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I was recently invited to contribute a piece of writing to commemorate a friend who has passed away. My writing, along with others, were compiled into a book that was passed out at the funeral; these were memorial tributes "in memoriam" of my friend, some prose and some poetry, but certainly not "obituaries." Is there a better word or phrase to refer to this type of writing than "eulogy," which, as far as I know, generally refers to a praise-filled speech?

Eulogy: A speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, especially a tribute to someone who has just died (Source: Oxford Dictionaries)

EDIT: These writings range in tone from elegiac to eulogizing, which is why I hesitate to use the word "eulogy" as a blanket term.

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  • Memorials? Memoria?
    – Jesse M
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:40

4 Answers 4

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I believe you are speaking of an elegy, or elegiac writings:

a sad poem or song : a poem or song that expresses sorrow for someone who is dead

[Merriam-Webster]

Also consider lamentation:

an expression of great sorrow or deep sadness

[Merriam-Webster]

If you were attempting to find a word that fits all of these different types of writings, you might generally classify them as commemorative:

intended to honor an important event or person from the past

[Merriam-Webster]

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  • The OP said they did not want to call it elegiac or elegies.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 13:14
  • Elegy and eulogy are not the same.
    – ringo
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 13:55
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Commemorative is best. It is like a small biography. I am writing several paragraphs about my mother's life as a handout. I like this term better than eulogy for this. Her life speaks for itself.

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  • Yes. The word "commemorative" certainly used to exist as a noun, but the most recent example the OED has is from the seventeenth century 1649 F. Roberts Clavis Bibliorum (ed. 2) 31 A Commemorative of that wonderfull deliverance. 1669 T. Gale Court of Gentiles: Pt. I ii. viii. 110 Commemoratives of some Divine presence. Are you aware of people speaking of such tributes as "commemoratives", or of "writing a commemorative"?
    – WS2
    Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 7:32
  • @WS2: Googling "a commemorative for" shows that "commemorative" as a noun is still very much in use for stamps and coins, and is occasionally used for other artwork. I think it sounds fine, although elegy might be better for a piece of writing or music. Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 11:25
  • @PeterShor I usually see "commemorative" used as an adjective in the context of coins and stamps as in The Royal Mint has issued a commemorative coin honouring Stephen Hawking. Numismatists and philatlelists refer to "commemoratives" because, in their contexts coins and stamps can be assumed; a coin collectors' magazine might talk about "the Stephen Hawking 50p commemorative" for example. However to me this still sounds like an adjective, merely with the noun elided.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 12:03
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piece of writing

I'd say it counts as a collection of Eulogies.

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The book of condolence(s), also called "condolence register", contains condolence messages.

Condolence definition (Cambridge dictionaries online): ​sympathy and ​sadness for the ​family or ​close ​friends of a ​person who has ​recently ​died, or an ​expression of this, ​especially in written ​form.

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