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 ©

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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  • 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. 

  • 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!!

  • 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!

    • 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.

  • Funeral Service

    It is well said

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  • 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!