Should you share the fact that your loved one was an alcoholic during their eulogy? This is a tough question to answer.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Things to Remember When Writing a Eulogy for Someone Who Died of Alcoholism
- Eulogy Examples for Someone Who Died of Alcoholism
We aren't in the business of telling others the right way to handle these difficult situations. Instead, we would like to give you points to ponder from all perspectives. Even though we don't mean to take the easy way out, there's no "easy" when it comes to this situation.
Things to Remember When Writing a Eulogy for Someone Who Died of Alcoholism
How do you write a eulogy for someone who struggled in life? You might want to look at eulogy samples to see how others have handled difficult situations.
We found that some people write two eulogies – one that they share at the funeral and another they write for themselves or share on some other platform. So this might be one way to handle this delicate situation.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when writing your loved one's eulogy.
1. Is it necessary to speak about alcoholism during the eulogy?
The word "eulogy" comes from a Middle English word meaning "high praise." The prefix "eu" means "good" and is found in words "euphoria" and "euphemism."
With that said, perhaps you don't need to disclose your loved one's struggles during the eulogy. Some families choose to remember only the positive attributes of the deceased during the funeral instead of listing their struggles and limitations. After all, everyone has struggles, and no one gets through life without making any mistakes.
2. Would talking about your loved one's alcoholism help others?
Some might say that sharing a person's struggles may help others in their journeys. After all, perhaps someone attending the funeral suffers from their own addictions. They may have an "aha" moment at your loved one's funeral and feel inspired to get the help they need.
If you think that there's a chance that others could learn from your loved one's death, perhaps you could write a carefully crafted unforgettable eulogy that encourages others to get help.
3. Is there a family consensus?
Even though funerals are about the dead, they are for the living. Think about the other people who will be attending your loved one's funeral. Do they want to let others know that your loved one was an alcoholic?
It is nice to have close family members to lean on during times of grief. However, if you argue about the eulogy, you may be straining the relationship with your surviving family members.
4. Who is the subject of the eulogy?
Your life might have been difficult if your spouse or parent was an alcoholic. In fact, you might feel tempted to disclose the difficult times you experienced during your loved one's eulogy to let others know about your struggles. Additionally, if you tried to hide your loved one's alcoholism from others, it might feel good to finally "get it off your chest."
However, a eulogy isn't typically about the person giving it. Instead, it's about the person who died. Therefore, some would say it's inappropriate to talk about your hard times during someone else's eulogy. However, if you feel like talking about the difficult times you experienced from having an alcoholic as a spouse or parent, there may be more appropriate places than your loved one's funeral.
5. Is there someone else who could give the eulogy?
Perhaps you would struggle to stand in front of a group of people and speak about your loved one without disclosing the fact that they were an alcoholic. Maybe that was such a central part of their personality that you couldn't imagine delivering a speech without discussing their struggles.
Perhaps you could ask someone else to give the eulogy if that's the case. After all, many families choose to have an officiant or minister write and deliver the eulogy. Only in certain situations does a family member do it.
6. Would avoiding the topic seem disingenuous?
Perhaps the fact that your loved one was an alcoholic is the elephant in the room.
Some alcoholics hide their disease from others, while others wear their addiction on their sleeves. Perhaps everyone attending your loved one's funeral knows that your loved one died of alcoholism. If that's the case, not talking about it may feel awkward and disingenuous.
On the other hand, if your loved one kept their struggles a secret from others, you have to ask yourself if it is appropriate to share the secret with others after the person dies. Would you disclose any other secrets about a person after death? If not, why would you choose to share this health struggle with others?
7. Are you too angry to give the eulogy?
Grief comes with a wide variety of emotions. While sadness is undoubtedly at the top of the list for many, others feel angry when a loved one dies.
Perhaps you wish to share this anger with others. However, does that make the eulogy more about you and less about the deceased?
8. Would you typically share the cause of death during a eulogy?
Does the cause of death have any place in a person's eulogy? For example, would you talk about your loved one's cancer or heart disease? What if the deceased died by their own hands?
9. Do you share funny stories about what the person did or said while under the influence of alcohol?
Perhaps your friend or family member lived hard and was an outgoing alcoholic who was always the life of the party. Is it appropriate to share some of those drunk stories during the eulogy – if alcoholism was central to their death? Some would wish to celebrate the life of a friend, while others would feel that this would promote an unhealthy lifestyle to others.
10. Do you try to share the perceived "reasons" behind your loved one's addiction?
Maybe your loved one faced trauma in life. Perhaps they were abused as a child or faced a horrible experience while serving their country. Do you share these facts during the funeral in an attempt to explain the addiction?
11. Are you able to share about the hope of the afterlife instead of your loved one's struggle on earth?
If your loved one had faith in God, perhaps you can write about how everyone's struggles are over in Heaven. You could also write about how everyone is equal in the eyes of God.
Eulogy Examples for Someone Who Died of Alcoholism
Unfortunately, we have given you more things to think about when writing the eulogy for an alcoholic. This was our intention, as we cannot advise people on the best way to handle this situation.
Chances are, if you are in this situation, you will have a very emotional response to some of these questions. Please understand that we mean no disrespect by asking them.
Here are some short snippets to help you as you write the eulogy for your loved one who died of alcoholism. They are fictitious examples.
Example Eulogy for a Friend
Cynthia was one of the kindest people I've ever met. She would do anything for anyone. In fact, she literally gave me the shirt off her back when I spilled coffee on my blouse right before a big presentation.
She hid her acts of generosity at work, but I happen to be in a position that enabled me to see her acts of selflessness. For example, she would leave money on a coworker's desk who didn't have enough for rent, and she let several friends stay with her when they had nowhere else to go. Cynthia's heart was big, and she had a knack for knowing when someone was hurting and needing help.
Cynthia was also good about hiding other parts of her life. So, as her good friend, I pieced together her life after asking questions about her early life.
She was raised in an abusive home and left her family for good when she was 16. She spent her late teen years couch surfing and sometimes spent nights on the street. She never made amends with her abusive parents.
Cynthia also struggled with alcoholism, but she hid it well. Unfortunately, her addiction is the reason she lost her life and why we are gathered here today.
As Cynthia's best friend, I think she would want others to know about her struggle. In fact, I think she would like us to use her eulogy to encourage others to get help with their addictions. So, if you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol or other substances, please reach out to someone. The phone number for AA can be found on the back of the funeral program, as well as a list of other local resources.
While Cynthia's addiction didn't define her, it caused her early death. Please get help if you need it so that your friends and family don't have to say goodbye to you earlier than necessary.
Example Eulogy for a Family Member
We all know that Dad struggled with alcoholism. In fact, complications due to alcoholism ended his life. I want to take a few moments to address this issue today.
First, Dad knew he was an alcoholic and tried to get help many times.
He would go several months without drinking, and he was the perfect dad during those times. He would pick me up from school with fishing poles in the back of the truck, and we would spend the rest of the afternoon by the pond. We would go on road trips on Sunday afternoons and bring a picnic lunch – just the two of us. We even took a surprise trip to Disney World one March, and we were there from opening to closing time each day.
However, he always returned to the bottle. I wish he hadn't, but he did.
While I am sad and angry that my dad struggled with alcohol, today, I'm choosing to remember the Dad from Disney World. The one who was so excited to have his photo taken with Goofy. The Dad who could clean a fish faster than anyone, and the one who was a good friend to many of you.
Give Yourself Time to Write the Eulogy
Writing a eulogy may take longer than you realize – especially if the person had a complicated life. So if you are staring at your computer screen struggling with how to start the eulogy, consider skipping that section and going back to it.
Once you have a draft, read it to a small group. This is especially important if you plan to disclose something about the deceased to those gathered for the funeral. It's especially important to have the blessing of the immediate family members, including the parents, spouse, and children of the deceased.