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The Art of Giving a Eulogy…and More

Category: Family and Retirement

August 13, 2015 — One of the unpleasant aspects of being a baby boomer at this stage of our lives is realizing that our own mortality is inevitable, after all. Loved ones and dear friends are starting to pass on in growing numbers… some day we are pretty certain we will too. Dealing with that loss has many difficult aspects, so this article launches a series of how-tos on the subject., one of our favorite websites, had some great articles on the topic recently. We will add our thoughts to two of those here, and provide you with links to the full features at the end.

Giving the Perfect Eulogy
At some point you might be asked to speak at a funeral service for a friend or relative. Or you might be in charge of the arrangements, and have to decide who you want to talk.

If you are asked to speak here are some of the points you should keep in mind:
– Look for good stories that reveal the nature of the person. This makes it easier for you and more interesting for others
– Keep it about the deceased, not you
– Keep it short. End with people wanting to hear more
– Write it out, and read it several times to someone so you are less prone to stumble

– Think about opening with an icebreaker – a funny story about the person or you and the person together. We were at a service last week and the bereaved husband was very nervous about breaking down. But thanks to the amusing story about his wife he opened with, he not only broke the ice with the mourners, but got himself off on a positive track.

If you are in charge of the arrangements, it will be pretty clear who should speak. Pick people who illustrate different aspects of the deceased. If someone who is nervous, but important to the story, you can always ask them to delegate the reading to another.

Writing Your Own Obituary
After reading the NexAvenue article we agree – writing your own obit is not as narcissistic as it sounds. There are plenty of good reasons to pen your own, including:
– Nobody knows the facts better than you
– It takes pressure off your loved ones
– It is an opportunity to reflect upon your life – have you been the person you wanted to be, or said or done the things you had hoped for. It’s not too late – there is time to add these to your obit!

Next up
Future articles in this series will include topics like estate planning, getting your affairs in order, etc. If you have topic ideas, please let us know. Yes, it is a morbid topic, but we fervently believe that talking about the inevitable is much better than saddling our loved ones with burdens they shouldn’t have to carry.

For further reading:
5 Good Reasons to Write Your Own Obituary
How to Give the Perfect Eulogy

Comments? Have you had experiences, good or bad, with delivering a eulogy? Have you written your own obituary, or are you considering it? Let your fellow members know in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on August 12th, 2015


  1. Difficult topic. Writing your own obituary is a good tip, keeping in mind that you don’t actually need an obituary at all. (Having recently been through the death of a spouse, it was helpful to have an obit pre-written, so that I didn’t have to come up with one quickly.)

    This is just one part of pre-planning. I’m sure people have very strong feelings about everything related to this topic. Funeral arrangements can be incredibly expensive (pre-paid arrangements can be excluded from Medicaid buy-down). Funerals are an opportunity for loved ones to gather, and to celebrate a life. Some families don’t see each other except for weddings and funerals, so they are important to cement family relationships. And
    there are religions that require certain funeral arrangements, and have not yet accepted cremation. If retiring in a location away from family, decisions might also have to be made funeral and burial plans. A friend held two funerals for his Mom — one where she died, and another memorial service in the town where she had lived for 50 years.

    On the other hand, many people feel that funerals are the ultimate waste of money, which can be better used by the living, whether a spouse, children, or a charity. I admit that I’m coming around to this point of view, which was my husband’s strong belief.

    I’ll be interested in these blogs. Morbid, perhaps, but having been through it recently I understand how relevant this topic is to senior-life and retirement planning.

    by Kate — August 13, 2015

  2. Important topic.

    If you haven’t read this poem, it’s definitely worth a minute of your time:

    Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley)

    by Jan Cullinane — August 13, 2015

  3. Wonderful poem, Jan. Thanks for posting the link.

    by Kate — August 14, 2015

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