What will be your Eulogy?


For those of you who regularly read my blog posts,  you know that I have attended several memorial services and/or funerals in the past 6 months.  I attended another one yesterday morning and the eulogy that was delivered by one of her daughters was one of the most touching, humorous and loving eulogies a daughter could ever give for her mother.

Pat was one of my mom’s good friends.  They roomed together at Maude’s house after both were newly working after college in the early 1940s.  I can envision them both getting ready for work, primping their curls,  putting their hat and gloves on before heading out the door to greet the day.  Living in that same house started a lifelong friendship between my mom and Pat.

So why was the eulogy so great?  Because Pat was being remembered for all she was… not what she did but who she really was:

  1. An Avid Learner.  She was Valedictorian at two schools including her Alma Mater of St. Catherine’s University in Minnesota.  She amassed several honors to acknowledge her love and commitment to learning.  She brought in several students to live in their home as Exchange Students so that her family could learn new cultures and languages while supporting the student in doing the same.
  2. An Adventurer.  She travelled all around the U.S. and several countries.  She bicycled around France as a young woman.
  3. A Leader.  She was a Girl Scout Leader for almost twenty years.  She sat on Boards and began early on as a leader within her small Catholic Church.
  4. An Athlete and A Dancer.
  5. A Feminist.  Long before Gloria Steinhem,  Pat was insisting that her six daughters all attend college.  She believed in women and the strengths they bring to the table.
  6. A Devoted Partner and Wife.  She and her husband were married 62 years.  62 years of cherishing each other as evidenced by the smiles on their faces when they would look or talk of one another.
  7. She was a true Friend.  When my mom and dad’s baby boy Greg died in the early 1950’s, my mom went into a depression and it was Pat who had the courage and commitment to her friend to gently confront and tell my mom that she needed to pull herself together because my mom had two small sons that she still needed to care for.  She saved my mom that day because as my mom tells it, “that was what I needed to hear”.

There is some research based on Positive Psychology that points to five strengths which correlate with happiness:

  • The ability to love and be loved
  • Gratitude
  • Curiosity and interest in the world
  • Hope and optimism
  • Zest

Pat truly was a person who lived a happy life.  Yes, she endured sorrows like any human being, including the death of a child.  She contracted Alzeheimer’s in the 1990’s and her great intelligence, love of learning, enthusiasm, curiosity and pursuit for adventure slowly faded away as the disease took a greater toll on her brain.  Yet little glimpses still remained… she was would see my mother and say “I know you, you’re Ruth!” and she would remember my mom’s birthday which gave her a sense of excitement that she could remember these small things.

I realized yesterday that eulogies are not so much for honoring the person who died but more for creating inspiration within those of us who remain alive…

What would you like to be said about you at your eulogy?

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