We at Vision Newspaper are about informing our valued readers about things of value to better their lives. Knowledge, we are told is power. If this is indeed so then we are playing our part in seeing that our readers are so empowered. At some point in life’s journey, we will either attend a funeral, asked to give a eulogy or be eulogized.
What is this presentation all about?
At most funerals someone who has more than a passing acquaintance to the deceased is chosen to do the eulogy. This is usually the high point to a list of tributes. Some churches or denomination limit the tributes to not more three (tributes). maximum four. The eulogy is invariably never left out.
Too many tributes can give the impression that this solemn
event is a concert. It is only natural that many persons will want to speak. However, care has to be taken not to detract from the real purpose that loved ones and friends are gathered and to keep the funeral service not too lengthy.
A simple definition that can be easily understood is that a eulogy which is oftentimes mispronounced to sound like “eurology”…is really eulogy. The last statement or testament about a deceased. It usually is said as the last statement or tribute a lay person will give on a funeral programme. The sermon usually follows the eulogy.
A eulogy is supposed to paint the deceased in a good light. It is intended to be positive and to highlight the positive way in which the deceased impacted on the society during their life time. Why this individual will be missed, how difficult it will be to replace such an individual. For example the eulogist or presenter of the eulogy may wish to state the caring nature of the deceased. How he or she comforted a bereaved in their darkest hour. Their skills, special talent which has made life better for others. Their volunteering at say the boys and
girls club. Teaching illiterates to read. Being a sports coach as a volunteer. Visiting the sick and shut in and care for them. Serving in a soup kitchen for the less fortunate among us. Helping to prepare resumes to assist young job applicants to get employment. Volunteering at a seniors home etc.
The eulogy should be witty and reveal a not well knows insight into a side of the deceased that led the success of the person being eulogized.
A eulogy is never intended to be critical of the deceased or to put the deceased in an unfavourable light. Such an approach is unacceptable, if not in downright very poor taste. It is not an occasion to settle scores. It should be a feel good moment. Care must be taken to ensure this is in fact so. The first order of business is the person so selected. Educators seem to be the persons of choice. Someone with a good command of say the English language. A close relative who has more than passing knowledge of the deceased. The person so selected therefore should not be a stranger … only if there is no other choice. It could be read by someone duly selected after the necessary in-depth research in the life and times of say the deceased.
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (5th edition) page 344 describes a eulogy as: well (to speak). A discourse esp. a set oration in commendation of someone or something, as of the character and services of a deceased person; also a high praise; laudation, -Syn. See ENCOMIUM.
So if asked to do a eulogy, you have in this perspective some guidelines. Do your research so your presentation will be factual and witty. It is a great honour to be asked to eulogize someone. The last great act to honour an individual. Do go for it! It could be the high point of say, a funeral service.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior International Correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.