I am writing here about those resumes which are given of someone’s life at their funeral.
The giving of a eulogy is a valuable part of the grieving process for the bereaved. Through the eulogy, the person who was dear to them is being brought into mind and this can facilitate mourning and emotional grieving to take place. A funeral without an eulogy can lead to suppression of emotion which is not good for those who are grieving. Calling to mind the deceased encourages a healthy process of remembering the dear one and mourning their loss.
But what should be said in a eulogy and who should give it?
As regards to who should give it, I suppose there is no clear answer to this. Those who are closest to the deceased might find it too difficult an experience because of the emotion involved. Those who have no connection to the deceased giving it will mean that the presentation about the deceased’s life and character lacks authenticity. Sometimes the person leading the service may be the best person to do this, particularly if he knows the deceased. However, I suggest that someone who had personal knowledge of the deceased is best.
But what is to be said? I suggest that this is no place for a “warts and all” remembrance of the deceased. This is no place for the rehearsing of grudges and telling of the inadequacies of the loved one. David gives us a great pattern to follow in 2 Samuel 1:19-27. He has just received news of the passing of Saul and so what is he to say? Remember, Saul has been exceptionally nasty to him. He has abused him verbally and sought to kill him in the past. Consider then these words in that context.
Saul and Jonathan—
in life they were loved and admired,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.
“Daughters of Israel,
weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.
(2 Sam. 1:23-24)
What do we learn here then? Eulogies are to warm remembrances of the deceased. There should be a presentation of the good parts of their character and their life. Everybody may know that Uncle Charlie could be foul-mouthed, but is it really the time to bring this up at the funeral? Of course, this does not mean lying, but it does mean we are careful with what we say.
The giving of a good account of the life of the deceased encourages the grieving process. It means that the grieving process can be enhanced. However, to give a eulogy that opens up old wounds, or reminds you of how the deceased harmed you is not helpful.
So eulogies are good, but be careful what you put in them.