Sadly, funerals are a part of each of our lives, yet ironically, they provide a unique opportunity for all family historians. My 96-year-old Great-uncle Ezio Joseph Rigadini passed away last week. Unable to attend his funeral, I wrote a tribute and asked my younger sister to read it at his memorial service.
Before beginning, I pulled up a eulogy I had written for another uncle to get some ideas. I had woven the story of Uncle Lou’s life for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to help them remember him in future years. As I reviewed the eulogy, I recalled that at the
time, I had referred to another eulogy written in 1992 by a family friend.
The moral of the story? Start collecting eulogies. Today, families celebrate the lives of their loved ones with creative memorial services, often including photo slideshows, video montages, and outpourings of loving memories shared by family and friends during
funeral and memorial services.
Frequently these tributes include not only traditional timelines of a person’s life, careers, and hobbies, but they also paint a picture of the deceased’s personality, philosophies, and outlook on life. In short, they describe what made him or her unique.
Sometimes morturies can “tape” the services, capturing the moment without burdening the grieving family. If not, the person arranging the services may ask speakers for copies of their eulogies. And don’t forget to print guest books included with online obituaries.
As difficult as these times may be, later they can lead to opportunities to discuss shared memories, review (and identify!) family photos, recall traditions, and help introduce a younger generation to the value of recording family history.Â
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On 21 April 2006 our maternal Grandmother passed. My sister wrote the eulogy on Grandma’s life of nearly 96 years. Not only was the eulogy full of wonderful memories, but my sister also briefly touched on public events that happened as well as on inventions and discoveries that were made during our Grandmother’s lifetime. Friends, family and “we girls” all shared the love and celebration of Grandma’s life through that special eulogy. We lost our mother in 2003 and the difference between the stiff, impersonal formality of Mom’s service where we weren’t “allowed” to share many memories and the warm, loving service for our Grandmother was quite noticeable due to a perfect eulogy!