Name: Erwin M. Davis II
Occupation: Eulogist and owner of Erwin Eulogies
Fitting the essence of a person into roughly 1,000 words is draining. So, when he writes, Erwin M. Davis II surrounds himself with nature, specifically a hidden corner of Harrison Bay State Park along the water. The peaceful seclusion helps him digest the memories and find the words to eloquently portray life lost.
Davis is the owner and eulogist of Erwin Eulogies, which helps families write eulogies after a loved one has passed.
When someone commissions a eulogy, he schedules a one-hour session with six people who knew the deceased well, asking questions that get to the heart of who the person was; though he sometimes writes living eulogies as well. He then takes that conversation and immediately begins to write. He's on a time crunch, after all. Sometimes, the final draft will need to be given at a funeral within a couple of days.
Davis writes his first draft in a maximum of 20 hours, then waits for feedback. He will continue to workshop the eulogy until the family feels their loved one has been captured. It's a hectic couple of days with Davis devoting all of his mental energy and pouring as much emotion into these words as possible, but it's all worth it, he says.
His words serve as a final tribute, a celebration of life, love and healing. It's important those words are right, and he'll do anything to get it that way.
» I'd been trying to do something business-related for about three years, and I started wanting to do stuff with charities, nonprofit organizations, because I've always been big into giving gifts to people. But it never provided me with the sort of internal love I was looking for. I was giving people strategies to raise funds, but I wasn't putting any of myself into it.
» I wanted whatever I did to be my thing. I've always been a good writer, but I never really see it as that. I was in the writing academy when I was in third grade, so I've been writing consistently for pretty much my entire life in different forms.
» My best friend's sister died and I made a choice to go up and talk about her. And I got up there and I did it, and it was great. You could feel the congregation remember this person. Then I started to think that maybe I'd be good at writing people's eulogies. I don't like boasting about my writing, but I felt like I could do something in a way that not many people can.
» When I use my words, I think "How can I make this sound like a monologue on Broadway for this person's life within 1,000 words that will make them sound regal, explorative as their life goes within this margin of this moment for this occasion?"
» Last year I wrote one for my friend in Spanish, so we had to translate it. She gave it to her mom as a Valentine's Day gift. That was my first sale as a eulogist. I saw her reaction to the monument that she gave her. She hung it up in her home right next to the TV. That's when I thought this could work. I felt good about this.
» There's no other eulogist in Chattanooga. Not only can I say it's mine, but I get to also try to be the best at it in every realm because it is something that's so off the main road of what you would normally do as a writer.
» I'm a writer because I write things. The kind of profound and pithy reason I give people is I provide gifts to individuals who have lost someone.
» I try to pick out points where I think the feelings and emotions can be universally understood throughout the person's life. I key in on those moments, and all the years that happened in between, those moments are just sprinkles on top of those. Instead of trying to condense that entire life into these short few words, let's take a look at some of the moments that make this person who they are and make the people around that person who they are because of that person, and magnify that and create the memories.
» To me, it's the last time you get to really, really, really remember this person. While we're in the moment, let's try to get some good out of everything.
» Death is the ultimate everything, so you have to find something good or otherwise it will kill you.
To learn more or contact Erwin Eulogies, visit erwinmdii.com.