Joy Sable

My friend wrote her own eulogy, and it was very beautiful

A visit to Bushey New Jewish cemetery was terribly sad but ultimately inspiring for Joy Sable


Would you be able to write your own eulogy?

February 15, 2024 11:21

Last week was not the best of weeks. A friend passed away and I found myself — along with more than 100 others — at Bushey New Cemetery mourning the loss of a lovely woman taken far too soon.

When one of her bereft sons went to give the hesped (eulogy), something happened that I had never seen or heard before. After a few introductory words, he explained that, a few weeks earlier, he had asked his mother what she would want him to say. She was well aware that her time was limited and decided to write her own farewell.

As he began to speak, it seemed to those gathered in that huge, cold hall that we could hear our dear friend’s voice one last time — and what a speech it was. It had wit, it had warmth and, above all, was full of love for her family and for a life which, though cut short through illness, she still regarded as blessed. How her poor son managed to read it so eloquently, I will never know. Most of those present were clutching soggy tissues by the end of it.

It struck me that writing your own eulogy is a good idea. Of course, not all of us have the luxury (or privilege? I’m not sure what it is) to know when our time is up. Some of us are taken in an instant, while others have the opportunity to say their goodbyes and at least try to get their affairs in order.

On leaving the bleak cemetery (why is it always so grey and gloomy there — it has its own melancholy micro-climate), my husband remarked that if he were to write his own eulogy, I would sub-edit it brutally. But then, he is very much a “why say something in ten words when 50 will do” kind of chap.

I, on the other hand, have spent a lifetime with a metaphorical red pen, slashing away at every article I have ever written. So if I were to write my own farewell, it would be very short as I know the crowd (being a bit hopeful there, perhaps) would be eager to return to the house for a cup of tea, eggy bridge rolls and smoked salmon bagels.

It also occurs to me that why must we wait until we die before people say good things about us? We will not be around to hear any of it and yet wouldn’t it be lovely if we dished out those compliments to each other while we are still here?

I left the levoyah thinking, let us all show a little more kindness to each other. As friends hugged in an outpouring of grief I realised the only thing that matters in the end is love. It is so easy to get caught up in life’s daily trivialities and petty grievances that you can take loving and being loved for granted. If, as they say, the only certainties in life are death and taxes, then let’s try and make room for something which should be another certainty, if we are lucky: love.

February 15, 2024 11:21

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