"Grief. The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal." -C.S. Lewis
When you’re grieving the loss of a loved one who has just passed away, they and the impact they had on your life are all you can think about. All the precious memories, happy times, not-so-happy times, and everything else comes flooding back out of your memory bank and into your heart, leaving you little else room to think and sometimes even breath. When you’re tasked with giving the eulogy at their funeral, on top of that, life can be a little complicated for a few days… Now you’ve got to somehow take all those memories, climb up out of your personal emotions surrounding them, and write something coherent enough that can be understood and cherished by all those who will be attending the funeral.
Needless to say, it can be a daunting job. But as with so much else hard (but worth doing) in life, all you have to do is start.
You see, as you begin get your thoughts together on paper, one by one, the stories and memories you really want to share begin to paint the picture of the relationship you had with your loved one. You begin to really think about the flow of your speech, because you’ll want it to sound consistent and articulate to your listeners.
When you’re writing, sometimes it can really help to see an example. Eulogies by Aubrey has three right here on our website for you to look over and consider.
If you find that you’re really struggling with your thoughts and feel that you could use some extra guidance, check out our free eulogy template right here. It’s a great tool to have if you’re having trouble getting your thoughts in the right order, because it provides you with a structure for your eulogy while still allowing for complete personalization. If you need help filling it out or have any other questions or concerns, just send us a message here and we will be happy to assist you.
And of course Eulogies by Aubrey is always on standby ready to write your eulogy for you, should you decide that you would benefit most from our professional service. We have created a simple question-and-answer platform in which you can quickly and easily provide the information needed for us to create a 100% custom eulogy written in you own voice and style. We are honored to be of service.
“If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after he’s dead, then maybe he was a great man.” -James Dean
James Dean was a Hollywood actor, professional car racer, and undisputed icon of 1950s America. He was a teen heartthrob in his own right and a star whose name and image, to this day, represents coming-of-age angst and frustration. Though he lived only 24 years, the impact he had on his contemporaries, and pop culture as a whole, continues on.
EARLY LIFE, EDUCATION and CAREER
James Byron Dean was born February 8th, 1931 in Marion, Indiana, in the apartment where his parents lived. His father Winton came from a farming background, but dreamed of pursuing a career in dentistry, and so moved his wife and son to Santa Monica, California. As a young child, Dean was very close to his mother, Mildred, but when he was only 9 years old, the family lost her to cancer.
After Mildred’s death, Winton was not able to properly care for his son and sent Dean back to Indiana to live with an aunt and uncle. After graduating from high school there in 1949, he moved back to California to live once again with his father and new stepmother.
He initially chose to study law at Santa Monica College, but against his father’s wishes, changed his mind and enrolled at UCLA to study drama. His first acting “gig” was there at UCLA, when he was selected among a large pool of auditioners to play the lead role in “Macbeth.” Ultimately, James Dean did not graduate, but left college to pursue acting full-time.
As a young newcomer in Hollywood, Dean was determined but had a hard time finding good roles. He was cast as the beloved disciple in a television Easter special, and also got a few bit parts here and there. He was not one to give up, however, and enrolled at the famed Actors Studio under the guidance of legendary theater practitioner Lee Strasberg. His big break finally came in 1953, when he was cast a major role in Elia Kazan’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.”
If 1953 was a good year, 1955 was the year James Dean became a household name. He was cast the starring role in the much-anticipated “Rebel Without a Cause,” in which he played an emotionally-distraught teenager opposite Natalie Wood. Not wanting that role to be the cornerstone of his entire career, he took on a major role in the film “Giant,” opposite Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.
Although both films were released to critical acclaim, sadly, James Dean would never see either movies’ premiere.
Following production of “East of Eden,” Dean had decided to pursue a side career as a race car driver. He bought a couple of vehicles and entered into several races, excelling at them all. On September 30th, 1955, he was highway driving his new Porsche 550 Spyder (infamously named “Little Bastard”) to a race he was scheduled to compete in in Salinas. When a Ford turned left at a corner at an intersection just ahead of him, James Dean wasn’t able to hit the breaks in time, and a terrible collision ensued. The other driver survived, but Dean was mortally wounded, and taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was only 24. Interestingly, the junction at Highways 41 and 46 where he was killed no longer exists in its original state, but is now simply a pasture. In 2005, the location where he died was renamed the James Dean Memorial Junction.
His funeral was held on October 8, 1955 in his home state of Indiana, and was attended by hundreds of mourners. Thousands more paid their respects outside the Fairmount Friends Church where the service was held. He is interred at Park Cemetery in the City of Fairmount. In 1983, his original grave stone was stolen, and replaced by the one seen in this photo.
James Dean's grave, Park Cemetery in Fairmount, Indiana
LITTLE BASTARD'S "CURSE"
It’s a pop culture rumor that the Porsche James Dean was killed in is cursed. This rumor started in 1956 when the original buyer of Dean’s totaled car put it on display and used the “curse” to draw people in to see it. In any case, whether it be due to a curse or the mighty power of suggestion, others who have since owned the car or even original components of it were said to suffer behind-the-wheel accidents. In 1959, a garage housing the car caught fire, and to this day the cause is unknown. In 1960, the car mysteriously vanished.
Although his life was tragically short, James Dean’s contributions to cinema and pop culture continued to impact other young stars in their rise to fame in the years and decades following his death. Elvis Presley himself thought of Dean as a role model in many ways, so much so that he modeled his own image and career in Hollywood after the late actor. “I know by heart all the dialogue of James Dean’s films. I could watch ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ a hundred times over,” he once said. When asked about comparisons of himself to Dean in the media, Presley famously replied, “I would never compare myself in any way to James Dean, because James Dean’s a genius.”
Other stars, including Elizabeth Taylor, were impacted greatly by Dean and his short-lived career. Taylor once stated, “He was a very intelligent young man. I loved him…if it was just the two of us, he became very introspective and told me some things that just blew my mind.” Natalie Wood, with whom Dean starred in “Rebel Without a Cause,” said in a 1974 interview, “He was very aware of the fact that he was a star. There was no escaping it. Eyes were on him.”
James Dean was the first actor to ever receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination.
Thank you for reading about James Dean and his famous grave! I hope you enjoyed. Return here soon for more of our Famous Graves series (I so enjoy writing them!) In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Dean’s life and death, here are some links that may be of interest to you:
Many businesses have Resources/Help pages on their websites. The content within these pages can prove to be invaluable, and this is especially the case within the funeral industry. On our Resources/Help page at eulogiesbyaubrey.com, we strive to provide sincere, quality guidance for those who are grieving a pertinent loss, or who otherwise need it the most. We are updating our page continuously, as well as checking to ensure that links are still viable. Feel free to let us know if you have a link or website that would be of help to our site visitors! We are happy to share it.
From depression help, to info on home funerals, to tips for speaking a eulogy, here are just a few of the helpful resources we have listed on our page:
12 Quotes for Strength in a Time of Loss or Grief
4 Tips for Successfully Speaking at a Funeral
Speaking at a Funeral: Public Speaking Tips
Grieving the Death of a Child
Delivering a Eulogy
10 Comforting Verses for the Person in Grief
Stages of Grief That Commonly Follow a Miscarriage
How to Write a Eulogy and Speak Like a Pro
Free Eulogy Template from Eulogies By Aubrey
Depression Help from The Recovery Village
To see the rest of our Resources/Help page, click here. For a more in-depth list of helpful resources, please see our blog post "Helpful Resources for Those Dealing with Loss."
When you're looking for the best of a particular service out there, it's only natural that you have some questions. A FAQ (frequently asked questions) page makes it faster for you as a consumer to get the answers you are looking for from a business. Here are some answered questions from Eulogies by Aubrey's FAQ page, which we hope sheds some light on how we do things.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How much do you charge for a eulogy, and are there any additional fees?
Eulogies by Aubrey charges a one-time fee of $125 for an approximately 1000-word eulogy. There are no additional fees and any revisions you require are included in this charge.
How long will it take for me to speak my eulogy?
Your finished eulogy will contain approximately 1000 words and should generally take between six and eight minutes to deliver. If you would prefer a longer or shorter eulogy, please let us know.
How long will it take for you to finish my eulogy?
We will work to complete your order and have it sent back to you within 24 hours. If you need it sooner or within a certain time frame, please let us know.
How will you get my completed eulogy to me?
We will send your eulogy to the email address that you provide us on the order form. We will send it as a message and also as an attachment so that you may print/correct/utilize it how you wish. If you do not receive your eulogy within 24 hours, please check your spam folder. It will be sent from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I see one of your writing samples?
Yes. Click here to be taken to our Examples page.
I have suffered the loss of a child. Are you still able to help?
Yes. Please note that the form on our Order page is generally for adult loss. If you have suffered miscarriage, infant or child loss, please let us know in a message here. We have a special eulogy order form for you that we will send to you.
I recently lost my pet and plan to hold a service in their memory. Would you be willing to write a eulogy for them?
We would be honored. Our pets are our family and losing any one of them would be the same as losing a family member. Let us know in a message here, and we will send you a separate order form.
I am not able to pay your fee right now, but I still need help with a eulogy. What can I do?
We are very aware that not everyone has the means to hire a professional writer to assist them with their eulogy, or even family or friends who are able to help. But we believe that every loved one who has passed on deserves a quality eulogy. So we offer anyone who needs it a free eulogy template. Click here for more information. If you have questions or are in need of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
In today’s post, I want to share with you something the Lord pointed out to me this week during my quiet time with Him.
Working in funeral service and death care, it’s very easy to get caught up in aspects of dying. It’s only natural to ponder these kinds of things when you’re constantly thinking about it at work. Because well, that’s what you do when it’s your job. But even when you are just writing about it, there comes a point when you have to pull yourself away from the work and refocus yourself. As Christians, death is not where we’re supposed to be mentally and emotionally. We’re supposed to be focused on life and bringing others to eternal life in Christ.
October is upon us once again. The leaves are beginning to change colors and fall from their branches. Squirrels are hunting for acorns to store up for the coming winter. The air is becoming more and more crisp, and there’s an unmistakably different feel to it…almost as if you can feel the process of the equinox. As beautiful as this time of the year is, I’m always in tune to the fact that it all represents the dying process. That inevitable evolution away from life - warmth, green everywhere, flowers, birds singing, eggs and cocoons- and into death - a chill in the air, dryness and decay, darkness, stillness and silence.
Most people say, “This time of year is so beautiful! Look at all the stunning colors! Pumpkin spice! Sweater weather! Cozy evenings by the fire! Yay!” Quotes abound to honor the season… “Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” (Albert Camus) That’s one of my favorites, actually ;) Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely one of those people who loves all of this! Fall is my favorite season, and I love all the coziness, creature comforts and family time that come with it. But the fact that everything is fading away, dying really, is always in the back of my mind. It can bother me if I think too much about it. Can you relate?
When it gets cold outside and the sun does not shine as long during the day as it does in summertime, it can have a real effect on people. Many people begin to suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) about this time of year. It lasts on through winter and only begins to subside when spring breaks through. Maybe this is you. Maybe the anniversary of a pertinent loss is coming up, and this time of year you are always reminded of it. Maybe the death of a loved one is currently imminent, so the reality of it is very raw for you right now. Even if you’re simply struggling to see the beauty of life in the falling of the leaves, keep reading.
This week, God reminded me that even in fall - even in the midst of death - there is life.
In my meditation I was telling Him about what I just told you, how I love that He's blessed us with the beauty of fall and all the fun times and memory-making that comes with it. I told Him I loved it, but that it reminded me of death and dying, too. I told Him how it bothered me. I was visualizing a beautiful autumn wood as I was talking to Him and sharing my concerns. He guided my vision upwards toward a giant, golden tree. Leaves falling everywhere in a beautiful rain all around us, He told me (this is my interpretation): “The leaves on this tree may be dead and falling. But the tree itself is not dead, it’s very much alive. It has been alive longer than you can even comprehend. It’s roots run deep and it knows that in just a short time, life will spring forth from its branches once again.”
The tree itself is not dead.
Comfort swept over me as I processed what this meant. Yes, death is inevitable, just as is fall. We grow old, we may face a terminal illness, we experience the unexpected loss of family and friends. These earthly bodies will pass away, just as the leaves dry up and pass away from their tree. But the tree itself is not dead. As Christians, our bodies may be dead, but our souls remain very much alive thanks to the eternal life we have only in the eternal blood of Jesus. Because of Him, death has lost its sting. And one day, it will truly be no more! What a promise we have to look forward to.
I hope this realization blesses you as much as it has me. As you watch the colors change and the leaves fall away from their branches, I hope you see with new eyes the true beauty and message it has to share.
“Oh, the sweet life of a Christian that hath made peace with God! He is fit for all conditions: for life, for death, for everything.” Richard Sibbs
Happy Friday! Today we’re taking a look at the life, death, and famous grave of renowned guitarist James Marshall Hendrix, known the world over as Jimi Hendrix. He is described by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and by his devoted fans, as “the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” Even in death, Jimi Hendrix continues to shine as one of the most influential performers of all time.
Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle in 1942, and endured an unstable childhood. His family lived in poverty. His parents drank regularly and they struggled to properly care for their children; several of his siblings were sent to foster homes, and Jimi himself often stayed with his grandmother. When he was only 9, his parents divorced, and he went to live with his father.
Inspired to learn guitar by the famous musicians of his era, Jimi acquired his first instrument as a teenager. It was an acoustic and he loved it, but he soon realized that he would need an electric guitar if he was going to truly be heard while jamming with his friends on stage. The next year, his father bought him his first electric guitar, and the rest is history.
Jimi joined the Army in 1961, completed training as a paratrooper and was honorably discharged by 1963. After coming home, he began to pursue his interest in music full-force, and was eventually noticed and appreciated by Chas Chandler of The Animals fame. Chas helped him start up “The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” a band created with the purpose of promoting Jimi and his extraordinary talent on the guitar. The “Experience” helped to launch Jimi into worldwide fame, as more people came to recognize and remember his unique style of playing.
By 1969, the “Experience” had run it’s course. But Jimi Hendrix showed no signs of stopping. He was scheduled to headline a show at the much-anticipated Woodstock festival in New York in August of that year. One of the songs he played was his own version of the Star-Spangled Banner. With added technique to mimic the sounds of the Vietnam War, it proved to be the performance of a lifetime.
DRUG USE AND DEATH
Jimi had experimented with drugs for most of his adult life. But he wasn’t able to handle himself when his abuse of drugs was mixed with his penchant for alcohol. He was know to behave eradically and was especially prone to violence during these times. On September 18th, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died of barbiturate overdose while staying at Samarkand Hotel in London. It’s worth noting that the days and hours leading up to his death are disputed.
Jimi Hendrix was 27 years old when he died. 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of his passing.
FINAL RESTING PLACE
Jimi was buried at Greenwood Memorial Park in his home state of Washington, where his mother is also interred. In 2002, his body was exhumed from its simple grave and re-interred under a cenotaph befitting of his legacy. Every year, thousands upon thousands of people visit his famous grave to pay their respects.
Jimi Hendrix's grave in Renton, Washington
Several years ago, palliative nurse Bronnie Ware wrote a memoir entitled “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.” She collected first-hand quotes from those who were at the end of their lives, tallied them up and concluded the five most common regrets they shared.
By examining these regrets up close, we can get an idea of what we too can expect to feel (at least on a conscientious level) when one day at death’s door ourselves. Let’s take a look together, and see what we can learn while we still have the time.
Regret #1- “I wish I’d lived my life true to me, and not to the expectations of others.”
Everyone feels pressure from others, whether from parents, friends, or society in general. We all feel pressure to look a certain way, behave a certain way, and even feel a certain way. If we don’t, we’re considered “strange” or “different.” Those who are dying want us to say loud and proud, “So what?” This is your life and not anyone else’s. Do what brings you joy. Don’t waste time comparing your life to anyone else’s. Nothing is a competition or a race!
Regret #2- “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
The rat race gets most of down on a daily basis. Society says we must go to college and then to work, pay off our loans and contribute to our 401K for decades, only to retire with just enough time to live life how we actually want to. But the dying encourage us to take on a different perspective. It was never about the company or the money or the recognition, they say. All of that fades away. It was always about the relationships. Nurture them.
Regret #3- “I wish I had shared my thoughts and feelings more openly.”
It’s so easy to hold in our feelings. It’s not so easy to hold our tongue when we need to get a point across, but for some reason we do it all the time. The dying say, Stop! To think that one day we will be out of time like them, and will have lost our chance to tell our loved ones just how much they mean to us - or what was really on our mind the whole time. Think about that, and don’t let another opportunity to do so go to waste.
Regret #4- “I wish I had stayed better connected to my loved ones.”
This regret comes in at #4 on Ware’s list, but it may be the saddest of them all. Why do we keep our precious friends and family, who are so very important to us, in the back of our minds? After all, it should be so easy to keep in touch with loved ones, especially in this day and age of social media. But we’re just too busy and it’s too easy to think, “I’ll call them tomorrow.” Or, “I’ll reply to that text message once I’m done doing this…” only to forget about it entirely. No…call your loved one today. Reply to that text message sooner rather than later. Because the day is coming when one of you won’t be on the other end of the line.
Regret #5- “I wish I had been happier.”
Happiness is a choice - this is something that the dying wish they had realized sooner. Attitude really is everything, and true joy can be found in even the most unhappy of circumstances. Don’t take a single moment of life for granted. Live in the moment and really learn to be mindful of each and every breath you take, every bite of food you taste and every song you feel in your heart. Most of all, be thankful for what you have in life. You never know what the next day will bring…when it will all end…and when you’ll be out of time.
Learn more about Bronnie Ware and her memoir at her website: bronnieware.com/
If you have been asked to give the eulogy at the funeral of a loved one, your first thought is probably, “Yes! Absolutely I will. What an honor.” But after some time passes, you begin to think of everything that goes into the writing process. There are memories to gather and record, and important names and dates to remember. You have questions regarding how long your eulogy should be and whether or not you should include this or that. Once you do finally get all your thoughts together, you have to then figure out how you’re going to organize everything so that it makes sense to your listeners. Not to mention you are probably looking at a deadline.
Besides all of this, there are the inevitable emotions that will come with writing and preparing your eulogy - because you are literally sorting through memories in your heart of your loved one and all the times you had together. So…needless to say, it can be a very draining process.
Not everyone has the means to hire a professional writer to do it for them, or even family or friends who are able to help. So Eulogies by Aubrey is offering anyone who needs it this free eulogy template. All you have to do is copy the questionnaire we’ve created below, paste it into your word processor, fill in the blanks, and then print it out for the day of the funeral.
Please note: This is a very general outline that is meant for an adult. If you are needing a eulogy outline for a child, pet, or young adult, please message me here and I will be happy to send you a separate template. Generally speaking, eulogies contain about 1,000 words and take between 6 and 8 minutes to deliver. But this is by no means a rule. Your finished eulogy may be longer or shorter than that, depending on your answers. And of course, feel free to add your own sections if you'd like.
Hello everyone, and thank you for being here today. For those who don't know who I am, my name is _____________________ and I am ________________________'s _____________________. It's so very difficult for me to be standing in front of you today as we all prepare to say goodbye to ___________________, but at the same time I'm extremely honored to share with you a little bit about (his/her) life and legacy.
____________________ was born on ___________ to ____________ and ____________.
(He/she) passed away, much too soon, on _______________. There is no possible way for me to even try and iterate the life that was lived in between those two dates, but in the short time that I have today, I'm going to do my best.
___________________ grew up in ___________________, and spent much of (his/her) childhood in ____________________. (He/she) was one of ______ children. Childhood years brought with them many memories, one of which was _____________________
_____________________________________. Another story from childhood that _____
____________ liked to share was _____________________________________________
But carefree childhood days don't last forever, and soon _______________________ was a young adult and ready for adventure! At the age of _____, (he/she) decided that the time was right to ___________________________________________________. (He/she) eventually graduated from __________________________ and then made the decision to ___________________________________. (He/she) worked at _______
____________________ for ________ years.
The year was ______ when ____________________ met and fell head over heels in love with ____________________________. There was no other love story in history like the love story between ______________________ and _____________________! They dated for _________ and were united in matrimony on _____________________.
These two journeyed through the ups and downs of life together for ________ wonderful years...although I'm quite sure it wasn't nearly long enough.
For those of you here today who knew _____________________ in life, you probably know just how I'm about to describe who they were. To describe _________________
in just a few words is very hard, but if I had to, I'd choose the words ______________
_____________________________________. And if anyone knew how to live life to its fullest, it was ______________________. Some of (his/her) favorite hobbies included
(He/she) also loved _________________________________ and even _______________
____________________________. But something you may not know, is that ________
And if there was one thing that never failed to put a smile on (his/her) face, it was
While ____________________ enjoyed many things in life, (he/she) knew the great
importance of doing for others. It brought (him/her) great joy to be able to help out
(his/her) fellow man by ____________________________________________________.
(He/she) was also known to _________________________________________________
whenever (he/she) got the chance to.
_____________________ was extremely blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family in (his/her) life, many of which are here today. I just want you to know that (he/she) did not take any of you for granted. I pray that you will always hold close to your heart the wonderful memories you have of _____________________. I
know (he/she) did of you, too.
And _____________________ had so much to be proud of. But there is no doubt that (he/she) was certainly most proud of _________________________________________
Personally, I have so many cherished memories with ___________________________,
sweet, sweet memories that I will always keep close in heart and mind. And I will continue to re-visit these memories as the years go by. I want to share just a few of them with you, today, if I may. One time, ______________________________________
________________________________. Another precious memory I have is __________
And finally, I'd like to share one last sweet memory of __________________ with you all today: _________________________________________________________________
Before I close, I would like to share with you one of ____________________'s favorite (verse/poem/song lyric/quote). I think it really shows just what kind of a person
_____________________ was and just how full (his/her) heart was: ________________
Thank you all again for being here as we say goodbye to ________________________.
I know that the past several days have been extremely difficult for us all, but I
hope that we can find peace in knowing that ______________________ is at peace now. No more pain, no more suffering, no more death. I also want to show my gratitude to ______________________________ for _____________________________
as we've gone through the motions and plans for today. There is not one word of encouragement or support that was spoken to us over these past several days that we will not be eternally grateful for.
Last but not least, I want to say thank you, and goodbye for now, to ______________.
You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten. Your memory and legacy will live on as we do, in our hearts, minds and souls forever. I love you, ___________________.
We hope that this template brings you a little bit of reassurance that yes, you can create a quality eulogy in memory of your loved one without any unnecessary struggle. Remember, if all else fails, Eulogies by Aubrey is available 24/7 to help you write your eulogy. We are honored to be of assistance.
August 31st, 2019 will mark the 22nd anniversary of the tragic death of Princess Diana. Born into aristocracy as Diana Frances Spencer in 1961, she became Diana, Princess of Wales, upon her marriage to Prince Charles. She was destined to be the future Queen of England, but fate would not allow it.
Diana grew up in Norfolk, England on the Sandringham Estate. She was only six years old when her parents divorced. This event saddened her deeply and affected her for the rest of her life.
When her school days were done, she took several different jobs, from nannying to restaurant cook. She was quickly noticed by the paparazzi when her courtship with Prince Charles began in the late 1970’s…the cameras would never leave her alone from then on.
Diana married Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, on July 29th, 1981. The day was deemed the ultimate “fairy tale wedding” by the press, but the actual marriage would prove quite the opposite of a beautiful fairy tale. Despite all of the glamour and smiles, Diana would later admit that her wedding day was “the worst day of my life.”
Little did the public know, during their engagement both Diana and Charles had serious doubts about their love for one another. These doubts would lead to terrible rumors and infidelity. Both of them had affairs during the marriage, with Charles resuming a relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowels-- a flame from his past he never quite got over. Diana always knew about this relationship, and it caused her much mental and emotional turmoil.
Despite sharing two children, William and Harry, the couple’s relationship was irreconcilable, and in 1996 they were officially divorced.
Although no longer a member of the royal family, “The People’s Princess” remained beloved by the public, not only in Britain but all across the globe. Her death therefore came as a total shock to the entire world.
On August 31st, 1997, Diana and her companion, Dodi Fayed, were in Paris. They had just left the hotel where they were staying and were being hounded by the paparazzi. Their driver crashed their Mercedes in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, fatally wounding Dodi and the driver. Only her bodyguard came out of the wreck alive, although critically injured and having lost any memory of the event. Diana was mortally wounded and died after being taken to a local hospital. She was 36 years old.
Funeral procession of Princess Diana
Her funeral was broadcast to the world from Westminster Abbey. Her brother Charles, the Earl Spencer, gave a moving eulogy that criticized both the paparazzi and also the royal family for their treatment of his sister. She was laid to rest at Althorp Estate in Northampton, England, on a picturesque island known as the Oval.
Princess Diana's gravesite
Diana’s legacy was one for the ages, and she will never be forgotten. Her contributions to humanity served to bring about progress in many areas…from eradicating stigmas surrounding AIDS, HIV and other diseases, to raising awareness of existing landmines. Diana’s personal touch remains, and her legacy lives on in her children and grandchildren.
To read more about the life and death of Princess Diana, see here:
Em-balm /əmˈbä(l)m/ (verb)
1. to preserve [a corpse] from decay, originally with spices and now usually by arterial injection of a preservative.
2. give a pleasant fragrance to.
Embalming rates in the United States have begun to drop, as cremation (and other more economical, eco-friendly alternatives) becomes more popular.
But there was a time not all that long ago when embalming was the most popular option for final disposition.
In ancient times, specifically in ancient Egypt, embalming came by way of mummification. Priests studied and became skilled at the process of removing the organs of the deceased. These organs would be preserved with certain spices and fragrances and kept in jars, and a salty mineral called natron would be used to dry out the rest of the body. The body was finally wrapped in linens before it was ready for burial. This whole process took 70 days. The ancient Egyptians believed that preserving their loved ones like this would allow their spirits to one day return again to the in-tact body, so that they could live forever.
Throughout history, there are other ancient cultures- the Mayans and Aztecs come to mind- that utilized embalming in one way or another. But in the United States, it all started with the Civil War.
The Civil War is known as America’s bloodiest conflict. As battles raged on, the body count began to climb to drastic numbers. When soldiers were identified, if possible their remains needed to be sent back to their families for a proper funeral. But it often took days, if not weeks, for the bodies to arrive back home, and by then, decomposition could be severe. The railroads were not willing to transport these bodies, due to odor and fear of disease. For this reason, mass graves were the unfortunate answer to the problem.
Enter Thomas Holmes, aka “the father of American embalming.” He was a mortician with a better solution. Before the war, he had studied and experimented with various forms of preservation, and ultimately decided that arterial injection was the best way to preserve the whole body. Arterial injection is the main method used to this day to embalm.
Holmes began to produce and sell his own embalming fluid. He was first hired by the Union army to embalm a few soldiers that had been killed in battle, and that were needing to be shipped back to their families. He charged $100 for each case he completed.
Embalmer at work during Civil War era.
Word of Holmes’ essential work began to spread. President Lincoln himself was aware of the great need for embalming during the war, and so authorized it for the fallen. After the war was officially over, embalming continued to gain popularity as funeral parlors took advantage of the market. By the early 1900s, it had become mainstream in America. Over time, arsenic was replaced by formaldehyde as the preservative of choice.
Embalming is still very common in modern funeral practice. But as cremation, natural burial, alkaline hydrolysis (more on that in a later post!) and other forms of final disposition gain in popularity, it’ll be interesting to see where embalming will be in 10, 15, or 20 years.