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When Writing a Eulogy for a Loved One is Almost Too Much

My brother

Being a professional eulogy writer is especially difficult when it comes to the sudden passing of a beloved family member. You're in emotional shock at the loss while trying to piece together the life that was for so long a part of your own fabric. You feel the pressure of others looking to you to put away the tears and get it together for the sake of honoring someone you all loved.

I recently lost my brother and found myself in this same situation. I anguished over writing a eulogy that would honor him and provide him with the dignity that he deserved and the closure that we, as a family, needed.

For the days following his death, I'd start writing and then stop. Start and stop, start and stop. My attempts were messy, and I was sure I'd fail. I knew my family would understand if I opted not to include a eulogy in his service, but I couldn't let my brother down. I couldn't avoid honoring him just because it was hard. He meant too much to me to let my own struggles get in the way of doing my job. I had written eulogies for other family members who had passed away, but this one was different.

In addition to being so young, and therefore, the loss so tragic, my brother and I were the two youngest in our large family. The fact that we were so close made the heartache that much more immense.

Eventually, however, through the mess and the tears, I found myself focusing my thoughts and selecting the memories that I believed would create a picture of my brother that accurately captured his essence and told his story. With patience and a bit of self-love, I was finding enough inner peace to finally accomplish my task. Maybe the inner peace came from the brother I lost, as I remembered his confidence in me.

When writing a eulogy for a loved one is almost too much to bear, be patient with yourself. You'll soon find your strength with each memory.

Of course, if the process is truly too much for you, hire me to help! A professional eulogy writer will ease the burden and create something you and your loved one will be proud of.

In Loving Memory of My Brother

Robert McDonnell

November 1, 1968 - April 30, 2023

The tragedy of a sudden death falls most heavily upon those left behind. We’re forced to ponder the circumstances of our loved one and the degree of God’s mercy. In the midst of our sadness, we’re left to question the reason for this being God’s will and to imagine what could have been had certain paths taken a different turn. But if we look at every life as being a gift to others, then we can celebrate it despite our questions and our sadness. So, let’s celebrate my brother today with gratitude for having known him.

Bob was born the seventh son, the eighth in a family of nine kids. My older siblings remember his birth as one that took place in the middle of a chaotic household, at the end of a much-needed house renovation, which lingered on well beyond the promised time. Mom had just put dinner in the oven, and Aunt Kay hurried her along to the car, eager to get Mom to the hospital.

Passing by her older sons playing basketball in the driveway, Mom gave them the final instructions for dinner before leaving to have the baby. The kids did as they were told and rescued the dinner from the oven on time and ate it quietly while the excitement of welcoming a new member to the family surged. A few hours later, Dad came home with the news of another boy.

As a child, Bobby brought constant joy to his siblings. The older ones loved to watch him play because he was as tough as nails and always eager to entertain. Our oldest brother couldn’t throw a football far enough or hard enough to keep Bobby from catching it. He was a natural athlete from the start. His small stocky frame would often be seen atop roller skates, tearing up and down the neighborhood sidewalks, his fearlessness carrying him faster and faster. On the playground, he’d jump off the top of the tallest slide and tuck and roll as he hit the ground. Over and over, he’d continue his daredevil ways.

As a teenager, he was everyone’s friend. His smile was a constant feature, and his laughter put everyone at ease. He spent more time perfecting the engine of his Volkswagen bug than he did studying algebra. His friends always counted on him for afternoon rides to the beach if the surf was good. Most teenage boys make fun of their little sisters, considering them a nuisance and an embarrassment among friends. Not Bob. He was as kind a brother as can be, trying his best to make me feel good about myself despite the awkwardness that comes with adolescence.

For many years, he enjoyed living at the beach where he surfed, cycled, and ran. He participated in several marathons and triathlons over the years and enjoyed long bike rides along the coast from Palos Verdes to Point Magu. He was proud of his thirty-year career with American Airlines and as a dedicated member of the Transport Workers Union. Those who worked with him loved him for his easy-going attitude and willingness to help even if it wasn’t asked of him.

As a brother, he would do anything for us. Time, location, or degree of difficulty did not stand in the way of his enthusiasm to accomplish what was needed. If his older sister needed her bathroom retiled, Bob was there to do it. If one of his brothers needed help installing a new water heater, he was there to assist. If I wanted new doors hung or a garden bed built, he was the one I called upon. The deep love that each of us had for him was rooted in this selfless behavior. We knew him to put each of us before himself in an attempt to prove to us his unconditional love. It didn’t take much convincing for us to understand the depth of his care for us. It’s a love that is rarely realized by most families, and we were lucky to have realized it in him.

Bob’s generosity extended to his nieces and nephews too. Instead of selling his car, he’d give it to one of them. If his nephew was in need of new tires, he’d extend him the money without a second thought. If it was a surfboard that was desired, he’d give away all that he owned. He loved seeing the joy that resulted from his generosity and treasured the idea that their circumstance was made a bit easier because of him.

To our entire family, he was one of the most thoughtful members. This was especially apparent most recently when our mother was in need of constant care. He offered whatever assistance he could to make her life and mine more manageable. Not many men would humble themselves to be hands on when an aging parent approaches the final stage, but without questioning it, he remained committed, sacrificing his own comforts, to provide the care she needed. Bob answered this call with a tenderness that was extraordinary. Because of his thoughtfulness, our mother remained happy in her final years.

Our mother’s strength of faith extended to her youngest son. It was paramount to my brother, as I know it remained a comfort to him during all aspects of his life. He practiced his faith quietly in the privacy of prayer, knowing to express gratitude for life's joys and remaining hopeful during its hardships.

He was the sweetest of souls who accepted every person just as they were, never passing judgment or saying a negative word. His happiness truly existed in the happiness of others, always aiming to please and never wanting to burden.

Sometimes, the nicest people don’t realize their true value. They don’t see themselves in the same light as others see them. They don’t understand the difference they make or the impact they have on those around them. They’re too selfless to recognize the goodness that results from their own words and actions. Now that Bob is gone, I hope he is able to recognize it. I hope he is somehow given a snapshot of his time spent in this world and realizes how much his kindness was appreciated and how much it will be missed.

In the depths of our sadness, we must know that he is at peace in the arms of a tender and merciful God, surrounded by the love of family once again.

Bob and I roller skating.
Bob and I, tearing up the neighborhood on our roller skates,1970s.

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