The Good Funeral Awards

Words for a Memorial Service

12 March, 2011

My day job is working as a speechwriter. I help people put together a few words for a memorial service if they want to create something moving and humorous. Six Feet Under includes some superb funeral addresses. One quotes from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, 1855:

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

You can see how effective a beautiful piece of poetry can be at a funeral, Aunt Sarah reads from The Mystic Odes of Rumi at 3.30 on this video of Nate’s funeral.

Our death is our wedding with eternity.
What is the secret? “God is One.”

The sunlight splits when entering the windows of the house.
This multiplicity exists in the cluster of grapes;
It is not in the juice made from the grapes.
For he who is living in the Light of God,
The death of the carnal soul is a blessing.
Regarding him, say neither bad nor good,
For he is gone beyond the good and the bad.
Fix your eyes on God and do not talk about what is invisible,
So that he may place another look in your eyes.
……
It is the eternal light which is the Light of God,
The ephemeral light is an attribute of the body and the flesh.
…
Oh God who gives the grace of vision!
The bird of vision is flying towards
You with the wings of desire.