How the public eulogy can help us deal with private grief
What is the purpose of these expressions of grief? What are we doing, when we make public our feelings about the death of a person? What does it mean, to eulogize a famous person or a loved one?
These are questions that have fascinated Julia Cooper since her own mother died at the age of fifty seven.
Her death sent shockwaves through Ms. Cooper's eighteen-year-old world, and set her on a path no teenager should ever have to walk: that of figuring out grief — wrestling with it, trying to tame it and place it into some kind of manageable context.
The result of that journey is a slender volume called The Last Word: Reviving the Dying Art of Eulogy.
Julia Cooper is a culture writer and film critic based in Toronto. She is the former managing editor of cléo, and her writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Vogue, Hazlitt, and elsewhere. She recently completed a PhD in English literature from the University of Toronto.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air… .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
— John Gillespie Magee, Jr