The first anniversary of a death might start with a slow, dull awareness that the weather is similar to the weather of a year ago. And the grieving person might sink a little deeper into grief again -- just when they thought thing might be easing. But this is the beginning of the next beginning. You'll find readings here for both a PHYSICAL GATHERING or a VIRTUAL GATHERING. Find ceremony templates here.
As we look back over time
We find ourselves wondering
Did we remember to thank you enough
For all you have done for us?
For all the times you were by our sides
To help and support us
To celebrate our successes
To understand our problems
And accept our defeats?
Or for teaching us by your example,
The value of hard work, good judgement,
Courage and integrity?
We wonder if we ever thanked you
For the sacrifices you made.
To let us have the very best?
And for the simple things
Like laughter, smiles and times we shared?
If we have forgotten to show our
Gratitude enough for all the things you did,
We're thanking you now.
And we are hoping you knew all along,
How much you meant to us.
-- Clare Jones
Everything that slows us down and forces patience,
everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.
Gardening is an instrument of grace.
Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit,
who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth,
and without light, nothing flowers.
-- May Sarton
I have to believe
That you still exist
That you still watch me
That you still love me
I have to believe
That life has meaning
That I am useful here
That I make small differences
I have to believe
That I need to stay here
For some time,
That all this teaches me
So that I can meet you again
-- Ann Thorp
I shall pass this way but once;
any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being;
let me do it now.
Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
-- Etienne de Grellet
We are not sure of sorrow,
And joy was never sure;
To-day will die to-morrow;
Time stoops to no man’s lure;
And love, grown faint and fretful,
With lips but half regretful
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
Weeps that no loves endure.
From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.
Then star nor sun shall waken,
Nor any change of light:
Nor sound of waters shaken,
Nor any sound or sight:
Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
Nor days nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
In an eternal night.
-- Algernon Charles Swinburne
Now I am gone, now I am lost to you
Find me again just as you used to do:
In the house – when you go from room to room you’ll find
The bits and pieces that I’ve left behind.
In the street – of course . . . I’ve stopped to window-shop;
You carry on, my love, I’ll catch you up.
At night – as darkness slowly fills the sky:
I’m late; don’t fret; I’ll be there by and by.
At morning – when the sky is still blue-black,
I had to go out early: I’ll be back.
In sunshine – as you peer into the glare –
A shape that seems to be both light and air.
In rain – as you look out and people pass –
One leaves a reflection printed on the glass.
In the garden – when you doze away the hours
I pass with a smile on my face, and my arms full of flowers.
-- Lisa Kitson
It is easily forgotten, year to
year, exactly where the plot is,
though the place is entirely familiar
a willow tree by a curving roadway
sweeping black asphalt with tender leaves;
damp grass strewn with flower boxes,
canvas chairs, darkskinned old ladies
circling in draped black crepe family stones,
fingers cramped red at the knuckles, discolored
nails, fresh soil for new plants, old rosaries;
such fingers kneading the damp earth gently down
on new roots, black humus caught in grey hair
brushed back, and the single waterfaucet,
birdlike upon its grey pipe stem,
a stream opening at its foot.
We know the stories that are told,
by starts and stops, by bent men at strange joy
regarding the precise enactments of their own
gesturing. And among the women there will be
a naming of families, a counting off, an ordering.
The morning may be brilliant; the season
is one of brilliances sunlight through
the fountained willow behind us, its splayed
shadow spreading westward, our shadows westward,
irregular across damp grass, the close-set stones.
It may be that since our walk there is faltering,
moving in careful steps around snow-on-the-mountain,
bluebells and zebragrass toward that place
between the willow and the waterfaucet, the way
is lost, that we have no practiced step there,
and walking, our own sway and balance, fails us.
-- Michael Anania
We trust that beyond absence there is a presence.
That beyond the pain there can be healing.
That beyond the brokenness there can be wholeness.
That beyond the anger there may be peace.
That beyond the hurting there may be forgiveness.
That beyond the silence there may be the word.
That beyond the word there may be understanding.
That through understanding there is love.
The rays of light filtered through
The sentinels of trees this morning.
I sat in the garden and contemplated.
The serenity and beauty
Of my feelings and surroundings
Completely captivated me.
I thought of you.
I discovered you tucked away
In the shadows of the trees.
Then, rediscovered you
In the smiles of the flowers
As the sun penetrated their petals
In the rhythm of the leaves
Falling in the garden
In the freedom of the birds
As they fly searching as you do.
I’m very happy to have found you,
Now you will never leave me
For I will always find you in the beauty of life.
-- Walter Rinder
Before the sublime mystery of life and spirit,
the mystery of infinite space
and endless time, we stand in reverent awe . . .
This much we know:
we are at least one phase of the immortality of life.
The mighty stream of life flows on, and, in this mighty stream,
we too flow on . . .
not lost . . . but each eternally significant.
For this I feel: The spirit never betrays the person
who trusts it.
Physical life may be defeated but life goes on;
goodness lives and love is immortal.
-- Robert G. Ingersoll
They who stand with breaking hearts around this [little] grave, need have no fear. The larger and the nobler faith in all that is, and is to be, tells us that death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest. We know that through the common wants of life—the needs and duties of each hour—their grief will lessen day by day, until at last this grave will be to them a place of rest and peace—almost of joy. There is for them this consolation: The dead do not suffer. If they live again, their lives will surely be as good as ours. We have no fear. We are all children of the same mother, and the same fate awaits us all. We, too, have our religion [belief], and it is this:
Help for the living—Hope for the dead.
-- Robert G. Ingersoll, adapted