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Eulogy for Work Colleague

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 24 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Eulogy Colleague Co-worker Work Memories

Giving any kind of eulogy is probably one of the saddest things we are ever likely to do and when it’s for a work colleague, there’s the added need to be particularly careful regarding the feelings of the family. You’ve lost a co-worker, but they’ve lost a brother, a wife, a son or mother – so if ever there’s a time to tread carefully, it’s now.

When you’re writing your speech, remember, your role is to speak about what the departed was like in a his/her professional role – not to give her/his biography; that is a job which should be left to those who know it best – his/her family.

Summing up what you feel about someone you’ve lost in only three or four minutes is never going to be an easy task, but if you prepare what you’re going to say properly, it doesn’t have to be an impossible one.

Preparing A Successful Eulogy

Much of the tone of your eulogy will depend on the circumstances of your colleague’s death and the type of work done; the kind of approach appropriate for a member of the armed forces killed in action, for example, might not seem right for someone in a civilian occupation. However, if you follow the general guidelines outlined below, adapting them as necessary, you’ll have a good framework to work on and a few ideas of the sort of things that you might like to say.

1. Introductory Remarks

Introduce your eulogy by explaining your relationship with the deceased and how his/her death will affect everyone who knew him professionally.
  • How you knew her/him
  • How honoured you are to be asked to deliver the eulogy
  • How he/she will be missed

Example: Like (a few / many) of us here today, I got to know (deceased person) through work where he/she was a (helpful / conscientious / great) colleague and I know I speak for all of his/her co-workers when I say how very much she/he will be missed. I’m glad to have this opportunity to share just a few of my memories of (deceased person) with you.

2. Share Some Memories

This kind of eulogy is intended to be your own reflection on the deceased, so tell some stories to illustrate the kind of person your colleague was.
  • Pick one or two key attributes and quickly explain how they affected people at work
  • Ask other colleagues for incidents/stories
  • A little humour can be a welcome touch and helps adds a “humanising” feel to the speech

Example: One of the best things about having (deceased person) as a colleague was that he/she was always prepared to give you a hand – something I’ve been grateful for myself on numerous occasions, and I know I’m not alone in that. Just having (deceased person) around made you feel better, whatever the challenge, and we all got to know her/his quick smile and ever ready words of encouragement. One of my other colleagues tells an amusing story about (deceased person); what happened was this ........

3. The Deceased Person’s Legacy

Say a few well chosen words about how the deceased person has affected work and the people he/she worked with and how this will continue to be felt in the future.
  • Explain what she/he did to affect work/workmates
  • How this will continue in the future
  • Say how much he/she will be missed

Example: “Legacy” is a very over-used word these days; it seems that everyone and everything has to have one – but with (deceased person), it’s true; he/she has left behind a very real legacy, which will affect the way we do things at (name of company or organisation) for a very long time to come. On a personal level, everyone of us who knew (deceased person) and worked alongside him/her whether things were going well or badly will remember him/her with great affection. When all is said and done, however much you like your work, it’s the people that you meet in it that really matter and colleagues like (deceased person) are something very special; you don’t come across many of them and when you do, they leave a lasting impression. (Deceased person), we’re really going to miss you.

This kind of eulogy can capture the essence of your co-worker in a couple stories and a few short minutes of time; if you can do this, you’ll have brought comfort to friends and family and – just as importantly – made a fitting tribute to your colleague too.

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