The commemorative event may happen quickly after death, or may be scheduled for some time later. Here are some poems, prayers and blessings for every setting, whether AT HOME, AT THE CREMATORIUM, OR AT THE FUNERAL HOME. Find ceremony templates here.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen
This body that has borne her all her life from birth to death,
that gave her breath to live and sight to see,
that has served her every need, that has shown you the beauty of her unique person
in its eyes and made you aware of her presence in your heart,
and without which she would be a mystery to you;
we now return to its source with the grace it deserves from us,
without our attachment to it but with our lasting love for her.
May perpetual light shine upon
The face of he who rests here.
May the remembering earth
Mind every memory he brought.
May the rains from the heavens
Fall gently upon him.
May the wildflowers and grasses
Whisper their wishes into the light.
May we reverence the village of presence
In the stillness of this silent field.
Adapted from a poem of John Donohue
Death has nothing to do with going away.
The sun sets
The moon sets
But they are not gone.
In this short Life that only lasts an hour
How much - how little - is within our power
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.”
― Maya Angelou
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.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
I carry your heart with me (I carry it in
My heart) I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
By only me is your doing, my darling) [or Dear Grandpa?]
I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
No world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
And it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
And whatever a sun will always sing is you
Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
And the sky of a tree called life; which grows
Higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
And this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)
Her early leaf’s a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.
Blessed are those who give meaning to our lives;
holy and precious is the example they leave behind.
We pray: May our sorrows diminish as we recall their strength.
May their wisdom protect us and help us to live.
Let our grief be transformed into tenderness for those who are still with us.
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