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Endings and Beginnings: My Path to Writing Eulogies

“The end of life has its own nature, also worth our attention.”

Mary Oliver

Let’s talk about death. Have I made you squirm a little uneasily and want to skip right past me? Or are you sticking it out, hopeful I may be discussing the latest serial murder podcast? I know it can be uncomfortable to talk about your inevitable death and everything it entails: the obituary, eulogy, memorial and/or celebration of your life. Are you being cremated or buried in the family plot or both? Formal funeral, party, or something in between? Death is a part of life and for whatever reason, many of us fail to plan our wishes at the end! Planning what to do with your body, what is said, how to celebrate your life should be planned like any other important aspect in your life.

It may sound morbid, but why wouldn’t you express your preferences while you still have a chance? My mother, Linda is 79 years old, grew up near Virginia Beach and Chesapeake Bay area. Her love of water and particularly the beach was passed on to her family. It is a source of comfort and joy to all of us. She has expressed to me for the last 25 years her desire to be cremated and returned to the water. Consequentially, she has her cremation paid for and all the information at hand for me when the time comes. It gives me a sense of peace knowing there will be that one last trip with her to fulfill her final wishes. I don’t have to guess because she prepared and prepared ME for it.

We are all not so lucky to make our plans or know what a loved one wanted. There are always the unexpected deaths and hastily made plans that leave us wanting in how we express our feelings about this person. Grief can make it difficult to remember or put into words what we want to say. When my 13 year old brother, Kenny died unexpectedly, I watched my parents struggle to plan a funeral, find the words to eulogize such a short life, and find a final resting place for him.

Generally the person writing the obituary or eulogy just follows a set formula after you have filled out a form and doesn’t express the character of your loved one as you’d like. Or you know what you want to say but you need help putting it to paper so you can express it to your fellow mourners. I feel it is a privilege to assist someone to write a thoughtful, heartfelt eulogy and that is why I have started on this new journey, hence part of the title, Beginnings.

My love of writing and a need to help others express themselves with the written word was the natural progression to start a business writing eulogies and offering services writing and editing for other life events, including professional and personal correspondence, and wedding vows. I want to assist others to coordinate their thoughts into an eloquent eulogy, memorial, letter, or vow, and hopefully lessen some of the anxiety that comes with the struggle to find the words as needed. When I researched this project, the overwhelming majority of those I spoke with expressed their desire to have their eulogy written before their death to alleviate some of that pressure on their family.

I have lost 3 brothers to tragedy, held my father’s hand while he passed, and was caregiver to many towards the end of their lives. I have lost a myriad of family and friends throughout the years, several of whom I have written and delivered eulogies for their family.

I am currently the main caregiver for my mother, a feisty, mouthy, loving woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone, and isn’t afraid to express her opinion. My blog will center on observations of all aspects of aging including relationships with parents, kids, grandkids, family, friends, and care-giving; some funny, some bittersweet, some sad, and hopefully I can help others in whatever time they are in their life, find a connection to my stories.

“Life is what you celebrate. All of it. Even the end.”

Joanne Harris

Until next time!

Teresa Wyeth

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