Hewett’s (More Good Words, 2014, etc.) updated guide aims to make writing a eulogy less daunting.
The author, a certified grief counselor, combines academic expertise (including a Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition studies) with her own and others’ personal experiences in this helpful resource. To mourn in a social setting, she says, is a way to begin healing, and may “enable us to be kinder to other bereaved people.” She recognizes that few people routinely write obituaries or eulogies, and in this book, she thoughtfully directs grief-stricken readers through the steps to create a moving, truthful speech. She urges readers to focus on creating a work that “praises the virtuous qualities of the deceased rather than one that presents mere biographical sketches.” The book moves from a simple definition of the word “eulogy” (Greek for “good words”) to the reasons for writing one. It then delves into the specifics of what to say, including handy checklists and suggestions about whom to interview; examples of traditional eulogies; how to organize the work; and how to deliver it in a way that takes the audience into account. A three-part appendix includes more touching examples, famous poems and a guide for interviewing family members. (Although the author suggests removing the guide’s pages and taking them on interviews, they’re so small that it may be easier to simply carry a notepad.) Overall, Hewett includes great tips on how to polish one’s writing. For example, she notes that funerals aren’t times to push a cause or proselytize; that one should never hesitate to offer condolences to parents; and that services can vary according to religious denomination. Her book lays out its information so clearly that its lack of an index is hardly noticeable.
An advice book for the bereaved that offers welcome guidance and comfort.