I was fortunate to be asked to write eulogies for two of my grandparents, and there are family members who have put their requests in for the same. I consider writing a eulogy to be a sacred honor, and although I cry my way through, I’m grateful for the opportunity.
To eulogize someone is to call attention to their essence and celebrate that rare light and warmth that makes them irreplaceable. This may sound strange, but I actually enjoy writing eulogies. I don’t enjoy that to write one, a loved one has passed, but I do enjoy bringing that person back to life in a way that we who have been left behind may take an inspired look together upon our loved one.
Admittedly this type of work isn’t for everyone, but I feel especially equipped for it. Here’s how my “individualization” talent helps me write meaningful eulogies.
“Individualization” is one of 34 talent themes that Gallup has identified from 50 years of research into human behavior. According to Gallup, “People exceptionally talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person.”
My Individualization talent helps me appreciate the differences between people. I’m interested in how people are wired, what matters to them, and why they do what they do. I’m naturally curious about what makes each person unique. This talent also helps me in human resources and life coaching.
Such curiosity draws me into the eulogy-writing process. I start with the belief that this person is exceptional, irreplaceable, and extraordinary. My job is to identify why. Even though I’m flooded in grief, my natural talent takes over. If it were just a skill, the skill would fall apart in such stress, but because it’s a hard-wired talent, I’m actually energized by the task.
I think about the person, let the recollections of him or her wash over me like a wave. I remember our shared experiences, the words we exchanged, the looks we gave back and forth. I recount what others have said and what others have written about our beautiful deceased. I write on my dry erase board the things that come to mind. This takes hours. Hours of sobbing, and sometimes laughing, and always grateful for the time we had.
From the board always springs forth dominant themes from the person’s life. I can take a lifetime of “data” and narrow in and then pull out the original, the light, the warmth of the beautiful deceased. The board may look like scribbles, but there is an awful lot of meaning there.
After selecting the themes that made the person exceptional (everyone's got them), I handpick meaningful stories that illustrate the themes. They may be major or mundane, but if there's meaning in them, the stories sparkle.
I stitch together the life data, dominant themes, and meaningful stories into a eulogy. My goal is to help others to see what I see—our beautiful deceased, wonderfully irreplaceable. That's what I did for Grandpa Jack and Grandma Pat, and what I will do for the others who have asked.
Life is sacred and unique and extraordinary. My Individualization talent fills me with such fascination.
Explore growth practices for each of the 34 talent themes.
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