6:06 PM
I think that I'd echo what other's have said with one exeption. Many times our own grief can be best handled by grabbing it by the horns. If I may, I'd suggest that you make this a time for one last gift to her. Perhaps take the two weeks that you have to write your own poem or list of aphorisms. You know, this can be a healing event for you and those who grieve. Maybe request those close to her to write their own poem, collect them, and read them all at once, or as part of the story of her eulogy. Wayne Dyer wrote a book called Wisdom of the Ages which I thought for a pop-therapist was pretty well done. You may not find the deepest of insights in it, but it's a start, and every bookseller has a copy in stock.

For some reason, must be something in me, I'm thinking more about you and your relatives and friends and how this type of event can sway and change your level of reverence for your own mortality and you own life's path. Sorry if that's too selfish a thought at this time.

I'm also reminded of what a friend of mine once told me after returning to work a few weeks after her husband died in an auto accident. She said "Bob, always hug them and tell them that you love them, because you don't ever know when that'll be the last time that they get to hear it." It's probably not appropriate for your purposes, but I always think about how that line, echoed by a woman swamped with utter sorrow and how it's such a basic truth. I hope that you and yours are doing well this night. Hug 'em and tell 'em that you love 'em.

BT
BT, your insights are a gift. Muchas gracias, mi amigo! -- nmDale Brigham
Jan 31, 2003 9:52 PM
Sorry for your loss.Len J
Feb 1, 2003 7:09 AM
I too, like Doug, was recently in a position where I had to deliver a eulogy for someone very special in my life. At first, I wanted it to be perfect, eloquent, memorable, a real "Show stopp[er". On reflection, I remembered that the best eulogies that I had ever heard were those that allowed me, deep within my own grief, to see the person being eulogized the way they really were, to remember their humanness, and by remembering, honor them.

As somone else said, memorial services are for those left behind, not for the deceased. I grew up in a very Irish family. The Irish grieve as well or better than anyone else I know. An Irish wake, contrary to popular belief, revolves around storytelling, (alchachol is only a lubricant for the storytelling). If you wander around an Irish Wake, what you hear are hours & hours of stories about interactions with the deceased. There is laughter, tears, wistful looks, the entire range of emotions shared with the deceased during their life. I learned more about my Dad's history at his wake than I ever learned from him while he was alive. It was quite the gift.

I would suggest that instead of trying for a "literary" eulogy that you get in touch with the Elaine that you remember and share your memories about her. Don't just tell the flattering stories, but also the one's that show her humanness, the one's that touch on her essence. You will be, not only honoring her humnanity, but also prompting good memories within your audience. Don't be afraid to show the emotions these memories engender either, you will be giving permission to the audience to deal with their grief with you.

Remember that as long as her memory burns within you and as long as one of her actions changed someone else in this world, that she is not really gone, as her actions reverberate thru the world like ripples in a pond. I wish something I could say would help you in dealing with this hugh loss, but words as always are inadequate.

Trust your heart & your memory, speak honestly about the Elaine you remember and you will do fine.

Wishing you strength and healing

Len
Len, your words provide great comfort. Thanks, friend! -- nmDale Brigham
Feb 1, 2003 8:04 PM