In a time of so much chaos, this eulogy was one of the only things I could control and I clung to this task life a life preserver that was keeping me afloat.
If I could successfully get through delivering my dad’s eulogy, I can get through anything else life throws at me.
Suggested Eulogy Structure
- Thank everyone for coming: You are the voice of your family and the beginning of the eulogy is the prime time to thank everyone for their support. This will also give you time to calm any nerves and to get into the flow of delivering the message you want to convey.
- Share a story (or two): Provide a couple stories about your loved one that will engage the attendees.
- Add some humor, if possible (and appropriate): The tone at the funeral will most likely be somber and many will appreciate the comedic relief of a good joke, especially if your loved one had a comical personality and zeal for life.
- Share something personal: This is your time to be raw and vulnerable. If you are giving a eulogy, you were one of the most important people in that person’s life. You are going to have many intimate memories. Talk about what you are going to miss the most. It’s okay if you cry.
- End on a high note: Tie up your eulogy in a nice package with a great ending. Share a quote that sums up the overall sentiment or share one final piece of advice your loved one bestowed on you.
My Dad’s Eulogy
First, I would like to thank everyone for their support and outpouring of love during the most difficult time in our lives. It has been so positively overwhelming to know how much my dad and our family are loved. I know many people came from near and far to pay their respects, and on behalf of our entire family, thank you for your support as I am well aware that each person in attendance is going through some type of grieving as well. Please look around the room and know that each and everyone one of us has a support group of people to lean on during this terrible tragedy. We will get through this together, because we are all in this together.
I was going to bring my flute and play a song for this eulogy for my dad. As many of you know, I used to be a very accomplished “flutist.” However, many of you also probably know that my dad HATED it when I played my flute! Don’t get me wrong, he was so proud of my accomplishments. He went to every band concert and marching band competition, took me to private lessons and solo competitions, and supported band fundraisers by selling instants at our school’s smoke filled and absolutely disgusting Bingo hall—if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
But he REALLY did not like the sound of the flute. Or the song choices my band director selected. He always asked me why Jethro Tull songs were not in the repertoire. To my dad’s annoyance, I was one of the good kids who practiced every day. He always told me to practice each night when he went down the road to play the lottery so he didn’t have to listen, so that’s what I usually did. One time recently, my parents were at our house. I had pulled out my old flute and was playing it for Blake. My husband, Aaron and my dad were sitting on the couch and he looked over at Aaron and said, “Well…I don’t miss THAT!” So…dad, for you, I will not play a song tonight in your honor.
As I was writing my dad’s obituary the other day, we have copies in the back of you would like to take one, I was thinking of ways to describe him and asked many of you in the room to do the same. What came up repeatedly was that my dad was just an all-around good guy who was, to simply put it, NICE and thoughtful. Please raise your hand if Kendall Parsley did something to change your life for the better—helped you fix something at your house, loaned you a tool, shared fishing advice (or a trip) with you, gave you a beer, a pirated movie, or something else? [WAIT FOR HANDS TO RAISE—PAUSE].
I have so many “nice guy” memories of my dad, because he was especially nice to me. One of the last occurrences that comes to mind has to do with ANTS. As many of you know, I DO NOT like bugs. At all. And especially NOT in my house. Well, this Spring I had ants in my house. I suppose it was not the end of the world, but to me it was an INFESTATION! Of course, Aaron was out of town for work. So the first thing I think of is to call my dad. I asked him, “How do I get these ants out of my house?!” He told me a couple of things to do. I am not proud to admit this, but I perhaps had a bit of a meltdown. Then, my dad said that he did not have a fishing trip the next day and offered to come to my house to get rid of the ants. So…he drove the hour-plus drive the next day with supplies in hand, sprayed around my house, and showed me what to do in the future. For some reason, I worked from home that day and was able to see him. He did not stay long, he had to get back for his couple’s bowling league, but I am so glad I was there to see him and I am so grateful for all the big and little things he constantly did for me throughout my life.
The other word to describe my dad is funny. He had such a fantastic sense of humor full of sarcasm and wit, which I would like to think I inherited. This is the type of person whose natural response to Aaron asking my parents’ permission to marry me was, “I saw on Dr. Phil that the average wedding costs $30,000.” Really?! 1) Why are you watching Dr. Phil? And 2) that’s really the only thing you have to say, Dad?!
When I look back at our text messages, we primarily talked through emojis and memes—most recently about his support of Donald Trump, his detest for Hilary Clinton (not trying to get political here…it’s just the truth!), and his love of Ohio State and hatred for all things Michigan. And when I see my dad in my mind’s eye, I see him wearing a hilarious t-shirt with a funny picture and/or saying on it. He would always send me text messages with links to these shirts. Sometimes it was a hint for me to buy one for him as a gift, but other times he would say “Nope—already bought it” and I would see him sporting his latest clothing find the next time I saw him.
I also would like to briefly mention, and only because this is the most raw and sensitive topic for me at this point in time, that my dad was an incredible Papa. He was a surprisingly excellent baby whisperer and he loved Blake from the moment I told him I was pregnant, to the night he held Blake in the hospital for the first time, and for the past two years. It was such a privilege to see their bond and seeing them together is definitely something I will miss the most.
Some of the best advice I have received is that grief is not something that you complete, but rather something you endure. So, as Sheryl Sandberg said in her most recent book—“lean in to the suck” and expect your life to be awful for a little while. But also know that Option A is not available so let’s just kick the shit out of Option B and FISH ON!