eu.lo.gy, plural eu.lo.gies

1. A speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially a set oration in honour of a deceased person.

2. High praise or commendation.

I think it’s about time the definition of eulogy was changed to, “especially a set oration in honour of an alive person”. I’m not sure why it is that we save such speeches for those who have left us. What if we started “eulogizing” people while our words could serve to encourage them?

A couple of years ago we did just that at PNC. Once a month or so we would choose a member of the community to express our gratitude to. We shared memories, talked about their obvious personality traits, offered thanks for who they are and what they mean to us. It wasn’t an exercise in putting someone up on a pedestal. In fact, I felt it important that it be just the opposite: it was to honour our shared humanity. We each have strengths and weaknesses; we each succeed and fail; we each grieve and rejoice. And yes, we each have been fearfully and wonderfully made.

Death touches all of us. Regardless of how different our life circumstances are, we will each experience death. As I ponder this, I am struck by how important it is to really live life. It is not something to be taken for granted. I want to breathe deeply with all my senses. I want to care deeply about the people who co-journey with me while treating well those who I have but brief contact with. In all of it I want to rest in the hope that death is actually not the end.

When death comes, I do want the opportunity to eulogize. My desire is that it will be a speech that my friend will already have heard.