Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dealing with Grief

Losing a loved one is one of the most emotionally wrenching experiences of life. Often people have the strong impression that the feelings of saddness and emptiness will never go away. But time does heal those wounds. Then there are feelings of guilt because you have ceased to feel so terrible - as though your healing is some kind of betrayal of the one you loved and the relationship you had. 

It's not. Those feelings - the former and the latter are all perfectly normal.
 We are created with deep emotions but also with the mechanism to overcome those emotions once they have served their purpose.

Following are a few "myths" about the pain of loss that may be helpful:

MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
MYTH: It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
MYTH: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person.
           Source: Center for Grief and Healing

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

You Can Write a Eulogy

There are dozens of websites that give guidance on how to write a eulogy. And, for the most part, they are quite good. They all say basically the same things: 
1. Keep it brief. Typically from seven to ten minutes in length (that should come to around a thousand words).
2. Keep it Personal. Focus on the specific qualities of your loved one - share a story or two - humor is good. 
3. Keep it positive. Don't dwell on his or her negative attributes. 
4. Write it out. Public speaking from memory is often a formula for disaster or embarassment. 
5. Keep it in a conversational tone. Don't try to make it a formal "speech."

Good advice. The rub comes with two issues. Most of us are just not good writers. We can talk in conversation, but even the thought of writing something out is terrifying. We take out a pad of paper and a pen and suddenly we don't even know where to start. We've seen others do it so we know it can be done, but...

The second issue is time. From the time someone dies to the day of the funeral or memorial service the eulogy writer has about 72 hours. That seems like a long time unless there are other things that need to be done - and at times of crisis there always are.

It is probably terribly self serving, but I've got to say, the services of a professional eulogy writer can really save the day. We can collect information about your loved one from a form we supply and you email to us called  Collecting Memories  and have a wonderful eulogy back in your hands within twenty four hours. You look it over, make some changes yourself or give us a call and we will and, well within your time frame, you have something great to present.

By all means, write the eulogy yourself if you have the time and the talent and the temperament. It's therepeutic and a wonderful experience. But if it becomes a burden and a stress point during one of the most stressful periods of life, call in the professionals:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Sure, it's great to have a grandchild or a first cousin standing up to talk about you and your life after you're dead. They are honored to do it. Even if they need a little help from a professional eulogy writer they found online (, that's OK. But wouldn't it be better to write it yourself?

It may sound a bit macabre but think about it. YOU know what you want to be remembered for. YOU know what you thought about life and what things you truly enjoyed and who was most important to you. YOU remember all your struggles and accomplishments. Only YOU know you completely.

A number of years ago I officiated at a funeral for a man who was going through seminary. He was a "second career" man so he was older than most ministerial students. One of the assignments he had in one of his classes was to write his own funeral. I've got to say, it was the best eulogy I ever gave. HE wrote it. He said what he wanted to be said, and it took a tremendous burden off me and his family members.

Consider it. Write your own eulogy. Put it someplace safe. Tell your loved ones about it. It's a great gift to them - and to yourself.

Getting Started

A couple of months ago I attended a funeral - attended, didn't officiate - and saw something I had never seen before. There, on a table in the funeral home, was a folder with a picture of the deceased on it, along with his name. It was, really, quite nice. I picked one up and opened it to find a beautiful eulogy written interspersed with pictures of him living life. The eulogy was very similar to what I would have done if I had been officiating. I wondered what the minister would do to top this.

He didn't top it. In today's world where so many are non-religious and non-church goers, the minister didn't know the dearly departed. He mumbled a few generalities about his life and then invited a niece up to say a few words.  Carol told a few cute stories of her experiences with uncle George and people smiled and Carol had tears. She would later get kudos for what she did but no one would remember her words.

But everyone who took one of those folders will read about George's life and remember their own experiences with him. They will see the pictures and miss the man they knew and probably keep that folder around for weeks if not forever.

In fact, I still have that folder in my desk drawer even though I didn't know George. I was there to support a family member. Throwing such a piece in the trash seems almost sacrilegious.

I decided that day that I would become a eulogy writer. I would furnish Carols everywhere with words that would depict a life and, for creative funeral homes, I would provide a resource that will cause families to remember them and return for future needs.

I've written hundreds of eulogies over the years. If someone will give me information I can write a great one within a day and get it back to them for comments and revisions a few hours after that. I and a few others who have embraced the idea are "The Eulogy Writers" at