There are ceremonies you can create before a person dies that can be meaningful and healing. A LIVING MEMORIAL is a gathering and ceremony for a person who is present and alive before their death. The readings in GROUP READINESS can be used in ceremonies that help people come together, align their intentions, and become mindful together, rather than head into painful situations alone. Find ceremony templates here.
Time is a wheel: the day that we met
Is still there:
Everything changes but nothing is lost:
All that we shared,
All that we ever loved, belongs to us still:
Time is a wheel
Whatever has ended is just about to begin
All that we feel,
All that we ever felt, will come back again
Time is a wheel
The sound of your laughter, the rain in your hair,
Your hand in mine,
Your knock at the door, your step on the stair -
All are still there
Because time is a wheel and death will come round
As birth will come round
As love will come round, as peace will come round,
As joy will come round,
As life will come round, because time is a wheel
Bringing back even yet,
All that we ever shared , and the day that we met.
My daily practice is to wake and
immediately bring my attention to this thought:
“I am one day closer to my death. So how will I live
this day? How will I greet those I meet?
How will I bring soul to each moment?
I do not want to waste this day.”
-- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43
Sometimes as a antidote
To fear of death,
I eat the stars.
Those nights, lying on my back,
I suck them from the quenching dark
Till they are all, all inside me,
Pepper hot and sharp.
Sometimes, instead, I stir myself
Into a universe still young,
Still warm as blood:
No outer space, just space,
The light of all the not yet stars
Drifting like a bright mist,
And all of us, and everything
But unconstrained by form.
And sometimes it’s enough
To lie down here on earth
Beside our long ancestral bones:
To walk across the cobble fields
Of our discarded skulls,
Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,
Thinking: whatever left these husks
Flew off on bright wings.
-- Rebecca Elson
No-one has marked out the road
you are to take
out in the unknown
out in the blue.
This is your road.
will take it. And there's no
And you haven't marked your road
And the wind smoothes out your tracks
on desolate hills.
-- Olav Hauge
Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, in answer to a TIME magazine reader, who asked, “What is
the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” said this:
“When I look up at the night sky and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in
this Universe, but perhaps more important than most of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up — many people feel small, because they’re small, the
Universe is big — but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars. There’s a level of
connectivity — that’s really what you want in life. You want to feel connected, you want to feel
relevant. You want to feel like you’re a participant in the goings on and activities and events
around you. That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive.”
-- Neil DeGrasse Tyson
When despair for the world grows in me
And I wake in the night at the least sound
In fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
Rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
Who do not tax their lives with forethought
Of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
Waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
-- Wendell Berry
I lay my head to rest
and in doing so
lay at your feet
the faces I have seen
the voices I have heard
the words I have spoken
the hands I have shaken
the service I have given
the joys I have shared
the sorrows revealed.
I lay them at your feet
and in doing so
lay my head to rest
And You Held Me
and you held me and there were no words
and there was no time and you held me
and there was only wanting and
being held and being filled with wanting
and I was nothing but letting go
and being held
and there were no words and there
needed to be no words
and there was no terror only stillness
and I was wanting nothing and
it was fullness and it was like aching for God
and it was touch and warmth and
darkness and no time and no words and we flowed
and I flowed and I was not empty
and I was given up to the dark and
in the darkness I was not lost
and the wanting was like fullness and I could
hardly hold it and I was held and
you were dark and warm and without time and
without words and you held me.
--J anet Morley
I have opened unto you, the fate of my being
And like a tide, you have flowed into me.
All the channels of my spirit and the recesses of my soul
Are grown sweet with your presence
You have brought me the calm of great tranquil waters
And the quiet of summer seas
Your hands are filled with peace as the Moon tide
Is filled with light
About your head is bound the eternal quiet of the stars
And in your heart dwells the gentleness of dusk
I am clear and still
For I have opened unto you the wide gates of my being
And like a tide, you have flowed into me.
-- Adapted with abandon from Eunice Tietjens by Kim Farley
Pippin said: ‘I didn't think it would end this way.’
‘End?’ said Gandalf. ‘No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path... one that we
all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back,
And all turns to silver glass...
And then you see it.’
‘What?’ Said Pippin, ‘Gandalf?... See what?
‘ White shores... and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.’
‘Well,’ said Pippin smiling, ‘that isn't so bad.’
‘No’... replied Gandalf softly. ‘No it isn't.’
-- JRR Tolkein
I give thanks to those that I am about to invite!
I ask that this room, this home or building and the grounds become a sacred space.
I invite the Divine to be present.
I invite Great Spirit, Mother Father God to be present.
I invite Great Mystery to be present.
I invite the Compassionate and loving Ancestors to be present and I give thanks to them,
because without them we couldn't be here.
I invite the Great Teachers and Masters to be present, especially those that we have
connections to and affiliations with.
I invite the Angels, the great beings of light, especially the Archangels, the guardian angels
angels of love and the angels of healing.
I invite the Power Animals, the Totems, and I give thanks to them for loaning their power, their
qualities, their protection and for relationship.
I invite the Healing Spirits of all the realms and give thanks for the healing that I know is going
I invite the Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Sacred Space...and I ask for a balancing and
harmonizing of the Elements.
I invite the Compassionate Spirits and Devas.
I Invite the Earth, the Sun and the Moon.
I give thanks to the Stars and the Compassionate Star People.
I invite the Directions and the Guardians of the Directions
I invite the Four Great Winds.
I give thanks to the Great Spirits of the Land and I ask to be in harmony with you and to prosper
I give thanks to the Spirits of this place for allowing this work and this prayer to happen here in
a good way.
And as always, I give thanks in advance for the blessings that I know will happen here.
-- Betsy Bergstrom
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
-- Philip Larkin
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
-- e.e. cummings
Nights when it’s warm
and no one is watching,
I walk to the edge
of the road and stare
at all the fireflies.
I squint and pretend
bright made-up waves
of the brain.
I call them,
I call them,
It’s been a long time
since I’ve wanted to die,
it makes me feel
like taking off
my skin suit
and seeing how
my light flies all
on its own, neon
and bouncy like a
-- Ada Limon
Don’t just stand there with your hair turning gray,
Soon enough the seas will sink your little island
So while there is still the illusion of time,
Set out for another shore.
No sense packing a bag.
You won’t be able to lift it into your boat.
Give away all your collections.
Take only new seeds and an old stick.
Send out some prayers on the wind before you sail.
Don’t be afraid.
Someone knows you’re coming.
An extra fish has been salted.
-- Mona Santacroce
Know that everything you do and everything you have done has been a contribution to The Whole. Bless-ed be who you are.
When the time comes for your Eternal Spirit to leave this Earthly body …
Your wings will unfurl, the breath of the wind will uplift you, and you will be born anew without effort. For where you are going there is no pain, no fear, no heartache. There is only love.
You will breathe one last breath while your spirit occupies your physical body, and with the next in-breath you will breathe a breath of great Light. You will feel more love than you have known for a long, long time. For you are going Home.
In the turning of the seasons, the love within your heart, the love of your being has expanded into fullness and now settles in peace to rest.
In the dawn of ages, your spirit has celebrated your essence which, once again, is to be made new.
In the flowing of the rivers, know beyond a doubt of doubts the truth that your spirit is truly one with the Divine Whole.
One Heart … One Mind … One Spirit … One.
You are the blessing. You are the peace. You are the love.
You are the Light within the holiness.
You are the Flight within the freedom.
You are the Essence in the center of the blossom.
This is who you are, and much, much more.
Much, much more.
-- Anara Solray
Healing Potentials Unlimited, Copyright 1999
On that fatal day when my casket rolls along
Do not think my heart is in this world.
Do not cry, do not cry with anguished moans,
For that is a pit a demon has dug, and only that is sad.
When you see my procession, don't cry, "Gone, gone!"
For me it is a time of meeting and reunion.
As you lower me into the grave, don't say, "So long."
The grave is a veil before the gathering of paradise.
When you see that lowering down, consider a rising.
What harm is there in the setting of a sun or moon?
What seems a setting to you is a dawning.
Though it may seem a prison,
This vault releases the soul.
What seed goes into the earth and does not grow?
Why are you doubting this human seed?
What bucket goes down and does not come up full?
Why should the Joseph of the spirit resent the well?
Close your mouth on this side and open it beyond,
For in the nowhere air will be your song.
-- Jelal ad-Din Rumi
One night when you were just a star,
someone hung every hope, every wish, every dream,
they ever had from your limbs,
so if you ever feel inferior,
ever start to doubt your beauty or brilliance just remember:
you have constellations lining the cathedral walls of your chest,
a moon for a heart
and the sunlight pouring through your skin,
you are a symphony of stardust
and you were born to shine.
-- Tyler Kent White
I shall live beyond death, and I shall sing in your ears
Even after the vast sea-wave carries me back
To the vast sea-depth.
I shall sit at your board though without a body,
And I shall go with you to your fields, a spirit invisible.
I shall come to you at your fireside, a guest unseen.
Death changes nothing but the masks that cover our faces.
The woodsman shall be still a woodsman,
The ploughman, a ploughman,
And he who sang his song to the wind shall sing it also to
the moving spheres.
If I should die tomorrow, which I might
Even with spring so new and the wind blowing
Flowers up from the earth and the great white
Clouds piled over the mountains; even knowing
That I should die and all the things we share
Be stricken from my careful grasp forever
Stars and gold sunlight warm upon the hair,
Your smile and the moon dancing in the river,
If I should die tomorrow, do not weep,
For I could never rest hearing your sorrow.
Deeper than love of life, my love is deep
For you. And if my life should end tomorrow
Bravely I’d close my days, however few,
Knowing I left the best of them with you.
I’ve walked along this road
For a long time now.
I know I’ll have to turn somewhere,
To my beginnings.
Along the way
The leaves have fallen off me,
So I walk this road
With only the bare bark
Of my own winter.
It’s the last that is left of me
And the best
To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
- Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, verses i-ii, iv, vi-viii (Before Death, After Death, Funeral, poem, religious)