These are just a very few of the possible readings for a funeral.
(Please note that only Scripture Readings are permitted at Catholic Funerals and these ‘Reflections’ are not meant to be used at Requiems)
Do not stand at my bier 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’s 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 bier and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.
[Native North American prayer]
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 into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we 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 on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
there is absolutely unbroken continuity….
Why should I be out of your 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
“You know how little time we have to stay,
“And, once departed, may return no more.”
Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
Today of past Regrets and future fears….
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and – sans End!..
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
Our revels are now ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded in a sleep.
[Shakespeare, The Tempest, III, iv ]
The rich and the poor listen to the voice of death;
the learned and the unlearned listen;
the proud and the humble listen;
the honest and deceitful listen;
the old and the young listen.
But when death speaks to us, what does it say?
Death does not speak about itself.
It does not say “Fear me”.
It does not say, “Wonder at me.”
It does not say “Understand me”.
But it says to us:
“Think of life;
Think of the privilege of life;
Think how great a thing life may be made.”
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 ]
Birth is a beginning
And death a destination
But life is a journey
A going — a growing
From stage to stage
From childhood to maturity
And youth to age.
From innocence to awareness
And ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to discretion
And then perhaps, to wisdom.
From Weakness to strength
Or strength to weakness
And, often, back again.
From health to sickness
And back we pray, to health again.
From offense to forgiveness,
From loneliness to love,
From joy to gratitude,
From pain to compassion,
And grief to understanding —
From fear to faith.
From defeat to defeat to defeat —
Until, looking backward or ahead,
We see that victory lies
Not as some high place along the way,
But in having made the journey, stage by stage.
A sacred pilgrimage.
Birth is a beginning
And death a destination.
But life is a journey,
A sacred pilgrimage —
Made stage by stage —
To life everlasting.
…a poem addressed from the one who has passed away, to his/her family:
Family o’ mine:
I should like to send you a sunbeam, or the twinkle of some bright star,
or a tiny piece of the downy fleece that clings to a cloud afar.
I should like to send you the essence of a myriad sun-kissed flowers,
or the lilting song as it floats along, of a brook through fairy bowers.
I should like to send you the dew-drops that glisten at break of day,
and then at night the eerie light that mantles the Milky Way.
I should like to send you the power that nothing can overthrow –
the power to smile and laugh the while a-journeying through life you go.
But these are mere fanciful wishes; I’ll send you a Godspeed instead,
and I’ll clasp your hand – then you’ll understand all the things I have left unsaid.
To the living, I am gone.
To the sorrowful, I will never return.
To the angry, I was cheated,
But to the happy, I am at peace,
And to the faithful, I have never left.
I cannot be seen, but I can be heard.
So as you stand upon a shore, gazing at a beautiful sea – remember me.
As you look in awe at a mighty forest and its grand majesty – remember me.
As you look upon a flower and admire its simplicity – remember me.
Remember me in your heart, your thoughts, and your memories of the times we loved, the times we cried, the times we fought, the times we laughed.
For if you always think of me, I will have never gone.
Let not your hearts be troubled;
You believe in God, Believe also in me.
In my father’s house there are many mansions.
If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you unto myself, that where I am you may be also.
I will not leave you comfortless;
I will come to you. -Gospel of John
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From whence does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved,
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper,
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil, He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and for evermore
If I should ever leave you whom I love
To go along the Silent Way, grieve not,
Nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk
Of me as if I were beside you there.
(I’d come–I’d come, could I but find a way!
But would not tears and grief be barriers?)
And when you hear a song or see a bird
I loved, please do not let the thought of me
Be sad…For I am loving you just as
I always have…You were so good to me!
There are so many things I wanted still
To do–so many things to say to you…
Remember that I did not fear…It was
Just leaving you that was so hard to face…
We cannot see Beyond…But this I know:
I loved you so–’twas heaven here with you!
A poem entitled “The Song of the River” (William R. Hearst)
The snow melts on the mountain And the water runs down to the spring,
And the spring in a turbulent fountain, With a song of youth to sing,
Runs down to the riotous river, And the river flows to the sea,
And the water again Goes back in rain To the hills where it used to be.
And I wonder if life’s deep mystery Isn’t much like the rain and the snow
Returning through all eternity To places it used to know.
For life was born in the lofty heights And flows in a laughing stream,
To the river below Whose onward flow Ends in a peaceful dream.
And so at last, When our life has passed And the river has run its course,
It again goes back O’er the selfsame track,
To the mountain which was its source.
So why clutch life, Or why fear death, Or dread what is to be?
The river ran Its allotted span Till it reached the silent sea.
Then the water harked back To the mountain-top
To begin its course once more. So we shall run The course begun
Till we reach the silent shore.
Then revisit earth In a pure rebirth From the heart of the virgin snow.
So don’t ask why We live or die, Or whither, or when we go;
Or struggle with the mysteries of life That only God may know.
Prayer of Faith
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 Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For Thou art with me;
Thy rod and they staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” -Psalm 23