Saying Goodbye To Pete: Unlocking Grief With A Heartfelt Eulogy

Eulogy - Centrepiece Writing Studio - Shannon Marshall - Victoria, BC

It’s never easy to say goodbye. 

And when you’re a working Mom with two energetic young boys, and you’re placing an offer on a new home – as well as preparing your current home for sale – it can be pretty hard to find time to do anything beyond basic daily survival, let alone work through grief and loss. Let alone think about what you might say at the memorial.

That’s where my client Sarah was at, as she prepared for her Dad Pete’s service. *

Sarah sent me her handwritten notes, and although she warned me they were a mess, a clear theme emerged to me right away.


When you don’t know what else to do, fix something

Dad could fix things.

Although always willing to listen, my dad wasn’t my ‘go to’ for emotional help – that is Mom of course.  But Dad could fix everything else to at least help make our physical world a little better. It was a way he could show his support.

Dad was never satisfied with just fixing something. What was the point of that?  He always had about five different ways to fix something and it was very important that everyone knew and understood each of those ways.  

Otherwise, what was the point?

When I called my dad about a mouse in our house he came right over to help.  After — of course —  stopping at Canadian Tire to pick up every different type of mouse trap on the shelf.

Because why not do a scientific study on which type works best while you’re at it?

Dad believed that you might as well do it right if you were going to bother doing it at all…why use a nail when you could use a screw?  

My world feels a little broken without him right now.


I rearranged her notes for clarity, worked out the pacing, provided a light all-over word massage, and identified a few spots that needed a little extra oomph.  

From a jumble of heartfelt bits and pieces, emerged a solid structure to support her at the podium. 

The tribute Sarah delivered clearly conveyed her love for her Dad and his unique life:  from his genuine love for his family, to his weekend hobby of living the life of a pioneer fur-trader. 

The audience laughed in the right spots and teared up in others. 


Twine can fix pretty much everything.  And if it doesn’t, you aren’t thinking it through enough.

Dad would say ‘There is more than one way to skin a cat’.  Every problem can be solved if you think hard enough about it. His way wasn’t always the conventional way.  But in the end, Pete’s way was always the right way.

My dad was very intelligent.  He understood the world in a way that people admired.  There was little he didn’t know, and if he found something he didn’t know, he’d read up on it.   

He loved to debate, but it was frustrating to debate with him because he knew so much.  And he was usually right.   

I think Dad would get frustrated with our lack of knowledge about the things that mattered to him.  

But for the most part he forgave our ignorance… well, eventually.  🙂


Not only did this collaborative process help Sarah with her confidence, but she also gratefully acknowledged that it helped open some much needed space to grieve.

By speaking in her own authentic voice and celebrating her Dad’s story with her community, she connected with the power of her own story.

Pete would have been so proud of his daughter, and I am so honoured to have helped her find just the right words. 


* Shared with client’s permission.

Leaf - Centrepiece Writing Studio - Shannon Marshall - Victoria, BC

Shannon Marshall

Hi - I’m Shannon, a speechwriter for all occasions, and owner of Centrepiece Writing Studio. I write heartfelt speeches, handcrafted just for you.

If you need a hand finding just the right words for your toast, eulogy or milestone celebration, I've got you covered. I'll help you tell your story.

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Shannon Marshall - Centrepiece Writing Studio - Shannon Marshall - Victoria, BC

Centrepiece Writing Studio is grateful to operate on the traditional lands of the Lekwungen people, now represented by the Songhees and Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) nations...
The glorious land commonly known as Victoria, BC.

With great respect for the earliest residents of our shared coastal home, CWS strives to uphold our mutual values of storytelling and environmental stewardship.

Flower - Centrepiece Writing Studio - Shannon Marshall - Victoria, BC