The death of someone has the ability to break families up due to a myriad of reasons. It is not uncommon to encounter family disputes upon the death of a patriarch or matriarch. The powerful thing about death is, it has the ability to do the converse.
Death can also bring families back together. Perhaps it is the reminder that nothing is eternal and that familial bonds are important regardless how hard it is to be with someone, families gather together in their most vulnerable states upon the death of someone in the house.
I’ve witnessed this first-hand recently when we helped to conduct the final send-off for a middle-aged man. The death was unnatural and to me, a very maligned death. Found with severe injuries including stab wounds, the guy was sent to ICU before passing on. The family was needless to say, shocked and beyond devastated. Deaths like this happens (not every accident case would be picked up and reported by the media, thankfully). However, what made this funeral different is the way the eulogy was being presented at Mandai Crematorium.
The eulogy brought tears to my staff, Elizabeth as well as my eyes. It was conveyed genuinely and in a very unique way. A eulogy is supposedly a speech that shares about a person’s life. The eulogy for this guy, expressed by his very own brother (Let’s call him Alex) was a little different. Alex shared the speech on behalf of his deceased brother. In particular, the eulogy had these components:
- Alex apologised to the ex-wives of his brother for things unfulfilled.
- He emphasised that the life of his brother’s son was not an accident but is intentional, for a purpose. He shared the intimate and joyful moments of how elated his brother was when he first found out he was going to be a father. He shared how excited he was when fussing over the name of his son and how finally they decided on a name. I think such intricate details are so powerful. These are things that perhaps his estranged son have never gotten a chance to hear and yet here he was, receiving such revelations on the deathbed of his father. I noticed the son sobbing uncontrollably and I can only imagine how much this closure meant to him.
- Alex shared that although most of society deemed his brother as irresponsible most the time, he sincerely felt and knew that his brother was trying his best to succeed according to society’s terms.
- Alex thanked his deceased brother for always being there for him.
- Alex then called “Jie” and confessed that he hasn’t used this term for more than 10 years. Alex sobbed and said that he is grateful for his sister. His sister has been striving to keep things together for years even when she could have just left. That’s when I realised the family has probably been estranged in some ways and the sudden death of someone so dear to them is a real wake up call for them to cherish those still around.
It definitely was not the easiest thing to do – publicly sharing something to private during his most vulnerable state but Alex chose to do that. I commend him because such an honest account of his brother would definitely serve to provide closure not only for his brother’s children and ex-wives, but for himself too.
This funeral opened my mind to a new way of sharing at a funeral. I realised sharing from the point of view of the deceased could be a very powerful tool. A Eulogy could be shared in the best interests of You (the living). Do consider making a video or even leaving a text to be conveyed at your own funeral if you ever pre-plan in advance!