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How to write a Heartfelt Eulogy for Mom

I wasn’t planning to speak at my mom’s memorial service.  I could not have said anything at my dad’s service 18 years prior or my husband’s funeral 4 years ago.  Being in shock and on the verge of tears had made the idea of speaking in front of people an impossible task.  The night before my mom’s service I wrote down a few thoughts, just in case.  This is what I read on the day we said goodbye to mom:

I’ll be fine until I’m not. That is the quote I heard at the end of the Downton Abbey movie we watched the other day.

And it hit me – that was my mom. She was fine and then she wasn’t.

Hindsight they say is 20/20. We had noticed some changes in mom the past few years. Aches in her knees seem to be easily cured with a shot from Dr. Blue eyes and when she discovered the rooster comb shots, she was feeling ready to dance again.

As a close family member it is hard not to want to analyze what happened. To get hung up on the shoulda, woulda, couldas. To have regrets: If we had only known this we could have done that. And also the creeping in of guilt for all that was left unsaid.

But we all know Addie and that is not what she would want us to spend our energy thinking about.

She wanted a joyous celebration of her life. She wanted to be remembered for how she made us feel when we were with her. And she wanted us to share her stories.

So here are a few of mine:

She was the best mom and we had the childhood you read about with nostalgia from the 1970s. On days off from school we would have a bowl of cereal and maybe a soft boiled egg. Then she would send us outside.

There was no app called 360. We didn’t have a cell phone for her to call us. We just knew that around 5 pm we better be close by and ready to run when we heard the dinner bell ring from the back porch or we would be in trouble. Being late for dinner was not an option.

Our earliest vacations were not to exotic island resorts. For years we visited her sister Aunt June and her family for Thanksgiving and Easter. First we would drive the 9 hours to Virginia Beach and in the later years it was a 9 hour trip to Maine. Awesome memories made together with our cousins and of our moms singing silly songs they had learned together in Girl Scouts.

Mom did the stay at home mom thing perfectly. She was a “class mom” and active with the PTA and Girl Scouts. She enjoyed designing our clothes and once started, would make matching outfits for herself and all 3 of her kids.

We often only had one car so we literally stayed home with mom. I remember one Christmas season – money must have been tight. She put Mitch Miller and the Band record on the stereo. Then she went through the stack of record albums and picked a few she didn’t listen to very often. She put them individually over a pot in the oven and they melted. Instant chip bowls. She wrapped them up and mailed them to all the relatives for Christmas gifts. I sure hope they appreciated her efforts and our old albums that year!

Another early memory I have of mom was waiting for dad to come home. It was their wedding anniversary – maybe 7 years since we were living in Rocky Point. She had prepared dinner and then changed her clothes. She was wearing her wedding dress. I’m sure I remember this because she must have looked like a princess. She was always so pretty.

She loved writing poems and decided to put them in a self published book called Alligators, Monsters and Cool School Poems. One day she was invited to a school to teach poetry to the children. She had found her calling.

For 30 years she enjoyed visiting schools all over the country sharing her love of poetry and writing to children and teachers. I was fortunate to be tutored by her as an assistant on several occasions during college.

My first job in education was working in California at a summer program teaching poetry. You can only imagine how excellent my lessons were.

After making some of her own money Mom traded in her sewing machine for a credit card to Marshalls.  Shopping therapy became her new hobby.

My sister Karrin and I had fun going through her  many different beautiful and colorful outfits, stunning jewelry and oh so many scarves this past week. We invite you to come back to the parish hall after the service and help yourself to one of her gorgeous scarves to wear in memory of Addie.

It wouldn’t be a proper eulogy without mentioning what meant the most to mom. That was her family. She was so grateful for all of us. She loved all her grandchildren and enjoyed watching each of them develop their talents and personalities.

Being in a loving relationship with Phil and having opportunities to travel were the highlights of her golden years.

And she loved her 3 kids.

When my husband Mike died she was there to help me through my grief. She felt my pain as she had been there too after my dad died. Without pushing me too much she was so happy that I had met someone, a pretty awesome someone, who I could share my life with. Love the second time around had worked for her and she was hopeful that I would find happiness and love again as well.

I think that once she saw I was married and happy again she was OK that her job here on Earth had been done.  Dave and Karrin were both happy and doing well and all the grandkids were thriving. Never one to stay too long at a party, like Lady Grantham on Downton Abbey, she agreed:  she would be fine, until she wasn’t.

So today we would like to remember mom.  Remember her laugh, her smile and the way she lit up a room.  Thank you for sharing this day with us.


Eulogy to Mom


At the age of 51 I unexpectedly became a widow. For the first 6 months after my husband died, I was in shock and numb. I journaled and with the help of friends, family and therapists was able to get back to living my old life, even if it is now very different. Before I was married, I had spent a semester in England and backpacked around Europe. My husband and I moved from New York to California for 8 years and started a family. Travelling took a back seat to raising a family and going to work everyday. Since the loss of my husband I have visited a lot of places with family and friends and took a solo trip to Thailand. I am enjoying sharing my stories and adventures as well as some of my insights to how I am traveling the path of being a widow. I hope to share my stories and adventures as well as some thoughts on being a middle aged widow. While I have some great experiences traveling to Thailand and cruising to Central America, some of my adventures involve a trip to see a Broadway show in nearby Manhattan and a shopping trip at Bed, Bath and Beyond. If I can inspire anyone to go out and continue to live a good life that would be my greatest accomplishment.

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6 Responses

  1. Judy Gerthoffer says:

    Thank you Kristin, for sharing your words, stories and flowers! Your eulogy is beautifully written, heartfelt and descriptive of times I knew of and times I did not. I so wanted to be there for her funeral, tried and tried to find a way but just could not manage it! You gave me a glimpse and of that, I am grateful!
    For a couple of years at Oneonta, we were the “4 Roses”, then we added an out of town “sister”, Judy W. S.; then another sister with a Round Robin letter before email and FB! We stayed close and loved seeing her in FL every year so she will be very missed this year!! Have a glass of wine for me in remembrance, please. Loved her so much, Judy Gallien Gerthoffer

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