What it Takes to Write Good Remembrance

Late in 2009, soon after I began writing this blog, my husband’s mother was dying, and we were making lots of notes about her long life. Before we sat down to write a remembrance, however, we looked around on the web for ideas, hoping to find some examples to read. Not much was available. There were plenty of fill-in-the-blank templates, but locating well-written and thoughtful pieces that made an effort to remember and eulogize a departed friend or family member was difficult.

A week ago, when I read writer Mona Simpson’s eulogy/remembrance of her brother, Steve Jobs, my first thought was that it is one of the finest that I can remember. Since it appeared in the October 30, 2011 New York Times, I’ve sent the link or handed a copy of Simpson’s piece to half a dozen other people to read. Everyone reacts the same way that I did — it’s good.

Yes, the eulogy was about a rich and famous man, but that wasn’t the point. Simpson wrote exactly the kind of remembrance that each of us would like to write (and delivered it at Steve’s memorial service). She shared her own experiences with her brother, offered some stories, told a bit about what she had learned from him, and most importantly, described in some detail how he affected her life. These are precisely the areas that any of us should attend to when we sit down to write about and remember another person.

You may want to read three past posts about remembrances.

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