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Chris Raymond

A Rose by Any Other Name

By November 7, 2012

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Rose & Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Several years ago, at the funeral for a coworker's father, I witnessed a member of the clergy commit an unforgivable sin -- he got the name of the deceased wrong during the eulogy.

It wasn't obvious or glaring, like calling him Peter when his name was actually Frank. Instead, it was subtle, like calling him Allen when his name was Albert. And he only did it once, about midway through. Regardless, I heard it, and I immediately felt awful for my coworker and her family.

I can't really blame the clergyman; he wasn't the first and he won't be the last to eulogize someone whom he's never met. A growing number of people in our society do not attend church, yet they still want a "church funeral" when they die. And if a family member or friend cannot or will not deliver a eulogy, then members of the clergy, celebrants or some other officiant often will after collecting the necessary biographical data on the deceased.

If you ever find yourself in the position of writing and delivering a eulogy for a loved one, just remember one thing: get the name right!

How would you react if someone misspoke the name of your loved one during a eulogy? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photo James Gritz/Getty Images

Comments
November 9, 2012 at 8:49 am
(1) Tony says:

I understand the hardship of doing a eulogy when a loved one dies and it is not always easy for a family member to do one. Perhaps it is better in circumstances like these that a eulogy isn’t given but perhaps music can be played and the people that were close to the deceased can reflect on their own the treasured memories they have.

In my mind, this would be much more thoughtful and meaningful than having a “stranger” recite a few words in their memory.

November 14, 2012 at 12:25 am
(2) William Housley says:

Honestly, I think I’d be a little upset at first, but would eventually realize that whomever delivered the eulogy is certainly nervous and must feel awkward. Think about it: they are speaking about someone who is recently passed in front of people who are emotionally unstable and upset.

In many cases, the eulogy deliverer does not actually know the deceased person. What can you really expect? Coupled with the reasons that I gave above, you can’t really blame the person for being confused and accidentally forgetful.

In the grander scheme of things, it was an honest mistake. The mis-pronouncement of someone’s name is minuscule in comparison to the situation and events at hand. I say brush it off; remember that everyone is human and we all make mistakes. It was a accident.

November 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm
(3) Pennwye says:

When the VFW chaplain referred to my father as “Robert” when Dad’s burial ceremony began at a National cemetery, I, his only child, said loud and clear “Albert.” “My father’s name is Albert.” The chaplain stopped, looked at me, said nothing, and started reading the standard soldier’s prayer again from the beginning, this time saying my father’s name and continuing to use my father’s correct name throughout the service. Dad was only going to have one burial service and it was critical to me that the chaplain call him by his given name. Sometimes you have to speak up.

December 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm
(4) Adam says:

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December 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm
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