Writing a Eulogy

There comes a time when we have to write a Eulogy.Writing a eulogy can be very healing and of course painful. Losing someone we loved is not an enjoyable part of life.

memorial eulogy, memorial reading and funeral eulogy are really the same thing.

Eulogy by definition means-a formal expression of praise for someone who

has recently died. 

Some ideas are to include what that person meant to you, what you learned from that person, what that person was about, what that person loved about life, people, work, family, what you will miss the most and anything else that you feel is worth mentioning.

It can be short or long, depending on how much time you would like to spend speaking. You can put a touch of humor if you like. I found it broke the heaviness of the room and everyone was able to smile for a moment. Remember to write from the heart and what will come out on paper will be perfect. Practicing is a great way to get you to relax.

I have included my mom's memorial reading that I read at her service as an example. Of course I was not able to read it straight without crying every other sentence, but then I would stop, take a breathe and continue. My mom always taught me that we have to finish what we start, regardless of how painful it is.
One of her favorite expressions was "pull up your big girl panties and finish the job"

Julie Berchtold's mother Margie Berchtold's memorial reading on 9/20/2008
Good morning, I’m Julie Berchtold, and I want to thank all of you for being here today to celebrate the amazing life of my mom, Marg Berchtold.

As I was writing a eulogy for my mom, I took a lot of time and thought about what I would say about sweet mother, I realized I would have two significant challenges – the first, and most obvious one, is whether I would really be able to do it – but I know that mom is watching over us and will help me get through it. 

The second challenge was how I could adequately describe my mom with words – since mom’s life was so much more about her actions and the incredible example that she set for my brother, Brian and me, and for all of those who knew her. 

Throughout our lives, and most recently in how she faced her illness the past two years, mom showed us time and time again what it meant to live with strength…integrity…and grace. Mom did not just “talk the talk” – she “walked the walk” – even when she could no longer get out of bed. 

At one point a few weeks ago, when I was telling mom how much she meant to me, and that I would be able to carry on because of all she had taught me - she turned to me and said: “Its not about the illness ….” As I leaned in to hear the wise words and the meaning of life that I was sure would follow next – she closed her eyes, and took a nap. 

At the time, I was disappointed that she hadn’t finished the thought – but then I realized that she actually had. When I think about my mom, it really wasn’t about the illness – it was the way she responded to it that mattered and that I will always remember. I later found a passage she wrote that summarized her thoughts: “Keep my finger pressed down on the happy button, no matter what is going on around me.” That is what Stamie and I will share with our three children: Jagger, Nikos, and Dautry - when they face life’s difficulties, to respond just like Grammie.

While I was going through mom’s large stack of letters and notes last week, I found a card that I wrote to her last December, which I’d like to share with you this morning:

“Mom, when I write cards, I always think of one of the best lessons you taught me; make cards, don’t buy them. […needless to say, I never got away with a last minute store bought card growing up ] … “So, Mom, have I told you lately that you are my hero? You are taking on life with such fever and vengeance … what an example for everyone. It is really impressive, and I am proud to be your daughter. They say you can’t pick your family, but I would have picked you.” 

In so many ways, it didn’t feel like it was the right time for mom to leave this life. I mean, I still have the rest of my life that I was planning to ask her for advice and for her to gently remind me how special I am. I wanted her to be here to walk me through motherhood with my kids, and for her to see what else I will become, and to guide me through that too, like a mom does. I also know that my brother and Vanessa will miss her support and comfort, as they continue to deal with the pain of losing a son.I realize though, that the time was exactly right for mom to go – after she had faced her weaknesses and become strong. She left us at a time when she had been at full capacity to give and receive love – which is reflected by the large number of people that she has touched, so many of whom are here today. There is no doubt that our mom has left this world a far better place because of her presence and her beautiful perspective.

We can all carry on mom’s memory by remembering to appreciate a dry sense of humor, to laugh often, to appreciate art and the incredible beauty of the world around us, to move through life trusting our instincts and, as the bracelets we wear reflecting mom’s mottos say: “Be Kind, Be Honest, and Learn Forgiveness.” I searched her books (with underlined messages) and read her most recent personal notes to herself, about how she wanted to live life after learning of her illness, which I think is a good reminder for all of us: 

• Be the person of my dreams today – Walk it today.
• Just do your best – it is always enough.
• Have the courage to be yourself – be led by joy.
• Take time for relaxation – its ok to chill out - having fun is a priority. 
• Have a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing.

On one of my recent visits, I looked into the mirror that mom had looked into each day for so many years, and I wondered if I was enough of her reflection to carry on her white flame through the rest of my life. If so, it would be my most honorable achievement. 

On the airplane coming up from LA to visit mom for the last time, I thought that if there was a way to take the pain away from our loss, it would be thinking of mom rising to the top of the waves and splashing through to her next purpose. I know she will take that on with the same determination as she had done in this life.

I would like to conclude my comments about mom with a quote from a book called “What is Spirit?,” which I found near her bedside after she had passed on:

“It was through my mother’s death that I learned what Spirit is and found peace at last. She was not at all afraid at the end, and neither was I. I held her hand as she slipped away and knew that she was only leaving the Earth. She would never leave me. Her spirit is as familiar to me now, and as

When mom passed, there was a candle by her bedside that blew out at the very same moment she took her last breath. I have brought that same candle and I have also brought a new candle which I will light to represent the circle of life.

Finally, I know that mom would like me to say a few words about dad – who has been such an incredible care giver and support to mom (and us) through this entire time – you truly have been an inspiration to all of us. Mom thought so, too, and she wrote it in her gratitude notes:

(Quote:) “Thanks for Jim…for taking care of me. He is a God send and could not be more supportive. A lesson to me. What would I do without him?” (End Quote) Dad, I feel the exact same way. 

There is one more thing that has been on my mind. I was thinking of how modest mom was about her achievements and how she brought so much joy to so many of us and I don’t think she fully understood her gifts. So I would like all of us to stand at this time and give my mom a standing ovation. I know she will hear it.

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