Mary Killen

Your Problems Solved | 31 August 2002

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Dear Mary...

Q. I refer to your advice on giving eulogies (Your problems solved, l7 August). Is not 'eulogy' suggestive of de mortuis nil nisi bonum, and therefore of formal praise which does not truly honour the dead? That aside, may I add to your wise words, because what to say at a memorial service is so important, and I learnt much from being thrown in at the deep end first time round - a devastatingly sad suicide. A wise old cleric provided me with the simple truth that it was 'not a failure of love but a failure of hope'. And that led to the most important general truth: that your audience is neither yourself nor the multitude, but the truly bereaved, and it is for their comfort that you should speak.

Name and address withheld

A. Thank you for taking the time to share this valuable insight. May I take this opportunity to also thank J.A. of Derbyshire who sent me his own useful guide to giving funeral addresses to be passed on to my correspondent B.W. of Sutton Coldfield. J.A. points out, 'There is no need to dread being asked to give a funeral address. Remember the sympathy factor. Everyone in the congregation is thinking,