It’s hard to look past the present moment, to tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. It’s even harder to imagine our deaths and the future without us. That day will come, unfortunately, and it’s scary to consider. But we can also use this thought-exercise as inspiration.
How do we want to leave this world for others, especially our loved ones? And what do we need to do now to make that possible?
If you have attended a leadership course, worked with a coach, or participated in some management retreat around finding your purpose, you have likely completed the Eulogy Exercise. If you haven’t or you haven’t done it in a while, do it now. The Eulogy Exericise is a great way to consider the life you should be living.
We each live two lives. The first is the life we live before we realize that we only get to live one life. Then there is living that life.
We know we only have one life….and yet most of us still act as if we’ll get a chance for a do-over. We let ourselves get bogged down by minutia or trapped in routines, and don’t consider what we might be doing instead and how we want to be remembered.
The term eulogy is derived from the Greek word “eulogia” which means “good words.” A eulogy is a speech delivered to honor a person after they have passed away. The eulogy provides a narrative overview of a life, but it is not a biography or a bullet-point list of accomplishments. It is more a reflection of how the person lived their life. The eulogy aims to reveal the person’s heart and soul.
Writing a Eulogy
There is no set form for writing a eulogy, just as there is no set way to live a life. Here, though, is how you might begin:
1) Jot down the most memorable and transformational moments in the person’s life. What moments might have been their most proud? Most challenging? Funniest? Most loving, kind, or generous? When were they most present, engaged, and essential–in what situations and settings? What impact did their actions have on others? How might some of these situations or outcomes have been different without them?
2) Take a look at what you’ve written and try to find common themes. What sort of character or traits are evident in the memories that surfaced?
3) Select the theme that best represents the person and build upon it. Organize items chronologically or by degrees of importance. These items might include personal stories, third-party information, quotes, comments, sayings, or poems–anything, basically, that will help bring that person to life in a listener or reader’s mind.
4) Summarize your “good words” and restate your theme(s).
Writing a eulogy is, no surprise, part of the eulogy exercise. But it’s more than that.