This I Believe

Timothy - Dallas, Texas
Entered on May 19, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: death, legacy, respect

I believe in a well spoken eulogy.

As a former minister I have been in the presence of death many times. I have seen how swiftly the body becomes motionless when the last breath is gone and the soul has been released to its mysterious and final journey.

I have held families in their grief and unable to stop my own feelings of loss have been left standing in my tears.

When the funeral came I had the privilege of speaking the final words anyone would say about that person.

To be asked to give a eulogy is one of the highest honors given us. It should be a task handled with the greatest care.

You can buy already prepared eulogies online. Just insert the person’s name and it’s ready. Why make a big deal out of it?

Well, for me, the end of a life really is a big deal.

I see on television the names and faces of the soldiers who have died in Iraq, and I wish I could stand near their coffins and say a brief personal word about each of them. Something that would humanize their sacrifice and make all of us help carry the whys and what-ifs that must lie like stones in the hearts of their families.

I read in the newspaper of a baby put in a dumpster left to die in the trash. And I so hope someone with compassion stood over that child’s body and blessed her brief existence in words that were comforting; words that praised the gift that babies are.

When my father was in nursing care I often saw the elderly sitting alone in their rooms. Some of them never received a single visitor. Their days blended into their nights without the embrace of loved ones, without someone to hold their hand, or read them their mail, or give them a kiss of welcome and affection.

I often wondered who would speak a word in their honor when they were gone.

When my own father died last year I was glad to give the eulogy at his funeral. It was a chance for me to tell the assembled crowd the things only a son knows.

Everyone deserves a good word spoken for them at the end of their life.

It’s easy to say nice things about good and caring people. They deserve our tributes. But what about lives that were dysfunctional, or empty and selfish, or problematic and quarrelsome? What about the suicide or the person who died from addiction?

Perhaps more than anyone they need our kindest words at the end, words that at last lift them above their dark valleys into the eternal radiance.

When your life is over, l hope someone will step forward to speak your name in reverence, to say a personal word of gratitude for the time you were here.

I believe in a well spoken eulogy.