My Takes

Just my humble opinion…

A Real Eulogy

Last April, I wrote a blog about eulogies at funerals and how it is the accepted norm to make the dead look larger than life.  Read here.   Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a good friend and community stalwart.  His funeral was well attended as he had touched the lives of many.   The Eulogies and speeches were of the same tone.  They painted a picture of a great friend, a champion of the people, a great community man who loved his country and his roots.   Then it was his son’s turn.

To the amazement and maybe disapproval of many, the son did not follow funeral protocol.  He started out by saying his dad was a bad dad.   It’s like mice crashing a cat’s party.  How dare this brash young man hijack this party?  Yes, he’s the son and has authority but he can’t speak of the dead like this!  It’s rude and uncouth and just plain wrong!  He’s sullying the name of his father.  This is definitely not the time nor place for this kind of talk.  I heard debates like this.

It was one of the best and genuine eulogies that I have ever had the pleasure to listen to.  I clung to every word this young man was saying.  He unwrapped a side of his dad that many in the congregation never saw.  It was an unwrapping like no other.  He spoke of barely knowing his dad because of a divorce and growing up thinking that not only would he not shed a tear when he dies but would not attend his funeral.  He shared how he came to terms with what his dad did and was able to forgive him.

This brave young man did not mince his words.  He gave a son’s view of his dad.  How could my dad be ‘The People’s Champion’ and  ‘Man of The People’, but couldn’t be my father?  He asked himself this time and time again.   How could he leave us behind and go and help others?  It just didn’t make sense.  The answer did come to him and with it came strength.  It was well written and presented.

His Dad would have been proud of this son who showed that he has inherited his penchant for speaking his mind.  At the end of the service, I overheard various debates on the suitability of his eulogy.

To the young man, you could not have chosen a better time.  You did not sully the reputation that your father had, you enhanced it.  You explained the situation that tossed your father into a path that he was not ready to take and how he made the unpopular choice that he made, thus you made his legacy that much more meaningful.  A bad man didn’t die.  A man who turned his own weaknesses and failures into strength did.  A man who didn’t have the tools to be a Dad, had the tools to be comrade, a friend, a voice, a mover and a shaker.

The understanding and strength you showed to forgive your dad was the beginning of a maturity that many of us lack.  Your eulogy was not controversial, it was revealing.  It was not unsuitable, it was necessary.  It was relevant.  All can see that your dad’s memory and legacy is alive and well within you.  My condolences to you and your family and may your dad’s soul finally find rest.

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49 thoughts on “A Real Eulogy

  1. Phenomenal post. I really enjoyed this, good work! And congrats on being FP.

  2. I thought I was alone on this subject. I once attended a funeral and almost left I was so disturbed by the way they put the person on a pedestal. It’s either they didn’t know him like I did, or they were lying about his life. Thank you for sharing this and letting me know that I’m not a weirdo.

  3. Very insightful. I would have clung to his words as well.

  4. A very impressive and powerful post. I wish I could say more, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t do the topic justice.

  5. Pingback: A Real Eulogy | Mama Meig..

  6. Sometimes people don’t like hearing negative things about the deceased at funerals. If I was asked to give a eulogy (God forbid that should be any time soon), I don’t know if I feel comfortable going to the lengths this guy’s son did. Still, kudos to him for being completely honest about his feelings. It’s not something you see often these days, at least not without being associated with prejudice, extremism, or ignorance.

  7. Reblogged this on allaboutallblog and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  8. The things is the dead are not in a position to defend themselves or present their point of view so it is usually considered bad to speak ill of them. Also, the family and dear ones are grieving the loss of a person close to their heart, I am not sure they would be very keen on listening to the negative traits no matter how true!

    In this case however it was the son who spoke. If I am in position where I didn’t like the dead person then I would rather not say anything instead of painting a bad picture. Unless the person was a Psycho-killer or mass-murderer or rapist or a very hideous personality, I think he/she deserves a good eulogy even if it is exaggerated a little…

    • self-defense against psychiatrist psychological murder on said:

      I like what you addressed. It seems like both of us are under influence of eastern culture. For the western, they may not react in the same way you do. Western Medias put a lots of dirty thinks on dead, such as Prince Diana, Amanda Todd, and many more.
      Take a look at my blog at minddefensecoach.wordpress.com

    • Good points, although I’d rather not say anything than exaggerate it a bit. Thanks for the stopping by.

    • Just two days after I posted my comment here, India lost one of its political leaders. His exceptional qualities were regional pride and that he spoke his mind with wit and conviction. But he always resorted to divisive politics and the only agenda his party had was ‘HATE’. He was anything but a national hero. But the media and a few supporters made a mini-deity of him after his death and paralyzed an Indian metro. In fact a girl who criticized this attitude on Facebook got arrested!

      Here I really want a REAL EULOGY – your kind :) . If people can live this badly they can talked of badly even after their death I guess.

      The Time has done a good job of it. Here is the link if you are curious to know who am I speaking about
      http://world.time.com/2012/11/17/the-firebrand-who-renamed-bombay-bal-thackeray-1926-2012/

      • ‘If people can live this badly they can be talked of badly even after their death…’ My sentiments exactly! It’s not our duty to make them look better than they were in life. Thank you for the comments. I will check out the link also.

  9. Great post. People are complex. The son’s forgiveness is key, and as you said, also a testament to his father’s legacy. It’s time to get real if we’re going to evolve…

  10. Great read. Funny I should stumble on this only minutes after I wrote about my brother’s death and how he was a bit of a bastard who loved porn and pizza. http://missmoiety.com/2012/11/16/the-man-who-loved-porn-and-pizza/
    Play it straight, are person would feel better loved when they are remembered correctly.

  11. Tammy J Rizzo on said:

    Reblogged this on Tammy J Rizzo and commented:
    This post makes me want to re-read Orson Scott Card’s excellent ‘Speaker for the Dead’. Actually, it makes me want to re-read all of Card’s excellent ‘Ender Wiggins’ books.
    The son in this post was basically a Speaker for the Dead, telling of the whole person he knew, not only polishing the public persona. We are all of our faults as well as all of our strengths, and to deny our faults in our eulogy is to rob those who truly knew us of the validity of their memories of us. We need more Speakers for the Dead, as this son was for his father. Without knowing and understanding and accepting the the faults of those around us as well as our own, we cannot truly comprehend the human condition.

  12. I too dislike the falsehood of putting the dead on a pedastal and ignoring who they actually were. It means more to me to celebrate people for what they are than to celebrate a sanitized version of them. I wouldn’t speak at a person’s funeral that I didn’t like overall, but when I spoke at my own father’s memorial last year it was much the same. I loved my father, deeply. He was like all of us an imperfect human being. There in fact were some pretty unlovely things about him. To ignore them would be false. To love him anyway and for the things about him that were wonderful and that were amazing, is genuine and more meaningful to me.
    My dad was a pretty bad Dad too, but he was a good human being. I was lucky to have some years with him as an adult and to have built a beautiful relationship with him. I was lucky to have known him as something other than my father and to see all those great things about him, and ironically it’s sometimes the same things. He would get crazy ideas and actually do them. This made him a pretty unreliable guy, ever shifting and hard to count on, but it also made him adventurous and brave and was responsible for many of his great achievements. Thank you so much for writing about this and for writing it so well. Congrats on your freshly pressed too. :-)

    • This son could have been me. My dad still has yet to accept his role as my father. At his funeral, I will thank him for being a model of the dad I never want to be. I am glad that you were able to see the good side of your father and salvaged some good years with him. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  13. I admire his son for being honest. The only thing worse than grief over losing a loved one is being expected to fake your respect and affection, when you’ve already spent a lot of your own life doing so.

  14. Great post. I know I’m not alone when I say this, but I think one of the greatest things about everyone of us is that we are all flawed. No one is perfect, no one with fault. That is the beauty though and what allows us to relate to one another. You can be a good person . . . An amazing person, and still have negative aspects of your life. This is completely normal and gives depth to all of our personalities.

  15. Thanks for the thoughtful post. I think there is a certain amount of worry that people carry by “speaking ill of the dead.” I honestly believe that a good deal of people imagine that that person is looking down on them and that they would disapprove. I’ve been to a few funerals, and they do wind up with eulogies that talk large of the departed.

    For my dad’s funeral, we told stories. Nothing planned, nothing dramatic. We just opened the floor to those who had stories to tell about him. It was a great way to revisit the good memories we had without waxing dramatically about my dad’s legacy. It was human, in the end.

  16. We must learn to stop doing what is “socially acceptable” and start doing what is totally honest.

  17. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  18. Love is the key. One can say everything they want to say with love… Love you! Well written post. Congratulations and thanks!

  19. Debra Colby-Conklin on said:

    I did not want attend my father’s funeral. He was not a good man. He was an abusive bully who used his family for his own perversions. Many who knew him did not know this about him. While others were glorifying his accomplishments, great personality and generous spirit, I was seething. I so wanted to speak out about who he really was and to let everyone know that they didn’t know what a monster he really was. I didn’t though. I couldn’t bring myself to destroy these persons’ memories of a man they thought they knew. Their memories were not my memories and although false, this is the man they were remembering. He presented a different man to them and that’s who they were remembering. I felt it wasn’t my place to shatter their images.

    My truths are my own and sharing those truths wouldn’t really accomplish anything except hurting a lot of other people who didn’t deserve to be hurt. I admire those who are able to express their truths, but I suppose I wasn’t one of them. I’m glad it your friend was able to find closure.

    • Great comment! As Jyo said, ‘Love is the key’. The son presented his father’s negative points, not with hatred but with love. That was the big difference. Thanks for reading!

      • Debra Colby-Conklin on said:

        Which is admirable and helped others to shed light on an entirely different personality than the one that had been presented to them. These words from his son enhanced his father…I wish I could say that about my father. Anything I may have said likely would not be appreciated by those in attendence.

      • Unfortunately, I have to concur with your sentiments. Unlike this son, I have nothing to say at my dad’s funeral that would be appreciated. I would chose to be silent.

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