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Wording suggestions for funerals with few attendees

Thanking those present

Although so few of you are able to be at this ceremony today, your presence here is appreciated beyond words by (family names) or ‘would have been so greatly appreciated by (deceased).’

Welcome to those watching/listening from home

A warm welcome to those family and friends who are joining this ceremony for x through the webcam service here at the crematorium (or other methods). Although we can’t see you physically, we know you are there and your presence in just being there makes so much difference and is appreciated so very much.

Symbolic action for those at home

Those of you who are watching and/or listening to this ceremony at home, you might like to light your candle (or other symbolic action) now as we start the ceremony (or they can do this at the committal).

Sending everyone a script

A copy of the words spoken today are available to anyone who would like a copy, if anyone would like me to email them. Just get in touch with me…. (say how…through the family…through my website etc…)

When family could not be at the death

The circumstances of x’s death are all the more difficult to accept as you were not able to be with him/her physically at the time when you desperately wanted to be. But most important to x, was the knowledge that you are well and safe, without doubt, that would have been uppermost in his/her mind. Keep that thought with you as you go through the coming weeks and months and know that you did the very best that you could for x, and they knew and appreciated that.

If a memorial ceremony is to be planned

As time passes, the extraordinary times we are living in now will ease, and you will have an opportunity to say a longer, more personal farewell to x. There will be the opportunity to plan a full celebration of their life, which all those people that x knew and loved, can attend.

Closing words

Do not let the difficult times that we are living through overshadow the life that was led by x. The life he/she led was packed full of love for his/her family and friends.  So very many precious memories were made with x and will be remembered and recalled by you (all) in the future. X would without doubt not want you to be sad but to remember them with love and affection and take comfort in your memories.

A couple of poems that work for most ceremonies if unable to obtain family choices

Reading: ‘The Tree of Life’ by Herbert Read

The death of each of us is in the order of things – it follows life as surely as night follows day. We can take the tree of life as a symbol. The human race is the trunk and the branches of the tree, and individual men and women the leaves, which appear for a season, flourish for a summer and then die.

I too, am like a leaf of this tree, and one day I will be torn off by a storm, or simply decay and fall, and become part of the earth about its roots – but while I live, I am conscious of the trees flowing sap and steadfast strength. Deep down in my consciousness, is the consciousness of a collective life, a life of which I am a part and to which I make a minute but unique contribution.

When I die and fall, the tree remains, nourished to some degree by my manifestation of life. Millions of leaves have preceded me, and millions will follow me – but the tree itself grows, and endures.

Reading: ‘A Reflection on an Autumn Day’ By an anonymous author

I took up a handful of grain and let it slip flowing through my fingers, and I said to myself,

This is what it is all about. There is no longer any room for pretence. At harvest time the essence is revealed – the straw and chaff are set aside, they have done their job. The grain alone matters – sacks of pure gold.

So it is when a person dies the essence of that person is revealed. At the moment of death a person’s character stands out happy for the person who has forged it well over the years. Then it will not be the great achievement that will matter, nor, how much money or possessions a person has amassed. These, like the straw and the chaff, will be left behind. It is what he has made of himself that will matter. Death can take away from us what we have, but it cannot rob us of who we are.

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