Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Finally Giving a Eulogy for My Husband

Ten Speakers -- I am hiding 
in the middle of the back .

After my husband's Saturday morning memorial service, three people were scheduled to give a eulogy at the lunch at our house. His son and Kenny gave their reflections and then my husband's family had to leave. The buffet food was ready and so we started to dish up.  It turns out I never gave the eulogy on my husband that June 28th as planned. I looked for that opportunity to shout his praises and celebrate his life. 

Toastmasters has a Speak-a-Thon on those rare fifth Mondays. June 30, 2014 was a fifth Monday in 2014. Ten people can speak in a Speak-A-Thon at our Toastmasters club. When I went online to the club's web site, there were nine speakers for June 30. I signed up for the tenth spot--a chance to speak from my heart about the sterling qualities that my husband exhibited during his Alzheimer's--my eulogy at last. My Professional Speaker's manual said 15 to 20 minutes. I would use all those minutes and loved pouring out my heart to a captive, friendly audience of the club my husband had accompanied me to some Monday evenings. My motivation and goal for the speech was to grieve well as I honored him and was truthful about my feelings. 

What I did say:
  • My husband was often called the most mild dementia patient anyone had contact with. For example, my Alzheimer's Association facilitator "Ann", who has authored on this blog, said so and she knew us well. 
  • My husband showed intelligence during the disease. We didn't have to argue about driving as others have. He said, "I wish to be a passenger."
  • My husband's humor shown forth during the disease as you often saw on this blog. 
  • He had filters and manners (many dementia patients don't). He did not embarrass me by what he said or did. 
  • He accepted the disease and his own death. Recently he told Kenny that he was "done" with all of the moving from the Geri chair to the wheel chair, and then to the bed. 
  • As a Christian couple we both knew he was going to be at home with Jesus in heaven and we talked about that.  
  • I so miss HIM--even HIM with his disease
  • I referenced Ira Byrock's The Four Things That Matter Most--the importance of saying I forgive you, thank you, I love you and good-bye. I understand that book much more now. 
What I didn't say but might have if I had had the time:
  • I received phenomenal help last week from out-of-town people. What a lift as we got ready for the memorial and the lunch following that at our home. 
  • I have way too much food in the house now.
  • What valuable lessons I had learned from the first time I was a widow. That's another speech (or a blog post here). 
Other Toastmaster speakers last night said:
  • Most people regret what they didn't do.
  • Don't give people power over you. 
  • "The current processes are designed for the course you are on." I think that David Gallistracce is credited with this quote.  
At the end of the Toastmaster meeting, I got notes about my speech. Here is a sampling:
  • Beautiful display of love for your husband!
  • You made me smile and touched me at the same time!
  • Class, character, courage, Carol!
  • Raw and powerful!
Life is worth living, people are worth loving even if they die, and let the grieving process begin. This morning I meditated on this powerful Scripture:

[You] will not remember the reproach 
of your widowhood anymore.
For your Maker is your husband,
The LORD of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.
Isaiah 54:4-5


  1. I'm glad you had a chance to do this eulogy/speech at Toastmaster's, Carol. God definitely did orchestrate this from start to finish with the timing of your husband's death in a month with 5 Mondays, nine others signing up already, etc. Your husband handled his illness with grace and dignity, I'm not sure how many others would have been able to do so the way he did, and same to you, Carol, you handled his disease with love and grace and compassion, something I'm not sure I am capable of. It is neat that you had the help you needed to get things ready for the memorial service. I know God will be right there with you as you grieve and continue to grieve.


    1. Thanks, Betty. It did feel good to do it and people were amazed I could speak a week after his death. This was God's grace.

  2. What a touching tribute to your husband, Carol. I know that being able to express your thoughts and feeling will help in the healing process. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    1. Got more into grieving today when I went out by myself. Now hubby wasn't able to go out with me before he died, but he was there at home. Probably should just have enjoyed getting out without having to get back right away. But saw places we had eaten. Wanted to tell him things. Looked at gravestones. Ate at a restaurant by myself. Got in touch with loneliness.

  3. Carol, Elbert and I moved to Wakefield after he started coming down with Alz. so the people there never knew the Elbert that I have loved for so long. So, I decided that I would give the eulogy at his funeral and I did. I wanted our Wakefield friends to know the man they never had the opportunity to know. I don't know where the strength came from (well, yes, I do know) to do it but I did.

    1. Yes, that was the LORD in you that enabled you to tell his story.

  4. My Dear Friend,
    I guess one is to say I am sorry, but I am glad for Hubby he is now free from this damn disease. Do not morn him but rejoice in the time the Lord gave to you both and be at peace. Now my friend it is time to open the windows and doors let the stench of this disease start to leave your home. Cleanse your house and all the linens and get rid of this disease. It is time for my dear friend Carol to start to live.
    May God Bless & Keep You,

    1. Dear Joe,

      What a gift you are to our Alzheimer's community, Joe! You not only have
      Early Onset Alzheimer's, but tirelessly you invade the blogosphere with your wisdom and even videos.

      About starting to live now, yes and yes. Like you, yes, we did things all through my husband's disease, even when he couldn't remember what we did. Yes, my experience as a widow previously means a whole set of insights and emotions.

      May God have the glory in how we live and die. "O Death, where is your sting? . . . But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." I Corinthians 15:55, 57-58

      Hugs and prayers for you and yours,

  5. Best post ever! My heart is full after reading this post, Carol! Thank you for sharing it! I love you and continue to pray for you... my internet friend and sister in Christ!

    1. O Georgene,
      You have been there for me, and for that I am ever so grateful. Love the LORD in you. My heart is full with your Internet hugs and chats.One of these days before heaven, we have to meet in person!