A eulogy is a five to ten minute summary of a person’s life spoken at their funeral. It may be given by a minister, funeral facilitator, friend or family member. The length of life does not dictate the length of the summary. A life of 100 years or 100 minutes, both are summarised into a five-minute eulogy.
I was honoured to give the eulogy at my Grandpa’s funeral last week Monday. He was not only my ancestor and patriarch; he was also one of my best friends. As my friend I had listened to his life stories many times and read his autobiography so I knew him pretty well.
Yet as I tried to fit almost 85 years of life, love and adventure into a 5 minute speech I was confronted in a new way about the brevity of life and how much or little impact we can have in our time on earth.
I was privileged to attend a graveside burial for Caleb twelve years ago. There was no funeral, celebration or memorial service. Around the grave there stood only a small handful of people. Yet here was a life that demanded a great eulogy. Caleb’s life was one of impact. His life and his death still effect people today, whenever his story is told.
His life had been one of struggle and hardship. The people who gathered hadn’t known him long. There were no pall bearers at Caleb’s grave, for the tiny coffin fit in his father’s hands. Caleb, a boy whose life created an ever-widening ripple, lived just 11 days. His life was a miracle, his death unexpected, his parent’s faith throughout a testimony of God’s peace.
As I, and others, spoke of my Grandpa’s life several key aspects of who he was stood out. My Grandpa was a man who:
- Had a strong, passionate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ
- Spent over 50 years studying the Bible and shared it with anyone who would listen
- Deeply loved his family
- Was full of integrity who chose to work smarter and harder
- Had a wonderful sense of humour
When my friend Elizabeth’s grandfather died the funeral was “short and weird”. His family was very happy that he was finally dead and no one had a nice thing to say about him. This is so sad.
Looking at three very different lives and eulogies stirs me to consider my own. What will people say in my eulogy? What would I like them to say about my life? At this point in my life I would hope my eulogy would reflect these things about me:
- I had a lifelong, passionate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ
- I deeply valued my family and friends
- I was kind, loving, forgiving, generous, teachable, continually growing
- I lived as the person God created me to be
- Who I was and how I lived sent ripples into the world
I think these things are true of who I am now, and I hope they are still true in 50, 60, 70 years. But maybe by then people will choose to say something else about me. While I cannot control the words they will choose to say at my funeral, I can choose how I live and hope that it inspires those who attend to live a better life, just as my Grandpa’s life inspires me.
What would you like people to say about you at the end of your life? Is this something they could say now or do you have some changing to do to get to a place where that would be true?