Writing a eulogy is rarely easy. It can seem particularly daunting when you’re writing a eulogy for a mother with cancer. Whether your mother has recently passed from this illness, or she’s in the final stages of terminal cancer, it’s a very challenging thing.
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On top of that, you might also have basic practical questions, such as “How long should a eulogy be?”
This guide should help make eulogizing your mother a little bit easier. While no blog entry can reduce the pain someone experiences after losing a mother, these tips and examples can at least help you more confidently write a eulogy for a mother with cancer.
Writing a eulogy might be just one of your responsibilities following your mother's death. For help with what to do next, check out our post-loss checklist.
7 Tips to Write a Eulogy for a Mother with Cancer
Don’t worry if you’re struggling to write a proper eulogy. Just about anyone in your position would feel the same way. These tips will help simplify the process.
1. Ask for help
Writing anyone’s eulogy is an important responsibility. Thus, some people make the mistake of assuming the responsibility needs to be theirs and theirs alone.
That doesn’t need to be the case. Although you want to be sensitive to the pain other family members may be going through, consider asking for help from those who you think are emotionally ready.
They can offer their ideas and provide feedback on yours. There’s no need to wait until the day of the funeral to find out if important family members and friends are happy with your eulogy.
2. Treat it like a writing assignment
Writing a eulogy is an emotionally draining experience. That’s one reason it’s so difficult.
However, writing a eulogy can also be difficult simply because, for many people, writing is always difficult. Your goal is to accurately convey your genuine feelings, but not everyone knows how to write those down, especially to speak to an audience of loved ones. Maybe you’re worried you’ll struggle to find the right words or structure.
One way to overcome these worries is to treat a eulogy for a mother with cancer the same way you would treat any other major writing assignment in school: start with an outline.
Writing a eulogy outline before writing the eulogy itself can help you organize your thoughts. After all, there may be quite a lot you want to say. Getting your thoughts on paper will help you determine what is most important to say in the time you have. It will also make the draft-writing process much faster.
3. Write more than one draft
This point ties in with the one above. You probably wouldn’t submit the first draft of an important writing assignment. You probably also shouldn’t read the first draft of your eulogy for your mom without reviewing it.
After writing your outline, write a first draft, then review it, make the edits you see fit, and read it back once more. You might also want to ask others to check it if you think they’d offer helpful feedback.
4. Consider including the words of others
A eulogy doesn’t need to consist of only your own words. For instance, you could also include a quote about losing someone to cancer or relevant passages from a poem or song lyrics if you feel they represent your emotions.
This is an excellent way to emphasize strong feelings if you can’t seem to find your own words.
5. Read examples
We’ve provided a few examples for you to read below. That said, while they are helpful, they aren’t real eulogies.
You might want to read examples of real eulogies as well. These are relatively easy to find online.
6. Record yourself delivering it
Writing the eulogy is only half the task. Eventually, you’ll also have to deliver it.
You want to make sure you’re thoroughly prepared to do so. Even if you think you’re emotionally ready for the experience once you’ve written the eulogy, when the time comes to actually speak the words you’ve put down on paper, you might find yourself struggling much more than you expected. Additionally, even if you are emotionally ready to deliver a eulogy, if you don’t practice, you may stumble over your words or forget to read certain passages.
Guard against this by recording yourself delivering your eulogy. Yes, it may feel a little artificial and awkward to “deliver” a eulogy to an audience of zero (although you could invite some close friends and family to watch), if you notice anything you want to change after reviewing the recording, you’ll be glad you took the time to prepare.
7. Know your audience
This is an important tip that’s nevertheless very easy to overlook when you’re writing a eulogy for a mother with cancer. Because the process of writing a eulogy can be emotionally difficult, you may get so wrapped up in your own emotions that you forget to think about those of your audience.
That is entirely understandable. However, if you step back and consider the feelings and general attitudes of the people likely to hear your eulogy, you may find it’s actually much easier to decide what the eulogy’s tone should be.
For example, sometimes it’s appropriate to include some humor in a eulogy when eulogizing someone who would’ve appreciated a few jokes. If you think your audience would also appreciate some laughs to lighten up a sad occasion, you may want to go this route. On the other hand, if you can honestly say your audience isn’t ready for laughter just yet, you might decide to stick to a more serious tone.
Tip: If you've recently experienced a loss, you don't have to handle the next steps alone. From planning the funeral to honoring their life, use our post-loss checklist as your comprehensive guide to what comes next.
Example Eulogies for a Mother with Cancer
The following are a few short examples of the types of passages you might include in a eulogy for a mother with cancer. Just keep in mind, these are not full eulogies, but excerpts designed to help you get a better sense of what you might want to include in yours.
My mother may no longer be with us, but her spirit of giving can live on. Throughout her life, she always did what she could to help others in need, even when she was facing her own struggles.
With that in mind, if any of you right now are wondering what you can do to keep my mother’s generous heart alive in some way, I recommend making a donation to the American Cancer Society.
I wish I could say that my mother’s final months of life were always easy. However, the truth is, slowly passing away from cancer is never easy.
Luckily, while she of course faced plenty of challenges along the way, her experience was certainly much easier than it could have been thanks to the loving help she received from John and Mary. I can’t begin to express the gratitude my family and I feel for the role you played.
Writing this eulogy was difficult for plenty of reasons, one of which being the simple fact that I’ve never felt comfortable with my ability to express myself in words.
That’s why I found this quote from Khalil Gibran that I believe sums up what I want to say: “When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” I know we’re all feeling very sad right now, but it’s important to remember that we’re only feeling sadness because my mother brought such joy to our lives.
I’m not going to pretend my mother didn’t struggle with her illness, but anyone who knew her knows she was a tough woman who put up a fight and never let cancer take her spirit. You also know she had a great sense of humor.
Mom wasn’t the type who would tolerate all of us crying our eyes out without a little bit of laughter to make things easier. So, I leave you with this Winston Churchill quote, which I think represents how my mother felt in her last few days: “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”
Eulogizing a Mother with Cancer: How to Say Goodbye
Even after reading this blog, writing a eulogy for a mother with cancer (or any other illness) may be a challenge. Hopefully, however, these tips have made it a little bit easier.
If you're looking for more help after the death of your mother, read our guides on how to write a mother's obituary and funeral songs for mom.