Meaningful reflections and prayers

Meaningful reflections and prayers

CHOOSING meaningful funeral readings and reflections is the final way to remember a loved one, through celebrating the things they most loved in life while providing solace to the grieving family.

The chosen readings can be both religious and personal, incorporating favoured poems or quotes as well as traditional passages from the bible. While relatives are welcome to participate in the mass, nobody is under obligation on such a sad occasion.

The readings include the first reading, responsoiral psalm, second reading, Gospel reading and prayers of the faithful. Family members are encouraged to select appropriate scriptures for these; your local priest will be able to advise you on options to choose from.

In choosing a fitting piece for reflection, popular funeral poems include 'Footprints in the sand', 'Do not stand at my grave and weep' and 'Death is nothing at all'. You could also use a selection of poems or songs which were personal favourites of the deceased.

Reading a funeral prayer is difficult to deliver so it's helpful to practice reading it beforehand out loud, read slowly, clearly and directly into the microphone. Also, double check you have your reading with you before leaving for the church.

If you're in a situation where you can pre-plan your funeral, it would be helpful to prepare the readings in advance so as they fully express your life and pay a fitting tribute.

 

Footprints

One night I dreamed a dream.

As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.

Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.

For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,

One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,

I looked back at the footprints in the sand.

I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,

especially at the very lowest and saddest times,

there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.

"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,

You'd walk with me all the way.

But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,

there was only one set of footprints.

I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."

He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you

Never, ever, during your trials and testings.

When you saw only one set of footprints,

It was then that I carried you."

 

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 on 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 birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there, I did not die.

Mary Frye, American poet (1904 – 2004)

 

Death is nothing at all

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 own familiar name

Speak to me in the easy way you always used

Put no difference into 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 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!

Canon Henry Scott-Holland, Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral (1847 – 1918)

 

When I think of death

When I think of death, and of late the idea has come with alarming frequency, I seem at peace with the idea that a day will dawn when I will no longer be among those living in this valley of strange humors.

I can accept the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else.

I find it impossible to let a friend or relative go into that country of no return.

Disbelief becomes my close companion, and anger follows in its wake.

I answer the heroic question 'Death, where is thy sting?' with ' it is here in my heart and mind and memories.'

Maya Angelou

 

They are not dead

They are not dead,

Who leave us this great heritage of remembering joy.

They still live in our hearts,

In the happiness we knew, in the dreams we shared.

They still breathe,

In the lingering fragrance,windblown, from their favourite flowers.

They still smile in the moonlight's silver,

And laugh in the sunlight's sparking gold.

They still speak in the echoes of the words we've heard them say again and again.

They still move,

In the rhythm of waving grasses, in the dance of the tossing branches.

They are not dead;

Their memory is warm in our hearts, comfort in our sorrow.

They are not apart from us, but part of us,

For love is eternal,

And those we love shall be with us throughout all eternity.