Monday, May 04, 2009

The Hardest Thing to Write

Yesterday evening, I attended a Chinese banquet in memory of my brother-in-law who passed away on April 18th. Ronnie had some serious health problems, including cancer. His prognosis wasn’t great, but the doctors gave him anywhere from a few months to two years. At Ronnie's request, my husband helped him put his affairs in order, as they say. Three days after completion, he died from a heart attack in the hospital.

As the oldest brother, my husband was asked to write the eulogy which was an enormous challenge. Of course, there was the emotional component, but the challenge of writing something from the heart when he’s only written business reports was daunting. It took several drafts before he felt he’d adequately captured the spirit of Ronnie in a clear and meaningful way. He did a beautiful job. But he also admitted that this was one of the hardest thing he’s ever had to write. I can relate.

When my grandfather passed a few years ago, I flew to Toronto for the funeral, only to learn that I’d be writing the eulogy for the funeral in two days. My grandfather had four daughters and part of my job was to ask them to provide a memory which I would incorporate into the tribute.

It’s ironic how a lifetime of memories refuses to surface when one’s grieving and under pressure. It took several hours to get something I could use, and even then not every daughter could provide one. But slowly, after several drafts and repeated editorial input from the family, I managed to compose his eulogy. It was the most difficult page of writing I've ever completed. It was also the most emotional and perhaps the most satisfying based on the lovely comments I received. That day, I realized that perhaps many writers never publish their most important and heartfelt work. They don’t need to.

As writers, sometimes our skills our called upon in stressful situations. We rise to the challenge, give it our best, and use words to connect with those around us in a way we’ve never done before. Blessed be the written word and those we are privileged to share it with.


Dellani Oakes said...

Lovely post. I'm sorry about your loss and I understand how hard something like that would be. I can't imagine having to do that for a sibling or parent. Thank you for sharing.

Cheryl Tardif, author and book marketing coach said...

I can really relate. At the 1 year memorial of my brother's death (he was murdered) and other inner city people who'd lost their lives to the street, I wrote then read to a large group, including media, all about Jason and his life and death. It wasn't easy, but I knew I owed him that much. I also set up a memorial website: Jay's Porch Monkeys