A Great Eulogy

Early in December I oversaw the funeral of Mary Wojcik, and the family shared the following pithy and loving eulogy at the cemetery after the committal prayers. With permission, I post it here as an example of a brief and deeply moving expression–a reminder that a few well chosen and personal words tend to make the most poignant and lasting impressions.

To: Mom & Dad
From: Carol, Michael, & Joanie

We are from a cozy 2-family tenement house, which stands proudly across the street from the busy cotton mills filled with people operating huge noisy cotton looms.

From a second floor apartment whose doors are never locked, where the front staircase always has someone coming or going to our grandmother’s and aunt’s first floor apartment.

From hot kielbasa (only from Bronhard’s) sandwiches on kneeded rye bread (only from Bertha’s) with mustard.

We are from stuffed cabbages, cabbage soup and pierogis. Each grandmother having her own special recipes.

From “Did you do your best? Waste not, want not. Haste makes waste. Did you say your prayers? It’s time to go to church.”

From people who are proud of having grandparents who were born in Poland, emigrated to Massachusetts, worked hard, raised families, and ended up owning real estate to pass onto their children.

We are from people who spoke Polish, ate Polish foods, attended the Polish Catholic Church, went to the Church school, had Polish friends, went to the Polish Home for Polish Girl Scouts, swam in the Polish Pond, and danced the Polka.

From people who loved life, gave to those who needed it more, always had dinner together, always had time to give love.

From two parents who worked hard so that their children could go to college and graduate with no loans.

We are from two parents whose love was limitless and whose love was unconditional and constant.

We are from goodness.

************

MemryLane is an outreach of MemryStone, makers of ceramic markers which survivors inscribe with a message and send through the cremation process with someone who has died. The MemryStones return intact as a more personal form of identity confirmation and as a lasting touch-stone for memory. Online purchase options available for family and survivor groups across the country.

Commentary & Notes
3 comments on “A Great Eulogy
  1. A lovely eulogy. I have to say I’ve never heard a bad one but maybe I’ve been blessed that way. I think as long as the words come from the heart, people shouldn’t be afraid to write eulogies. I have, however, encountered situations where a member of the family did not want a eulogy done – leaving other family members and friends feeling left out and unheard. How can funeral directors, people working in hospice, patient advocates, etc., help in this situation?

    • Hi Jean Anne,

      I wish I had a single comprehensive answer to your concern, but as with anything involving people and emotions, the answers are varied and many faceted.

      Some people are intensely private, in which case a public eulogy may not fit at all, and those who wish to remember should do so in smaller gatherings and informal times.

      Other than that, it comes down to time and conversation about end of life issues with the person dying and those who surround that person. It also is a matter of having someone trustworthy to put together the words and expressions that faithfully sum up a life.

      In a era where many have drifted away from church and religious participation (or on the other extreme, participate regularly at one of the mega-worship centers where ministry staff is only met occasionally) it may prove challenging to find that polished story teller in the group who can make a beautiful eulogy happen.

      I think the best and broadest answer is that we need to rethink how we meet the mortality needs of a deceased and survivor group. We need to find ways to make that transition time–just before and following a death–more complete and meaningful and continuous. But so far I have not found anyone ready to start that conversation.

      In the parlance of business, we have silos of care, one leading up to a death, another after the death, and sometimes a third when the memorial service comes along later.

      I would love to see the caregiving world figure out how to break down those barriers so that the dying and survivors experience a true continuum of support, care and remembrance.

      Thank you for posting your comment.

      Peace,

      BT Hathaway

  2. Hi BT – thanks for your thoughtful response. You really have shown me that there are so many different scenarios in which eulogies or spoken remembrances can take place. Appreciate your insights. Jean Anne

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