Eulogy for a Brother or Sister
The death of a sibling is always a difficult thing to come to terms with – whenever it happens. The loss of an older brother or sister takes away someone who has always been an important part of your family and your life, while losing a younger one forces you to come to terms with the loss of someone you’ve known all of his or her life and watched grow up.
For all that brothers and sisters fight, there is a bond between them that is unique and very special; when a sibling dies, a part of us dies too – and the feelings of sorrow and grief are all the greater and more intense for it.
Giving the eulogy for your brother or sister is not an easy task, but it is your last chance to state in public just how much they really meant to you and pay tribute to someone who was, quite literally, your own flesh and blood. Chosen wisely, your words will bring comfort and support to all of those who mourn your sibling’s loss – and not least amongst them, you.
1. Opening RemarksHowever much you think you have rehearsed this moment in your mind, on the day your emotions will be running high, so its often best to begin by painting a quick verbal picture of the brother or sister you’ve lost.
- What sort of a person was your sister/brother?
- What were his/her attributes?
- What made her/him special?
Example: My brother, John, was a special sort of brother – well at least that’s what I think. He was twelve years older than me, so for as long as I can remember he always seemed so much more mature and grown up and worldly wise than me. But for all he was much bigger and stronger, he always had time for his little brother. When I was small, he’d always be there to read me a story, to pick me up when I fell out of a tree, or to listen to me when I was miserable. He taught me to fish, to ride a bike and how to kick a rugby ball; as I said, my brother, John, was a special sort of brother.
2. Share Your MemoriesWhen someone we love and care about dies, memories of that person become very dear, and it almost doesn’t matter if they’re our own, or somebody else’s. Sharing your personal memories with the people present allows them to get an insight into your relationship with your brother/sister and to relive their own experiences with him/her.
- Pick one or two stories to share
- Choose incidents which are typical of your sibling or which show a particular facet of his/her character
- Encourage your listeners to reminisce over their own experiences of your sibling
Example: Beth always had what you’d call a big personality – even as a child – which loosely translated meant that she was always getting into one scrape or another. “Living life to the full”, as she liked to say; I won’t tell you what our parents called it! I’m sure that all of you here today will have your own favourite stories about my sister; I’d like to share one of my own treasured and rather special memories of Beth with you now – and I’m sure many of you will recognise her in it!
3. Sibling LegacyIt is almost impossible for any of us to contemplate life without our cherished brothers or sisters – and when one of them does die, the legacy of what they leave behind assumes incredible significance. Everyone achieves something in his or her life, however great or small and whatever that achievement is, it’s more than enough for any grieving sibling to be proud of – so don’t be afraid to tell the world!
- How will you remember your sister/brother?
- What will be his/her enduring influence on those who knew him/her?
- What achievement will live on?
Example: So, how will I remember my brother? Well, that’s easy – he was just that; my little brother. Although he was taken from us long before his time, I know he has influenced everyone who has ever known him in a way that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. George was just like that; when you met him, you couldn’t help feeling he was someone special. I knew it the first time I clapped eyes on his small, red face in the maternity ward when we were finally allowed to visit mum and I know that over the years, lots of other people have felt the same. George was a unique human being – and he will live on in every one of us who ever knew him, partly because he achieved so very much, but mostly just because he was George. As brothers, friends and partners go, he really was pretty special.
Difficult though it may be, giving the eulogy on your own brother or sister offers a brief insight into a very special relationship. Choose your words wisely and you’ll do your sibling proud and help comfort family and friends alike.