Don’t Wait for a Funeral to Give a Eulogy

I am mostly offline, attending a business conference. I have asked several bloggers to post in my absence. This is a guest post by Michael Smith, a blogger and associate pastor in Franklin, TN. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

We typically wait until the end of a person’s life to give a eulogy, to say nice things about someone. But why wait? Why not start now—when the words can have the most impact?

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Kameleon007

Earlier this year, my family celebrated my father’s eightieth birthday. It was a fun celebration with friends and family.

By no means was this a small gathering. Over a hundred people attended the party. I teased him that I was glad my mom didn’t send a Facebook invitation to all his friends, because he now has close to fifteen hundred.

As part of the program, some of my dad’s friends and family members were asked to stand and say a few words. Some spoke of his competitive spirit on the golf course, others of his passion for helping students succeed.

Even others talked about my father’s heart for God and teaching the Bible. His grandchildren shared some of the memories he helped them make. And my sister and I spoke of his love and witness, his willingness to follow God no matter where he was called.

A few hours after the party, we were all sitting in my parent’s home, remembering the events of the day. My dad began to thank us for the party. He said he felt honored that all those people came and said so many good things about him. He said, “I feel like I got to witness my own funeral.”

It is usually at a person’s funeral where all the nice things are said. The only problem, my dad noted, is that the person doesn’t get to hear it.

A few days later, an article appeared in our local paper, saying that “it is only when people retire or move on to another job” that we throw a party for them in the work place. Only then do we say all the nice things and celebrate who they are and what they’ve accomplished.

But why do we wait until our bosses, co-workers, and team members move on to say nice things about them? Shame on us. We should start eulogizing those who mean the most to us before they leave us.

I don’t want to one day hear myself saying about my team, “I wish I had told them how great they were.” I want them to know how much they matter to me now:

  • I want to celebrate my team. They deserve it.
  • I want to tell my boss what a great job he is doing. He needs the encouragement.
  • I want to recognize success across my organization. It builds morale.

Speak up. Celebrate the people around you. It is the right thing for a leader to do. It is the right thing for anyone to do. Dad, I love you and am so thankful for the Christ-like example you displayed for me.

Question: Who is someone you need to eulogize today? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jonstolpe Jon Stolpe

    My wife certainly deserves praise and encouragement for all she is and all she does as my wife and the mom of our kids.

    From a job perspective, I definitely need to make sure my team knows how much they’re appreciated.  Thanks for the encouragement!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      So Jon, what steps are you going to take today to recognize all the things your wife does for you and your kids?

    • http://www.michaelhsmith.com Michael H Smith

       Recently I have become more aware of how much my son who is about to graduate from high school needs encouragement. He is on the verge of manhood and making some very wise decisions I do not need to let these opportunities pass to tell him so.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Speaking from the perspective of a mom, it’s impossible to overdo it when it comes to affirming her. As wonderful as it is, being a mom can be draining and stir up quite a bit of self doubt. But it sure helps when we have someone cheering for us!

      • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

        Michele,
        So noted! Thanks for the 411.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          No problem! :)

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I can think of a few people. My wife, my parents, my pastors…

    They all have had a great impact on my life and I love them dearly. Yet I struggle to celebrate them.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      With you.

  • http://www.thegeezergadgetguy.com/ Thad Puckett

    My wife and my daughter deserve praise — for being who they are and putting up with my foibles.  

    I think there are times that people forget that small words of encouragement have a way of impacting people toward larger challenges.  We have to make complimenting and encouraging others a “normal” part of our interaction instead of rare (or waiting til they are gone!).  

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       A friend just wrote me today and congratulated me on getting a novel published (not out yet but will be soon). Bev spoke some very encouraging words to me almost 20 years ago. I wrote her back saying that she may not remember what she said back then but I’ve never forgotten them. In some way, the book has been influenced by the good, positive things she said so long ago.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

         I had a similar experience when I first started writing. An accomplished author wrote me a letter of encouragement. I’ve never forgotten it!

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

           Your words remind me of Lucy’s gift in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” It only took a drop of the cordial to heal the wounded. A kind word does a similar work in our hearts.

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            Kindness holds significant power.

      • http://www.thegeezergadgetguy.com/ Thad Puckett

        That’s an excellent testimony to the power of a small word of encouragement.  I would rather end my days as an encourager than almost anything else.  

      • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

        When does the novel come out? Where can we find out more info?

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

           Barry, it will first be available through WestBow Publishing. I of course will be updating the information on my website, tnealtarver.com, or google A Curious Band of Others and you’ll find me as well. Thank you for your interest. I included a scene from “Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes” in my most recent post.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Thad,
      foibles—great word! Yeah, my wife and kids put up with a ton of my “eccentricities” and I need to thank them on a more regular basis.

  • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

    Over the last couple of years, I have written my parents letters on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day recognizing and thanking them for all they did.  It was huge for them.

    However, it is a great point about work and in every other place we spend our time:  Church, our kids school…In both places, most of the positive feedback these people get are short: “Well done pastor.”  or “Thanks for a great year, teacher”.

    But, the negative feedback is more frequent and detailed.  Shouldn’t the positive be more frequent and detailed?

    • http://www.michaelhsmith.com Michael H Smith

       In ministry the “squeaky wheel” is often the negative, what a difference it could be for the staff if it was instead the intentional spoken gratitude for a job well done and faithfulness to minsitryh.

    • Jim Martin

      Dave, I had not thought of this but it is interesting that negative feedback is often detailed.  I like your point.  It might be more helpful if we would offer positive feedback that is frequent and detailed.  Thanks!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       I know from experience what “good sermon, Pastor” means. Without the details, the words don’t have as much impact. Now, as a member of the congregation, I work at remembering specifics to encourage my pastor-friend. Even this past Sunday when we had a college choir instead of a sermon, Chuck had an excellent phrase he shared before prayer. I told him, “Good message,” and he laughed. I said, “Seriously, good message. What you said before praying will stick with me.”

      You are so right, Dave, about speaking appreciative details into the lives of pastors, teachers, and others. I think your letter to each parent also is a practical idea worth emulating.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Dave,
      Yes, I agree that the praise should be more free flowing than t is, and especially in the church.  I have found, especially in my ministry, that I don’t hear the positive feedback as “loudly” as I hear the negative feedback? You know?

      • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

        Sometimes I think that the praise is often given but more as a group praise and the ‘constructive criticism’ is the thing shared to the individual. Perhaps that’s why we sometimes think that there is no thankfulness going around. Perhaps if we personally thank individuals we could change the culture of the Church and our teams.

    • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

      To all who replied to my comments.  I believe that details relay thoughtfulness.  If I give details as to why I like something someone did, I have spent time considering it.  It shows genuine effort on my part and truly acknowledges effort on the part of the person on am praising.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I remember years ago, having a party for my Dad’s 80th birthday. We were able to invite his friends and most all of the family. It was a great event. My dad lived to be 94 and outlived most of his close friends. It was so nice to be able to celebrate his life while he was still alive.

    My wife, daughter, and my daughter’s husband deserve a great amount of praise for the hard work they do, and for having to put up with me!

    I’m also thankful for my friends from Toastmasters who have guided and mentored me over the years. Our club is like family.

    I’m also thankful for Michael and his family as well as all of the community that has built up around this blog. I really enjoy the daily conversation here!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      I agree with your final comments (not that I disagree with your earlier ones) wholeheartedly, John. Through the influence of Michael and his blog, I have accomplished so much more in the past year than I would have ever dreamed possible. I too really enjoy the daily conversations here.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      John,
      Thanks for being such an important part of the blog community here. You, and many others, add such breadth and depth to the conversation that it really makes the blog special.

  • Rexschultz

    I praise and honor Ivan Rymes. He is 80 something and a great friend. He is a retired pastor and a biblical giant who understands grace and mercy to the bone. He knows people but he knows Jesus more and he always has time to be with his fellow man. May the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with him the rest of his life.

  • Anonymous

    Without question, my son, SPC Ross Andrews, who today is getting married!  My son suffered an incredible loss 6 years ago while he was serving in Iraq.  His wife, who was 7 months pregnant, unexpected passed away.  It was a horrible time in all of our lives.  Thankfully, Ross has found love once again.  I am proud of all of his accomplishments as a United States soldier, fantastic son, excellent big brother and soon to be great husband!

    • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

      I am thankful for your son for his service to our country.  Congratulations on his upcoming nuptials.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you very much!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       I, too, am thankful for your sons service. Congratulations to him and his new bride.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks, I appreciate it!

    • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

       Please thank your son for serving our country.

      • Anonymous

        The thank yous are amazing, I will pass along everyone’s thoughts

    • http://www.michaelhsmith.com Michael H Smith

       WOW…please tell your son “thank you” for his willingness to serve our country.

      • Anonymous

        Will do, thanks!

    • cc

      Please thank your son for his selfless service to our country.  His sacrifice in the midst of such tremendous personal loss is especially dear. I am praying for him right now as I type this, that the Lord will bless him and this marriage, that every tear from the past will be met with blessings in the future.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you so much for your kind thoughts, I truly appreciate it.  His wedding was wonderful, thank you!

    • Rachel Lance

      Oh! Thank you so much for sharing your son’s story and allowing us to send our thanks and blessing on his new marriage. Thank him for choosing to serve and sacrifice for our country, we are blessed by him.

      • Anonymous

        Rachel, thank you for your nice thoughts.  I will pass your blessings along.

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    How blessed is your dad! I too have tried to let my dad know how special he is to me. I have written 2 things about him, and given him printed copies of both. One was a blog post, the other was published in a Christmas memories anthology.  My prayer is that he always knows what an important part of my life that he is. 
    Here is the blog post:  http://www.chattykelly.com/2011/09/honoring-loved-ones.html )I write my children and husband love notes from time to time also. They don’t have to be fancy either. When I go out of town, I write special messages in eyeliner pencil on their bathroom memories.  This has become a special tradition that I do every time I go away overnight. I have even written a note to my best friend letting her know the value she has added in my life.  It’s not that I am gushy, I just never want to live in the regret of unsaid words.  Wise post today.

    • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

      I agree with you, Kelly.  My dad left this world before FB was invented and Michael’s point about eulogizing loved ones before they die is an important one.  My dad had his reasons for calling himself the black sheep of the family and he was away from us for 25 years before returning home.  The family was blessed with 35 days with him before he succumbed to cancer.  The eulogy was summed up in the way he lived during those last days and it was so powerful, I wrote God’s Black Sheep Squadron, a family memoir about those precious last days.  The book is his eulogy.

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        God is so good! What a gift of grace he offered your family in those 35 days of reunion.  And how powerful for your own children to have the gift of that memoir.

        • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

           Thanks, Kelly.  I can’t wait to read your guest post on March 9.  I appreciate you sharing your thoughts about writing.

    • Jim Martin

      Kelly, it is great to hear what you practice regarding this.  Your practices are helpful as I think about how to apply this post.  Thanks.

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        Thank you Jim.  Just make sure you aren’t using your wife’s favorite eyeliner pencil when you write on the mirror.  haha.

  • Anonymous

    We were just talking about this. A favorite teacher died suddenly a few weeks ago and we all wished he would have known how much he was appreciated.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Alle,
      I’m sorry to hear about that.

  • http://www.kevingainey.com Kevin Gainey

    Very few blog posts bring a tear to my eye. I feel I do a decent job of appreciating people around me, but reading this and realizing I could always do more when I think of the opportunities that have passed me by to add encouragement and appreciation into someone else’s life. Thanks for sharing, Michael!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I’m with you, Kevin.

    • http://www.michaelhsmith.com Michael H Smith

       Kevin reading through all these comments has taking my post to a whole other level and it has challenged me that I need to do more about telling the people I love how special they are to me.

  • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

    This is especially timely for me — I’m planning my father’s 80th birthday party (for April 1st…no foolin’!)

    A funeral isn’t the only thing we don’t want to wait for. I’m very grateful that family gathered to honor my mother for her 75th birthday, before Alzheimer’s stripped out virtually all memories of who she and we are.

  • http://cherylbarker.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Barker

    Great post, Michael. Thanks for the reminder to encourage and build each other up NOW. Such good food for thought — and action!

    • http://www.michaelhsmith.com Michael H Smith

       Thanks Cheryl.

  • http://www.justcris.com/ Cris Ferreira

    Not sure why, but I do that frequently at my workplace, but not so much with people in my personal life. As a leader, I always highlighted my co-workers and my boss’ performance with emails to the team, or speaking about it in our periodic meetings. But now that you mentioned, I need to start doing that with the people in my personal life too.
    Thanks for the reminder!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Cris, you are not alone.  It is ironic, but true, that we naturally encourage those outside of our family more often than those who are closest to us.  However, you named the easy solution … we just have to be a little more intentional about it.   

  • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

    It seems in our busyness, we don’t take the time to properly celebrate.  Our “wins” in life get minimal recognition, because we have to move on to the next project/task/event.    We’ve crammed too much into our lives.  We need to simplify, slow down, and rest in Him.

    Since today is a bonus day (Feb 29th), take the time to genuinely thank and appreciate the people in your life, while they are still here to hear it from you.

    • Jim Martin

      Mike, you describe our busyness well!  You are right.  Typically the wins get minimal recognition while we move on to the next thing.  No rhythm to life for many of us.  I like what you said – “We need to simplify, slow down, and rest in Him.”

      • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

        Thanks Jim!  I find then when I’m “over busy” that I have to stop in my tracks, to wait and rest.

  • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

    My hats off to the maker of this blog and the team who manages it.  You took the time to plan for this post in your absence.  Thanks for thinking of your readers.  I’m grateful for the lessons I’m learning on this site.

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks very much.  Like you, I think Michael Hyatt is very thoughtful of his readers, even in his absence.  So glad you are finding this blog helpful.  I certainly do.

      • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

         Jim,  you are doing a great job moderating here.  I’ve never seen anything like this blog and love how your whole team participates.  Keep up the great job you are doing.  As someone new to social media (only had 12 twitter followers at the start of the new year), I’m learning everything I need to know right here.  Thank you.

        • Rachel Lance

          Michael, I’d never have guessed you’re new to the “scene” – you’re doing great! Thanks for your participation in the community – it wouldn’t be the same without you.

          • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

             Thanks, Rachel.  It’s really nice to be part of a supportive community.  Starting out each morning with a story here helps me get into a positive atmosphere and I appreciate the posts arriving in my inbox about an hour before I awake.

            Once I get settled in to my new home, I’ll be back participating in the community.  Even though I won’t be able to contribute much during my cross-country trip, I’ll still be reading these blog messages on the road.  Keep up the good work.

          • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

            Did you say cross country? Any particular reason? Where will you end up?

          • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

             Hi Barry.  My wife, youngest son and I are getting ready to relocate to Iowa and will be settling in the Iowa City area.  This is something my wife desires so she can be close to her four siblings.  Thanks for asking. It’s going to be an adventure.

  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    Great reminder to notice those who help shape our lives. There are many in my life. However, my mother-in-law has been instrumental in encouraging me to run after Jesus, not just half way or incognito, but with every fiber of my being, to be bold for Christ, not ashamed. Thank you, Ruth! I am a useable vessel much because of your example.

  • Tracy Hoots Hoexter

    I feel strongly about this subject, too. I’d like to share two ideas:

    1- In honor of my Mom’s 70th Birthday, my sisters and I asked friends/family to write a short note to her. We compiled the thoughtful, funny, sweet and powerful notes into a ‘gift book’. She was diagnosed with cancer that year and passed before her 71st birthday. While she was sick, I asked her if she knew how many lives she’d touched, and she said ‘not until I read it in the book’. 

    2- At my son’s 1oth Birthday party last year, we asked the children to each write a note to him telling why he was their friend. I think it was a good exercise for both the writers and the ‘writee’.

    Thanks for this thoughtful post today.

    • Jim Martin

      Tracy, what a thoughtful, honoring gift you gave to your mother.  Wow!  Those notes must have been so meaningful.  Thanks for giving us a couple of practical ideas which fit nicely with this post.

  • Barbara Thayer

    I have tried to make it a practice in my life to say something good about those I work with and live with every day.  We do not know when our life shall end…I don’t want to miss a single opportunity.  I agree that we need to be encouragers…this world is full of discouragers around us.  We should and must celebrate a friend or family member every day.  I never want to miss a chance to say a good word while I have the moment.  Thank you for sharing this thoughtful post today Michael!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      When a loved one dies, the inability to tell them you love them is crushing. What a great reminder to do this now while we can.

  • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

    Enjoyed this post, thank you Michael!  

    We actually talk about the “eulogy exercise” with all of our new clients to help them think about getting more intentional in work and life.  The “exercise” involves imagining your own funeral…which 3 people would speak, presumably anyone in the world, and what would they say?Marry up the key points of your eulogy with your current big hairy audacious goals to make sure they are in line with one another (what you want to do and who you want to be)…and you have the recipe for some significant intentional changes on the journey to greatness.In the meantime, I really like the idea of acknowledging (eulogizing) others while they are still in their jobs or part of our lives.  I will look for an opportunity to do this this week!!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Travis, you are making a real difference by helping people align their “eulogy” with their BHAG.  That kind of intentional living is what this blog is all about.  

    • http://www.michaelhsmith.com Michael H Smith

       The “eulogy exercise” sounds intriguing and an idea I will probably use. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Travis,
      In what context are you doing this with new clients?

      • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

        Hi Barry, Thanks for asking.  

        Our general philosophy, backed by research and findings with clients, is that one’s “greatness” lies at the intersection of what they want to do (their BHAG) with who they want to be (BHOW…big hairy outrageous why)…organizationally, as a team, or as an individual.  

        The eulogy exercise is one method to help them concisely articulate the BHOW.  …whether it is as part of a leadership initiative, sales effort, culture reinforcement, employee engagement project, or personal development.

        It translates across industries, functions, and goals!

  • Judy Cox Laughton Lilley

    My high school math teacher, Harry Cheatwood was a marvelous example of patience and an example of providing a model of excellence in education and encouragement to me.  Thank you.  I have been thinking of sending him a thank you note.  Today, I will do that to make sure he knows it “now”.  Judy Lilley

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Judy, personal notes are rare commodity these days.  That will surely bless Mr. Cheatwood.  

  • Shawn Morris

    For my wife’s 35th birthday, I had everyone in her family, my family and her friends write a short paragraph about what makes her so special.  We had dinner that evening and I read them all to her, ending with the notes from her mom and dad.  Needless to say, she was in tears the entire time and she was so grateful that I had done something so special for her.
    By the way, guys, I was praised pretty heavily by everyone and was told several times that I was “Husband of the Year”!!  Those are pretty high honors!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Great idea. The best gift is one that is remarkable and personal. Sounds like you did both.

    • Rachel Lance

      Oh my goodness – what a great idea! 
      I love the paragraph idea so much more than others I’ve heard (scrapbook pages, letters, mementos, etc) both as a giver and receiver – it’s just the right amount. 
      Huge kudos to you!

  • http://www.flyingpants.blogspot.com/ phillyfemme444

    My mom is so amazing.  She leads/has been leading a Masterlife group for the last ten+ years and disciples new members on a regular basis through the Right Track (new members) class at our church, despite the almost total lack of support from our church administration.  Every other  year the church thinks it will stop having it, and my mom’s response is, “I’ll keep doing it until they take away our room,” but I know that she would continue to love on people regardless.  She cares for my very ill dad, runs a huge house and yard, and calls 20+ people every week to see how their Masterlife/right Track work is going or to invite them to church.  So many people at our church have been blessed by her ministry and I just hope that I can show that much Jesus to people too.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Thanks for telling us about your mom. She sounds amazing.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Your mom is an amazing example!  She lives out the model of loving others without regard for what you might receive in return.  I’m sure she has modeled some other great leadership principles for you too!

  • Gallowayesther

    Ite a very good idea to eulogies people when they’re still alive. It doesn’t apply to old people alone but people we have to deal with every day. Start with your family members,especially your spouse,then your children when they deserve to be encouraged. Those whom you work with either as a boss or an employee need to be praised when necessary. Good article!

    • http://www.michaelhsmith.com Michael H Smith

       I agree, I am working hard at celebrating my children’s accomplishments and wise decisions. The time I have to shape their lives is short and I want to influence the good things.

      • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

        I can say the same for me with my young adults leaders. I’m unsure if I will do this for the next 10 years so I should endeavour to make every moment of influence count right now.

  • Anonymous

    “The Tribute” by Dennis Rainey. Must read book if you want to honor your parents while they’re still alive.

    • Rachel Lance

      Thanks for the recommendation. I like Rainey’s work a lot, I’ll have to check out that title.

  • Chad Segura

    Wow Michael!  Thank you so much for sharing this!  This concept of eulogizing the people in our lives is actually extremely dear to my heart, and has become a mantra of mine in recent years.  At the urging of some friends and family, I actually began blogging about this very thing, earlier this month (eulogies4theliving.com).  I’m very new to this space, so I’m still figuring it all out, but I’m extremely passionate about spreading this concept.  So thank you so much for using your platform to encourage us all to let the people in our lives know exactly what they mean to us, while they’re still here!  Blessings!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Very cool that you have been practicing this habit Chad. 

  • Pingback: Don’t Wait for a Funeral to Give a Eulogy « charlie jordan blog()

  • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

    Thanks for the post Michael.  It’s really great!

    My three-year-old son was laying unconscious in a university hospital ICU bed, fighting for his life, for three weeks in 2003.   The question that most dominated my thoughts during that time was “Did he know that I loved him?”  because I might never have the chance to tell him again.  I can’t explain the comfort that came because I was absolutely confident that my son knew that I loved him.  
    I’m very thankful that he did survive.  That experience is an unforgettable reminder to do whatever it takes to let everyone close to me know that they are loved.

    • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

      John, I can’t imagine what you went through. I am looking foward to hearing your story on Mar 10th at Northside, and meeting you and Tricia in person. (Not to mention the famous Eli!)

      • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

        Hey Kelly, I heard that you were going to be there. We’re looking forward to seeing you too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carolyn-OConnor/100003383355053 Carolyn O’Connor

    When I left my position in government after 15 years of being on the job, I heard all of the nice things everyone had thought about me over the years . . . including one of my own bosses. (I smile when I think of one who said that I couldn’t leave because I knew where all the bodies were buried. . . ). What surprised me most was that people I thought disliked me (or even hated me) spoke of the impact and influence I had on their lives and the organization. (I never knew I had any influence . . . )

    When I think of those in my life that I should “eulogize” before they leave are people like my parents, my lead pastor, some of my friends, and a former boss. They left an indelible mark on my life that I know I will remember for a long time . . . 

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    My wife and kids for all they have been putting up with and being understanding as we are on the path to our dreams!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Here is to you achieving your dreams!

      • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

        Thanks Tim.

  • http://www.dennisbrooke.com/ Dennis Brooke

    Very true that
    this should be an everyday occurrence and NOT reserved for special occasions. I
    appreciate the words of affirmation I get from the people around me and can
    see how my own comments help motivate them.

    This topic is
    even more timely to me because one of my co-workers died at a young age recently.
    Words that should have been said to him—never will be.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Sorry to hear about the loss. Hope all is well. 

  • http://lifelessonshopefaithlove.blogspot.com/ Vanessa Tachenko

    My husband. I’ve been eulogizing him lately… on my blog and at church… doesn’t seem like enough for the amazing man that he continues to be everyday.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      That is great.  I know deep down it inspires him.  

  • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

    Powerful comment – “I feel like I got to witness my own funeral.”

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    Words bless or curse. Last night I taught my H.O.P.E. class to a group of hurting women seeking to heal their emotional pain. Each one  turned to the person next to them and spoke words of blessing into each other’s hearts. Tears of hope and healing ran down their faces. This is an example and you may want to try it with a co-worker, friend or relative:

    Michael, you are smart and special.  You, Michael, absolutely amaze me. I believe, Michael, you can do anything and the best is yet to come.

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    I agree with Michael.  Something I use to say what I want to say is Send Out Cards.  I use it personally and in business. The impact it has made on others and myself is incredible.

     It’s chosing and personalizing  a card online because it’s convenient, saves time and money (as low as .31 cents a card), but the recipient receives it in their mailbox!  (I even use my own handwriting).

     To learn more email me at onecardonelife@hotmail.com. I’d love to help you send a free card. Who do you need to send a message to?

    Send Out Cards started because of a missed opportunity. Founder Koty Bateman THOUGHT about sending a card with words of affirmation to his brother. He never got to the store. His brother suddenly died– without knowing Koty’s heart. Bateman said – Never Again!

    @hotmail:disqus

  • Raj Paulus

    I wrote about this very thing in a post called, “A Thank You Said and a Thank You Heard,” sharing a story of two women that influenced my life, one I had the chance to thank while alive, and one I missed…the comments section where members of their families wrote in are actually more powerful than my story. Read at your leisure! Thanks. http://www.insearchofwaterfalls.com/2011/11/thank-you-said-and-thank-you-heard.html

  • http://blogan.net Brent Logan

    I love this idea. An older brother of mine taught me to use birthday parties as an excuse to praise the guest of honor. We now do this, regardless of the age of the birthday boy or girl.

    http://www.blogan.net/blog/2011/03/honoring-a-birthday/ 

  • Anonymous

    C.S. Lewis suggested that if people are eternal souls, then they are more significant than entire empires, which at best may last a few hundred years.
    Yet what people experience here can carry into eternity – the little marks on the soul for better or worse, produced by the exercise of their own free will. How we treat one another can affect their path – the abused child is more likely to have have hot buttons that produce poor life choices. We must encourage, love, and value one another for the precious beings we are.
    I want to eulogize my wife. She touches those who know her with grace and abundant common sense, and pulls those on the fringes into the group. People feel emotionally safe in our home, and she’s the reason.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Words of encouragement mean a great deal to my wife. She banks in the currency of affirmation. And it’s not difficult to find things to say to and about her.

    As well, my brother this morning went through his first session of chemotherapy–something none of us brothers and sisters expected. We siblings have taken the time to encourage and affirm him as well. I spent last night talking and laughing and praying with Roger. His attitude about cancer has been that it’s a win-win situation. I’m glad to hear that and I’m thankful to be able to tell him so.

  • Anonymous

    A good mission statement to live by.  We really do wait til it’s too late to say all the things we should say right now.  Thanks for the great advice! I will do it today!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jpsummers John Paul Summers

    In my family we have a tradition of honoring each other on our birthdays. We take the time for everyone to say what they respect about you. It’s a great tradition that I will pass on to my kids.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      John,
      What a great tradition! I think I am going to steal that for my kids!

    • Rachel Lance

      I love this idea. I’m not big on the trendy big, chaotic, birthday hoopla but I do feel that the honoree of the day needs to be celebrated. Thanks for sharing, I’m definitely making note of this one for my family’s next birthday.

  • Judy Huf

    Awesome post! A couple of years ago, I read an article by Focus on the Family regarding honoring your parents. It encouraged writing a letter (effectively a eulogy) to your parents, expressing your fondest memories with them, appreciation, and encouragement. It was a great experience. I wrote the letter over a couple of days and was amazed at the wonderful memories that surfaced which I hadn’t thought about for many years (and probably wouldn’t have in the busyness of life unless I had intentionally set aside time to do so). Furthermore, it made me realize and appreciate all the sacrifices they had made on my behalf.

    I mailed it off, and my parents all but framed my letter! It clearly made a huge impact on them – I can’t remember how many times they thanked me for it.

    A year ago, my mother passed away after a short battle with cancer. When it came time for her funeral, I simply took the letter I had written a few years earlier, changed it slightly to bring it up-to-date, and used it as her eulogy. At such a sad time, it was such a relief to have the eulogy already effectively written, but perhaps more importantly, my mom had already heard every word. 

    Some things you regret doing in life – this is one thing I will NEVER regret doing.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Wow, Judy,
      What a powerful story! Thanks so much for sharing! I need to go write a letter.

  • SES, Essie

    My pastor. For all the grace he has shown me despite of everything I have done and said that was hurtful. And for not abandoning me. Friday is the first time we get to really officially resolve things. But he has been there for me a lot more these last few weeks. He teaches a lot about grace and he has been a living example of it for me.

    • http://www.michaelhsmith.com Michael H Smith

       It is amazing how God demonstrates His comforting grace through people. I am glad you have someone you can talk to and I hope you can verbalize your appreciation for him in person on Friday.

      • SES

        And this one was a fail.

        But at least my missions pastor is still there.

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    Most of us wait till it’s too late to say things like “I love you,” or “I appreciate you.” Now is the time to celebrate one another. I can’t agree more.

    • Rachel Lance

      Now is definitely the time. Do you have anyone in particular in mind to honor?

      • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

        good question, Rachel.

  • Quetita212

    My friend Elizabeth was one of the first people I admired when I start working in the school system again. She was dynamic and enthusiastic, she helps me in many ways. Today after 20 years she is still the star that shines in my friends circles. I want to have her energy and charisma. I want to work not only because I enjoy my job but because I am the best in my job. She is still better in many ways, she is an inspiration! She has retired but works more than anybody that I know, with happiness and with love for the students and the school where she is just part time  administrator. I want to be like her one day. I am grateful for you Elizabeth Cervantes

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    This is so true. I instantly think of the main guitarist on our Worship team. Humble, light hearted and always looking to serve others. He is selfless in his approach to people and doesn’t try to take credit for anything or throw his authority around. He simply loves and cares for people. Perhaps I should share it on the young adults blog we recently created. I could also share it at young adults!

  • Miranda

    I find myself both guilty and a victim of this. Sometime in November last year, my boss was transferred to another location. Before then, everyone (including me) complained of what a task master he was. Only when his time with us was up, did we realize what a great leader he was. I think I remember once literally pray so that one day he would leave. I’m ashamed of that. Some two weeks ago, my time at the organization too was up. In my life I never thought I would hear different people say the nicest things about me, but they did, so much I almost cried. My direct superior even called me a ‘gem’. Before then, I felt used, unappreciated, insulted and so many other negatives things. What an irony.

    Reading this, I reflect back, and I see what you mean. Thank you for putting it in words. It’s a change I’ve definitely chosen to make in my life.

  • Walter omwenga

    My mother; she is the best human being i have ever seen. As much as it was never easy for her to bring me and my siblings up, she did her best and that is why i am who i am today. Mum i love you and always know that you are and will always be my hero.

  • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

    Great post Michael! When I saw the title of this post, I couldn’t believe it. Just last week I started a fan page for my mom, who is losing her battle with cancer. 

    I wanted her to hear from all of the people she has touched in her final days. I’m not sure how much longer she has with us, but I couldn’t bear the thought of waiting to share stories, memories, and thank yous “about” her not with “her”. 

  • http://truenorthquest.com/ Brian Del Turco

    My wife and I recently went through a MAPS course (Mission Action Plan) with Steve Witt where we re-explored personal history, talents, passion, and giftings … sort of a tune up moving forward. Eulogizing (“speaking well of”) was a central theme. We actually wrote our own eulogy. And why wait? We were reminded to eulogize others, starting now! Great post …

  • http://www.kellenfreeman.net Kellen Freeman

    Last summer my family gathered back in central PA for a celebration. One of our family members was holding a celebration for his 100th year of living in Bigler. (He was turning 99.) We all gathered around, told stories, listened to live music, ate dinner together. It was a surprisingly fun event complete with fireworks at the end. I think it’s something we should do more often.

  • Anonymous

    This post has given me alot to think about. Thanks Michael… I do talk to people about thinking from the end, to look at our own funerals, and imagine what people are saying about us. However, there’s no reason why we should wait another moment to let someone know how much they mean to us. 

  • http://tangoleadership.wordpress.com/ PoulAndreassen

    Wow….  This is something awful to think about and it really touched my heart, there are certain things you do not realize until you read them, and through your article I have come to realize those few but interesting and effective way to leadership.
    Being an leader I would like to thanks everyone and I am going to really celebrate it.
    Thanks once again!!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    True Smith! It’s very important to share our appreciation with our family members and friends on a personal note. Officially, its equally important to recognize the team members with right appreciation without being phoney!

    • http://www.gailsangle.com Gail

      It’s in practising and practising encouraging and edifying others that we get more geniune and less phoney in our compliments.

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  • Anonymous

    It is amazing how powerful a thank you or a “pat on the back” or simple word of kindness can be.

  • http://www.funeralcomparisons.com.au/ Funeral Service

    It is well said

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  • http://www.gailsangle.com Gail

    The person doesn’t have to die for it to become difficult to express your appreciation for their input in your life. Circumstances suddenly changed on me a few years back and I lost contact with a significant mentor. I thought I would have plenty of time to say “thanks” but suddenly it had disappeared.

    On a more positive note – my section at work takes time in our meeting each month to encourage and honour each other. As a section we don’t always know details of what each person does to encourage them on their work, yet this allows for more personal, character type compliments e.g. dedication to getting things done on time, strength of character.

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  • K_olat

    GOD forgive me for all acts that run contrary to HIS Commands particularly against my wife a minister in the CHURCH of GOD

  • pete

    It was years ago that i saw a movie with James Stewart where he was depressed and wanted to end it – it wasn’t until he was shown what a difference he had made that he truly felt FORTUNATE.
    I am a father at the end of my career – children are busy – lost too many dear friends and can be prone to feel sorry for myself as the pressure is still there to provide financial and moral support.
    Her is one from left field – write your own, be critical and also acknowledge yourself for what you have achieved and the difference you have made to those that do matter – and those that you have unknowingly changed how they act and view the world from an act of kindness or encouragement.
    Because – when you do go, it is this legacy you leave that has the real value – not the thickness of you dying wallet – feel good about yourself and keep giving because you know you have given it your best shot!
    Also – there is NEVER EVER an excuse for bad manners – In any form and to anyone!