I Would Like to Have Your Eulogy Now, Please

Let’s Stop Saying “I never knew that!” About Someone We Just Lost

I do not wish to dampen anyone’s holiday spirits today but know that we are about to reflect on the loss of those close to us. But take heart! This is actually an upbeat discussion. You will like where we are at the end of this posting.

We recently had the bitter-sweet experience in a memorial service for an old friend. Bitter, of course, because of the loss. Sweet for all the wonderful, funny recollections brought forth. This was typical of such Unitarian Universalists gatherings. It was a celebration of life, not a mourning. There was a lot of laughter and many shared winks.

As usual, people said that they never knew some of the stories that shared at the memorial. How they would have liked to talk to the person we lost about that story!This happens to most of us. A few years ago, some of us were talking about this phenomenon. We decided to do something about it. I share this story with you now in the hopes you might pick up the same solution we built. It is a joyous thing.

We started a little group in our congregation. Our group name was would like to have your eulogy now, please.

The idea is a simple one.

We asked people to think about their lives and what they would like others to know and remember about them. Then they sat down with an interviewer and a small audience. They told their story. They related the high points and the low points. They told us what they thought was important to them about their lives. What inspired or wounded them.

Most were about 20 minutes or so in length. They were amazing. People had led lives we had no inkling of before these sessions. We videotaped the sessions. Videotaping allowed others to know the stories over time and enabled the featured person to share with others as they wished. Eventually, we found the opportunity to play back a person’s video at their memorial service. Talk about powerful stuff!

We moved away from that beloved community awhile back. I don’t know if this practice continues, but I hope it does. It was as enlightening and bonding an experience as one could imagine. This is worth doing.

I encourage you to think about a similar project. It could work in your congregation, community, CLUB, or any other group you choose. You can gain a whole new perspective on old friends and a new appreciation for the life they have lived so far.

The technology of movie cameras and smart phones make it easy to record with good quality. Practice a bit and you will shortly find what works best for you. Do a little light reading on how best to do such interviews. Listen to old editions of Story Corps or Fresh Air on PBS for tips on how to do it right.

OK, the idea is in your head now. Run with it. Propose it to your group(s) and prepare to be amazed. Have fun!

 Bill Clontz

If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do two things:

(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here.

(2) Share the word about this post with friends and colleagues. Share a link in your emails and social media posts. Let’s grow our circle.


4 replies to I Would Like to Have Your Eulogy Now, Please

  1. Excellent idea/suggestion! Some hospice volunteers will interview patients as an outlet for patients and a fantastic gift for family.

    • Oh, I had not thought about a hospice option. Of course. Brilliant!

  2. I have thought about doing a funeral video on my own. I think it might be a “fun” way to say goodby and thank folks for attending the memorial. A related plan is to video your parents talking about their past experiences and important memories before they pass away. I did this a couple of years before they both passed within six months of each other. The CD is a real family treasure.

    • Both great ideas, Jerry. I had a friend who did his own memorial service video, following a diagnosis of a very short time span remaining. It was an unbelievable gift to his friends and family – full of humor and reflections. I too have thought it would be smart to do something like this and update every so often.

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