Appropriate funeral readings

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Tracy Barnes, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. Tracy Barnes

    Tracy Barnes Registered User

    Jan 29, 2012
    Hello there, my name is Tracy and my elderly Father passed away on Thursday having suffered the double whammy of Alzheimer's and vascular demerntia for many years. Am now trying to organise his funeral but finding the 'usual' readings either completely banal or inappropriate. My Dad slipped into another room yonks ago bless him. Has anyone else been there and managed to find something fitting? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I'm not particularly religious and am experiencing a gamut of emotions. I thought it would be a relief when it finally happened but find once again my dear old dad has left me with a pickle to sort out as best I can.
    Many Thanks, stressed of Stafford x
  2. together

    together Registered User

    May 25, 2010
    Hi Tracy, So sorry to hear about your Dad. I know everything will be a blur at the moment. Have just actually sent a verse we printed on Mum's service to a frien for her Dad so have got it in front of me now. It's
    Do not stand at my grave and weep......

    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there, I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints in the snow
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning's hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    of quiet doves in circled flight.
    Iam teh soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry
    I am not there, I did not die.

    Sending love and strength Katherine x
  3. #3 PamD, Jan 29, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012
    Hi Tracy,

    Sorry to hear about your loss, but perhaps your dad's release from suffering.

    When my aunt (non-dementia) died in November we got a "Civil Celebrant" to conduct the ceremony at the crematorium, as she was not at all religious. The celebrant was very helpful with suggestions, though we actually filled most of the time available with family stuff and one of her book group reading a poem they'd chosen: "She is gone" by David Harkins - you can google it, and it might be possible to use it putting "He" instead.

    (There's a website for the Institute of Civil Funerals here:

    She was very good in coordinating stuff, sourcing the music we wanted, organised everything, and it was a great help - we were organising a funeral in London from far away and deciding things amongst 7 nieces and nephews, so there was scope for chaos but she helped a lot. The undertakers put us in touch with her, as an alternative to a minister of religion or British Humanist Assoc celebrant. I'd heard of the latter, but with them you can't have anything remotely religious: with a civil celebrant we chose to have a little Christian blessing ("The Irish blessing" which starts: "May the road rise to meet you," and a little Jewish prayer ("In the rising of the sun - and in its going down - We remember her" etc), to comfort her friends of both faiths (she played bridge up at the local synagogue!).

    I hope you manage to find words and music which will support all the family and friends and help give your dad a good send off.

    Best wishes, Pam
  4. JoshuaTree

    JoshuaTree Registered User

    Jan 2, 2010
    Sorry to hear about your Dad.
    Maybe write your own feelings down for a reading?
  5. tre

    tre Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
    I read this one for my mum. I particulaly liked"speak to me in the easy way you always used". My mum lost a lot of her speech early on in her dementia and I wanted to have her in my mind the way she was before she got this terrible disease.

    Death is nothing at all
    I have only slipped away into the next room
    I am I and you are you
    Whatever we were to each other
    That we are still
    Call me by my old familiar name
    Speak to me in the easy way you always used
    Put no difference in your tone
    Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
    Laugh as we always laughed
    At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
    Play, smile, think of me ,pray for me
    Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
    Let it be spoken without effort
    Without the ghost of a shadow in it
    Life means all that it ever meant
    It is the same as ever it was
    There is absolute unbroken continuity
    What is death but a negligible accident?
    Why should I be out of mind
    Because I am out of sight?
    I am waiting for you for an interval
    Somewhere very near
    Just around the corner
    All is well.
    Nothing is past; nothing is lost
    One brief moment and all will be as it was before
    How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again

    I also had the minister read this:
    She( He) is Gone

    You can shed tears that she is gone
    Or you can smile because she has lived

    You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
    Or you can open your eyes and see all she has left

    Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
    Or you can be full of the love you shared

    You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
    Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

    You can remember her and only that she is gone
    Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

    You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
    Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on

    I hope someone comes up with something suitable and send you my condolences on the loss of your dad
  6. Mo_N

    Mo_N Registered User

    Oct 29, 2009
    South East Essex
    In Sympathy

    Have you seen the Joyce Grenfell poem? I used it at my aunt's funeral because it seemed to sum up the fact that we were sad at her leaving us but with her health problems we were also relieved her suffering was over.


    “ If I should go before the rest of you,
    Break not a flower, nor inscribe a stone,
    Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice,
    But be the usual selves That I have known.
    Weep if you must:
    Parting is hell,
    But life goes on
    So...sing as well!”
  7. piedwarbler

    piedwarbler Registered User

    Aug 3, 2010
    South Ribble
    I sometimes read the poems in the poem section on this site, and think that I might use one of them for a reading at Mum's funeral. I don't know if you have had a look at them, or would think it suitable.

    I have picked out a poem by Charles Causley about parents that I rather like, it is something about being reunited with your parents and as my mum misses her mum and dad dreadfully and talks about them a lot, I thought it would make a nice reading, as it comforts me to think she will be with her parents again when she dies. If you like the idea I will dig it out for you. x
  8. jude50

    jude50 Registered User

    Dec 28, 2011
    I like this one I have read in my Poetry Please book. It's 'A Song for Living' by Amelia Josephine Burr.

    Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
    I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky
    I have run and leaped with the rain, I have taken the wind to my breast.
    My cheek like a drowsy child to the face of the earth I have pressed
    Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

    I have kissed young Love on the lips, I have heard his song to the end.
    I have struck my hand like a seal in the loyal hand of a friend.
    I have known the peace of heaven, the comfort of work done well.
    I have longed for death in the darkness and risen alive out of hell.
    Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

    I give a share of my soul to world where my course is run.
    I know that another shall finish the task I must leave undone.
    I know that no flower, nor flint was in vain on the path I trod.
    as one looks on a face through a window, through life I have looked on God.
    Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

    Thinking of you
  9. CaPattinson

    CaPattinson Registered User

    May 19, 2010
    West Yorks
    Hello Tracy, I'm sorry for your loss.

    I just wanted to give you my experiences of celebrants. The same one spoke at both mum and dads. He talked only to my dad about mum and the words he said at mums funeral weren't appropriate.

    He talked to my brother, SIL, me and my daughter about dad and the 'service' for dad was just right, perfect.

    I'm only saying this because as far as I am aware you don't see what the celebrant is going to say before the service. I think it is something to bear in mind.

    I hope you find what you are looking for.
  10. I think it must vary a lot - we had the full text of everything that she was going to say, and including what I and my cousin were going to say, before the service (she had to have all our bits so she could check for timings). I didn't meet her face to face (distances) but talked a lot on the phone. But obviously something to check before choosing who to have to take the service.
  11. handyjack

    handyjack Registered User

    Oct 6, 2011
    Whatever you choose to say, as long as it comes from the heart, that's all that matters.
  12. mothergoose

    mothergoose Registered User

    Jan 26, 2011
    Poole Dorset
    Hi Tracy
    Sorry to hear about your dad, please accept my sincere condolences for your loss.
    Big hug hun x

    With regard to a poem/reading I found this the other day, don't know if it is any use, but I feel it sums the loss of loved ones to dementia long before they actually go. :(

    You didn't die just recently,
    You died some time ago.
    Although your body stayed a while,
    And didn't really know.
    For you had got Altzheimer's,
    You failed to comprehend.
    Your body went on living.
    But your mind had reached its end.
    So we've already said, "Goodbye",
    To the person that we knew.
    The person that we trully loved,
    The person that was, "You".
    And so we meet again today,
    To toast your bodies end.
    For it was true and faithful,
    Until right at the end.
    And so, when we remember,
    We'll think of all the rest.
    We'll concentrate on earlier,
    And remember all the best.
    For in the real scheme of things,
    Your illness wasn't long.
    Compared to all the happiness,
    You brought your whole life long.
    We think of you as yesterday,
    When you were fit and well.
    And when we're asked about you,
    It's those things that we'll tell.
    And so we meet in 'membrance,
    Of a mind so fit and true.
    We're here to pay our last respects
    To say that, "We love you".
  13. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Wigan, Lancs
    I'm sorry for your loss Tracey. At my dad's funeral my niece read a poem that has nothing to do with death, but is more about the things my dad loved in life. We tried to make my dad's funeral about his life rather than his death, and to put the dementia years into perspective of what had been, for many years, a fulfilled life.

    Whatever you choose I hope it speaks to you.
  14. Dollychris

    Dollychris Registered User

    Feb 3, 2011
    South Wales
    Just speak from your heart and be prepared for lots of tears.........................

    I am in tears reading some of the poems and verses but honestly think that it is what you remember about your parents that count.
    I composed something about our Mum who we lost in September that just went back to when and how she met my Dad. How proud she was of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and how the kettle was always on the boil the moment we visited. I didn't talk about her illness but about her life and a lot of people learned a little more about her that they did before. Her Great Grandchildren nearly always visited her and my Dad on the way home from hospital and they took such pleasure in being the first to be visited by the new baby. I remembered happy times and doing that brought back lots of lovely times - not the sad ones. Speak from your heart Tracey and the rest will become fitting and appropriate to his memory. I am so sorry for yur loss. It is something we know is inevitable and you think you will be ready but you never are but take comfort that your Dad is back with those he loved. I keep remembering my Mum is back with my Dad and the comfort that brings is so great. Sending hugs your way at this sad time.
    Chris xx
  15. tre

    tre Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
    With regard to the celebrant I think they can make all the difference. I am not religious and my mum and dad were not churchgoers but dad wanted a minister for mum and also we did have some churchgoers amongst the family and did not want to offend. When my nephew died they had a humanist service and I was pleased how gentle the service was. There was a point where we were asked to reflect quietly on the life of Ben or if you are religious for prayer. For my mum the local ministers were busy that day so the funeral directors put us in touch with a lady minister from The Old Catholic Church who was brilliant. She took a great deal of trouble to talk to us about mum before and everyone said how lovely it was. She even put in something which none of the rest of us noticed but which meant a lot to one of my uncles who is a Jehovahs Witness. Dad said he wants her when he goes.
    I am sure it will be fine on the day. I have found it is not the poems that get to me but the music. My nephew had Mr Tambourine Man when the coffin went away and this song always fills me up and mum had Louis Armstrong's Its a Wonderful World which is her and dads favourite song and they had both said they wanted years before when mum was well.
    With all good wishes,
  16. CaPattinson

    CaPattinson Registered User

    May 19, 2010
    West Yorks
    Hello again. Just wanted to explain a bit better about the unfortunate words the celebrant chose at mum's funeral. He had only spoken to my dad, who in the main remembered much about when they were young and first met (understandable) so much was about 'how it was in their day' Not so much about us, me my brother and mum. And it was something said by dad quoted by the celebrant that wasn't right.
    I admit, I was too distraught to have any input - I regret that so very much.

    So as has been said, go with your heart, choose how you want your dad to be remembered, the good things, the funny times and all will be well.

    For us too, at dad's funeral there was a point where we were asked to reflect quietly on the life of dad or if you are religious for prayer.

    Best wishes xxxx
  17. sistermillicent

    sistermillicent Registered User

    Jan 30, 2009
    I am sorry for your loss. Getting a funeral right is so important, and so deeply personal.
    So I am putting my thoughts here, they are not advice, I wouldn't want it to be taken like that.

    At my uncle's funeral the vicar focussed on the aggressive and difficult person he had become due to Alzheimers, I was so glad when my dad got up to do a reading and said some impromptu words that he had been the most fun person and the most exciting uncle ever.

    The reading at his funeral was from Little Gidding, the very last section, by TS Eliot, not everyone's cup of tea but it makes birth, life and death seem complete to me and is what I would want at my own funeral.
  18. CaPattinson

    CaPattinson Registered User

    May 19, 2010
    West Yorks
    Just one more thing I forgot. For my dad, as well as the celebrant speaking, my daughter read a poem, chosen by her and her sister. That was very touching.:)
    She said she did for me, which was lovely.

    From the replies here its shows how very personal this is.
  19. Christin

    Christin Registered User

    Jun 29, 2009
    Hello Tracy, welcome to Talking Point. Please accept my condolences at this sad time.

    We decided to celebrate my FIL's life, more than hold a funeral. We felt that was what he wanted, although he never talked about it. It is such a personal decision, though. Just go with your own intuition, you have to be happy with the arrangements, and feel it is right.

    We found this poem, its author is unknown, but we felt it was almost perfect for him. We also hoped it would help his grandchildren recognised that he had another life before dementia.

    I'd like the memory of me
    to be a happy one.
    I'd like to leave an afterglow
    of smiles when life is done.
    I'd like to leave an echo
    whispering softly down the ways,
    Of happy times and laughing times
    and bright and sunny days.
    I'd like the tears of those who grieve,
    to dry before the sun
    of happy memories
    that I leave when life is done.

    It can be so stressful, trying to get everything right, but I hope you can find some comfort in making these arrangements for your father.

    Very best wishes xx
  20. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    Dad's funeral

    I wrote a piece as though it was my Dad speaking, thanking people like my mum and my children for what they had meant to him and what he wished them for the future. I felt I knew him well enough to put those thoughts in words. I did have to ask the minister to read it though as I know I wouldn't have been able to get through it myself. It was certainly a lot more personal and appropriate than getting the minister to to talk about the life of a man he'd never met.

    The minister then went on to give some totally inappropriate Bible reading about fire and brimstone and I remember thinking of Dad lying there muttering "B******s".

    It will be a non-religious service for my mum when the time comes. No readings, just some music and time for contemplation. Then a small family get-together some time later for a meal to celebrate her life.

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