Eulogy for Person Who Has Died After a Long Illness
Although losing someone who has been ill for a long time doesn’t come as a surprise – particularly if the eventual outcome has always only been a matter of time – it is still a shock when it actually happens. No matter how much you’ve been expecting it and rehearsing things in your head, nothing really prepares you for the moment when someone you knew and cared about is no longer around – regardless of how inevitable their demise may have been.
A sudden – if entirely predictable – loss can bring a whole range of confusing thoughts and contradictory emotions to the surface. It may represent a blessed release to the sufferer – but it can also be a relief to those who cared about him or her too, however strange that sounds – and it’s important not to forget the needs of those who are left behind, when preparing the eulogy.
Writing and delivering the eulogy under these circumstances can be a bit tricky, but the following template and suggestions should help you come up with something which will pay proper tribute to the deceased, while offering comfort and support to those who grieve the loss.
1. IntroductionWith anyone who has been fighting an illness for some time, there is an understandable tendency for the focus of your thoughts to lie in the last moments of the person’s life, rather than happier, healthier days. Your eulogy needs to step outside of this and commemorate the full story of their life and times – though this may need to be tempered if the illness cut the deceased short in his or her prime.
- Don’t avoid mention of the illness – even if events were harrowing; everyone knows the story already, so you’re not sparing anyone anything
- Speak of the life, not simply the death
- Begin to give everyone an idea of what sort of person has passed away; humanise and personalise what you have to say
2. Celebrate The LifeDon’t forget that the deceased had a life before his or her illness – so celebrate it! Try to find an interesting, amusing or poignant story from the departed’s life that will give an insight into his or her personality and the kind of person she/he was. Few of us are saints, so if the incident is “typical”, but not entirely flattering, provided you tell it sensitively and with feeling, no one will object – and those who knew him/her really well will appreciate the honesty.
- Humour is fine; even in the saddest moments, a laugh is always welcome
- Be upbeat and celebrate the good this person has done
- Tell it like it is – be honest to the memory
3. Legacy And RemembranceHow will those who knew the deceased in sickness and in health, remember him or her and what will that person’s enduring effect be on those who are left? Your concluding remarks should set out to address these issues and offer support and hope to grieving relatives and friends.
- How will the deceased be remembered by his/her family?
- How will his/her colleagues/friends recall her/him?
- What is his/her legacy?
With a well-written eulogy, you can commemorate a life – not an illness – while bringing much needed comfort to grieving friends and relatives alike.