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Congregation of Unitarian Universalists

Return to a Full Memorial Service Example

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Readings for a beloved Mother, Wife, Grandmother and for Fathers, Grandfathers and Husbands too


      The bright needles clicked
        the old woman's hands
          quick, dextrous and expert
            were a blur of colour
              "Your new gloves are finished"
                she eased them on to
                  my short plump fingers
                    "Now you can play in the snow"
    I ran into the street, excited
      the gloves soft, warm, dry
        were a magical source
          of safety and love.
    Time drew on
      my winters grew colder
        the snow fell thicker
          today my gloves
            are faded and threadbare.
              Her needles are silent
                and my hands are cold.


Elegiac Poems

    He goes free of the earth.
      The sun of his last day sets
        clear in the sweetness of his liberty.
    The earth recovers from his dying,
      the hallow of his life remaining
        in all his death leaves.
    Radiances know him.
      Grown lighter than breath,
        he is set free in our remembering.
    Grown brighter than vision,
      he goes dark
        into the life of the hill that holds his peace.
      He's hidden among all that is, and cannot be lost.

    Wendell Berry

      Something told the wild geese

        it was time to go.

        Though the fields lay golden

        something whispered, "snow."

        Leaves were green and stirring,

        Berries, luster-glossed.

        But beneath warm feathers

        something cautioned, "frost."

        All the sagging orchards

        steamed with amber spice,

        but each wild breast stiffened

        at remembered ice.

        Something told the wild geese

        it was time to fly -

        summer sun was on their wings,

        winter in their cry

      Rachel Field

      Cast Your Fate To The Wind

      A month of nights, a year of days,

      Octobers drifting into Mays;

      I set my sail as the tide comes in

      And I just cast my fate to the wind.

      I shift my course along the breeze;

      Won't sail upwind on memories.

      The empty sky is my best friend,

      And I just cast my fate to the wind.

      Time has such a way of changing

      A person throughout the years;

      And now I'm rearranging my life through all my tears

      Alone, a - lone?

      There never was, there couldn't be

      A place in time for one like me

      Who'd drink the dark and laugh the day

      And let their wildest dreams blow away.

      So now I'm old, I'm wise and smart;

      BUT just a one with half a heart.

      I wonder how it might have been

      Had I not cast my fate to the wind.

      Words & Music by Vince Guaraldi

      for Fathers, Grandfathers and Husbands

      Memories Keep Those We Love Close To Us Forever

        Hold fast to your memories,

        to all of the cherished moments

        of the past,

        to the blessings and the laughter,

        the joys and the celebrations,

        the sorrow and the tears.

        They all add up to treasures

        of found yesterdays

        that you shared and spent together,

        and they keep the one you loved

        close to you in spirit and thought.

        The special moments

        and the memories in your life

        will never change.

        They will always be in your heart,

        today and forevermore.

      by: Linda E. Knight

      Funeral Blues

        Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone

        Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.

        Silence the pianos and with muffled drum,

        Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

        Let the airplanes circle moaning overhead

        Scribbling on the sky the message "He is dead".

        Put great bows around the white necks of the public doves.

        Let traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

        He was my north, my south, my east, and west,

        My working week and my Sunday rest,

        My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song.

        I thought that love would last forever. I was wrong.

        The stars are not wanted now, put out every one.

        Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun

        Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

        For nothing now can ever come to any good.

      By W. H. Auden


        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 behind when day is done.

      Helen Lowrie Marshall

      Birth is a beginning and death a destination And life is a journey:
        From childhood to maturity and youth to age;
          From innocence to awareness and ignorance to knowing;
            From foolishness to desecration and then perhaps to wisdom.
              From weakness to strength or from strength to weakness and often back again;
                From health to sickness and we pray to health again.
                  From offense to forgiveness from loneliness to love from joy to gratitude from pain to compassion from grief to understanding from fear to faith.
                    From defeat to defeat to defeat until looking backwards or ahead We see that victory lies not at some high point along the way but in having made the journey step by step a sacred pilgrimage.
                      Birth is a beginning and death a destination And life is a journey; A sacred journey to life everlasting.

                      Rabbi Alvin I. Fine


      He is Gone

      You can shed tears that he is gone,
        Or you can smile because he lived,
        You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back,
          Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.
          Your heart can be empty because you can't see him
            Or you can be full of the love that 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 him and only that he is gone
                Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on,
                You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,
                  Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on

                David Harkins

    Ah, see! She sleeps in perfect rest,

    Still as the flowers above her breast;

    A statue of repose she seems,

    Unvexed by any earthly dreams;

    Nature’s angel, men call Death, hath brought,

    That’s peace, that passeth human thought.

    Of care and weariness and pain

    No haunting memories remain.

    From night of earth her spirit wakes

    While the eternal morning breaks.

    Illness and age have passed away;

    She finds her sweet,lost youth to-day.

    She has gone out from the home so dear

    Made by her presence bright with cheer.

    Since, as a bride, she came to be

    Home’s angel of sweet ministry, -

    To enter Home’s eternal door

    Whence none go out forevermore.

    Above her rest we speak her praise-

    Of the loving heart, the winning ways.


    ( followed by a moment of silent meditation)

      In the quietness of this place and in the Spirit of this Community in which we share and find strength let us pray. Prayer cannot bring water to parched land, not stop a roaring flood, nor mend a broken bridge, nor rebuild a ruined city, but prayer can water an arid soul, change the tide toward righteousness, mend a broken heart and rebuild a weaken will. Let us pray.

    It is not easy to plan a memorial service, interment, or gravside service for a loved one. Select a date, location, music, flowers, a member of the clergy, readings and all at a time when none of this is really what you want to plan. Start by looking for favorite poems, verses, passages or readings of your loved one. You might also use inspirational letters or writings by your friend or relative to include in the service as a way of letting their own words speak for them. It is especially difficult to plan for a young child's memorial service. The Love Between a Mother and her Child is Forever and parents continue to have "what if" thoughts years later. Many spiritual communities now offer not only Pastoral Care but Loss Support Groups that help through the bereavement process for people who have had a loss a or anticipate the death of a companion.

    Click here to locate a Unitarian Universalist Congrgation near you
    In addition, there are book resources, this site and other Internet sites with collections of poems, prose, blessings and prayers appropriate for use in a memorial service.

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