When Writing Matters: Writing a Eulogy

I write fiction. I write about cowboys and Indians, sheriffs and highwaymen. I write about a fantastical version of the Wild West with rickety historical accuracy and plenty of anachronisms. That’s what I write. I love my manuscript, it means a whole lot to me, but it’s fiction. Does fiction matter? We’ll ponder that point later.

In these last days, my cousin Jordan and I were tasked with writing something that undoubtedly carries meaning. We were tasked with writing and delivering a eulogy for my grandfather, who passed away this week.

Writing a eulogy is a daunting task for anybody, but knowing the kind of man my grandfather was made the burden all the more heavy. George Issa Azar was a man who could say more than most men by saying nothing at all. When he did speak, his words were wise and witty. His faithful, family-oriented mindset has left a lasting impact upon his 5 children and his 14 grandchildren. The values he instilled upon his kids, including my father, have shaped who I am and what I cherish.

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George with my mother, my father, and my aunt.

George was a great man who was well-respected by all who knew him. He was the patriarch of a large, close family. How could anybody’s words do him justice? Jordan and I had a grand task, one which we both took very seriously. Before anything, we focused on George. What kind of man was he? What was he like? Who was he? We listed his dominant qualities so we could refer back to them and reference them in the eulogy.

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(from left to right) George’s daughter, George, George’s wife, George’s daughter, and George’s son (my dad).

Once we had the foundation for the eulogy, we determined its structure. We would begin by thanking the family, going through the formalities characteristic of an introduction. Then we would remember the man and his story. We would talk about how he came to the United States with 5 kids and 500 dollars in his pocket, and how he was already working on the second day. We would connect his story to his hardworking nature and his love for his family.

Then we would share a couple of personal anecdotes, referencing his quick wit and glowing personality. All of this would culminate in the message which Jordan and I, among our other cousins, wanted to emphasize: his integral role in the creation and sustaining of the family. We wanted to emphasize his legacy.

George was a father to 5 kids, but he was, above all, a father to his family. He and his wife fostered a strong, loving family. Jordan and I put our heads together for a couple of hours, tackling the eulogy line by line. It would never be perfect, but it would have to be the best we could make it.

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George with young me and my grandmother.

Then came the funeral. We delivered the speech. Addressing the grieving family and friends who were in attendance was not easy, but I am proud of Jordan for sharing the burden with me. It was an emotional eulogy, but we got through it.

I suppose the point of this post is to highlight something I discovered while writing this speech with Jordan: whether you’re writing something as important as a eulogy or fanciful as fiction, love carries its own meaning. Write with love so that the reader might glean something from the experience. Empty words have no place in this life.

Rest in peace, Sedo.

~J.J. Azar

P.S. To all followers new and old, I’m back. Posts coming at you every Tuesday and Friday on a weekly basis, just as before the break. (Note, this post is being posted in lieu of this Friday’s post). Thank you for dropping by! I hope you stay tuned.

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17 thoughts on “When Writing Matters: Writing a Eulogy

  1. I am very sorry for your loss, JJ. Taking on the eulogy with Jordan was a great thing you did. Writing one is quite an undertaking, but delivering it is even more so. “George Issa Azar was a man who could say more than most men by saying nothing at all” is a truly wonderful representation of the man who will always live within you. “Write with love so that the reader might glean something from the experience. Empty words have no place in this life”: wise words from the grandson of a wise man.

    Thank you for the post. It’s good to have you back.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Man… I saw you comment on another blogger’s post and was super excited to see your grand return to blogging. I am sorry to hear about your loss. He sounds like an amazing person who worked hard to survive in this world.

    “Empty words have no place in this life.” I am completely, 100%, with you on this. Couldn’t have said it any better.

    Stay strong, my friend. And, again, my condolences.

    Like

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