Funeral Poems, Readings, Music, Quotations & Thoughts

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot!

It isn’t always easy to find the words at a funeral, but the right words mean a lot to a family. We used these words as a short reading for a man who would never have said he wanted poetry at his funeral, and they spoke of happy memories, times spent with his friends and trips to Twickenham with his sons. And of course it is a beautiful song about [...] Read more

Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen

Leonard Cohen's beautiful message to his lifelong love Marianne Ihlen, sent as she was dying last year touched many people. He wrote: Well Marianne it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think [...] Read more

More Meditations from the Quaker Tradition

Another short extract from the writings of the great Quaker William Penn, founder of the State of Pennsylvania. They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies. Nor can spirits ever be divided, that love and live in the same divine principle, the root and record of their friendship. If absence be not [...] Read more

Wordsworth on the Loss of his Brother

William Wordsworth had a younger brother John who was a sea captain. William didn't often see his brother but loved him nonetheless. John Lost his life at sea in 1805 and here from Wordsworth's letters are some of his thoughts on loss and grief, edited and arranged to make a short reading; We weep much to-day, and that relieves us. Grief will, and [...] Read more

The Sparrow in the Mead Hall

The only recorded statement of British pre-christian paganism is found in an account by the Venerable Bede in his History of the English Church and People. Bede describes the arrival of Christian monks at the court of the pagan King Edwin of Northumbria and in their discussion of religion one of the King's advisers says this: The present life of [...] Read more

Obituary: Jane Lotter (by herself)

Last Month the Seattle Times published the obituary of a local woman, Jane Catherine Lotter. There was nothing unusual about it until you read on to the end of the first sentence which went like this: One of the few advantages of dying from Grade 3, Stage IIIC endometrial cancer, recurrent and metastasized to the liver and abdomen, is that you [...] Read more

Wilko Johnson: 'Man, it makes you feel alive to be told you’re dying’

Funerals are sad affairs. Bereavement can be a terrible blow and part of the purpose of a funeral is to provide an outlet for grief and a time for weeping and mourning. At the same time though it is a time when we need to hear something positive because we are also at a funeral to remember with joy a person's life and to look to the future with [...] Read more

Her laughter was better than birds in the morning

A short poem by the former poet laureate Cecil Day Lewis. I have heard it used for a man with 'her' read as 'his' and 'she' as 'he'. Her laughter was better than birds in the morning, Her smile turned the edge of the wind, Her memory disarms death and charms the surly grave. Early she went to bed, too early we Saw her light put out; yet we could [...] Read more