Eulogies

Thank goodness you decided to read on. Thank you.  For some, eulogies clearly are about the topic of death and that is enough to keep them away.

I am at an age where people I know are dying and some are such good friends that I want to acknowledge their life in some way.  A eulogy is one way to do that. 

The church I attend has a “collage of voices” in the memorial service in which they combine remembrances from many people into one long eulogy.  I am a regular contributor. 

So how do I write those eulogies?  They call for use of the functions and my type dynamics as an ESTJ.  I use extraverted Thinking to structure the process and I have come up with a formula – I want to include stories, humor, personality characteristics and quirks, family member acknowledgements, and tugs at my heart.  I carefully critique my eulogies, often tweaking them as I remember more and more about the person and go deeper and deeper into their lives.  (If you want to see an example, you are invited to read "Susan Brock: A Memorial." (2000). Journal of Psychological Type, 53, 37-39.)

So here’s my process.  I use my introverted Sensing to recall as many stories about the person as possible; how did we connect?  What did I see that person saying and doing? 

Then I figure out what each of those stories told me about the underlying characteristics of that person using Intuition to find the patterns. Did the story show them to be inventive, conscientious, analytical, giving or just what?

Sometimes I reverse that process, first identifying their characteristics and then finding illustrations of those. 

Each person has left a mark in this world through living out their values and I make sure to include those values and their contributions (aka introverted Feeling). Each person also leaves loved ones behind and I try to acknowledge them and their special relationship with the person who has died. This part calls upon my inferior function and is what often brings me to tears as it hits me and I see what we’ve lost.

Once after a memorial service a friend and I were talking about how lovely the eulogies and those collages of voices were and how we need to hear those things in our lives now.  I promptly went home and wrote up something for her.  She said when she opened it, she cried, and thanked me for it. 

The school of positive psychology suggests writing these “gratitudes” and sending them to people in your life who have made a difference.  And even more important for your state of mind, it recommends that you do this for yourself daily answering the question “what of your strengths did you use today in a new or different way?”

Career counselors sometimes use the technique of having clients write their own eulogies. It helps to focus on future goals and reveals what is important to the person.

I find eulogies to be uplifting and the ultimate story; they inspire me to live a life of both service and joy.  What do you find them to be?

 

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