Friday, November 4, 2016

A Simple Funeral.

It fell to me to manage the funeral 'service' for my younger brother on the occasion of his passing. A lifelong diabetic, he passed suddenly but not too surprisingly. As a completely 'unchurched' guy it did not seem proper to bring in a Christian minister, and the weirdo brother (that's me) got called on to manage the very simple service. I had three days to write an utterly secular yet ass-kicking piece, including the eulogy for my brother.
I must say, this was a tough writing project, even though short. After staring at the page a while, I gave myself permission to adapt an opening from another set of rites. I devised a centering/settling thing that even this audience would probably do. Unable to be completely without ritual elements (or fire) I chose the lighting of a single candle as the centerpiece. I attach the text.
The setting was a funeral home with its own chapel - very nice in that way. Guests moved easily from the viewing parlor to chapel seating, the coffin was closed and rolled in, and the little table and candle placed before it.
The performance went well, with a minimum of chokeyness on our parts. L. and I did it together in our alternating-voice fashion ( was giving the eulogy, so I wanted a second voice anyway).

The service was well-received by the mixed Christian and don't-care audience. We went to the dinner following and I did have The Conversation (eh... are you ordained? in...?) with some elderly ladies. They seemed tolerant behind their mild astonishment.
All in all, a win. We try not to be the 'groovy ministers', and to require some level of actual Paganism in our work, but for my brother, of course, I made exception.  I give the text, in case it might be useful.

A Very Simple Funeral
The front is set with a single candle on a table, in front (or on top) of the coffin if present.
1: Greeting (ending with):
•Death is a part of the cycle of existence. No form, no flesh, no name can be eternal – all arise from the nature of the world, and vanish again in their time – but some things remain. 
• Many wise people have believed that a soul, a spirit, remains alive after death, that death is just the leaving of one form for another, while our eternal essence carries on. We hope that this is so; yet, as long as human memory does not fail, we can be sure of another sort of endurance – we endure in our deeds, in the memories of those whose lives we have touched. The dead live in us, of that we can be certain, even as we look outward into the unknown adventure that may await us all.
• So, we are joined here by our memory, by our lives with **,  by our affection and by our sorrow. Let us spend a few moments preparing ….

2: Attunement:
• So let us pause for a moment to calm our hearts, after a difficult time.
Take a deep breath, and for just an hour let’s sigh away what we can of our tension and trouble.
And another deep breath.
• And, my friends, let us join hands for a moment, or touch a shoulder, or a knee.
And as we take a third deep breath together…
Let us abide for just a moment in silence, and rest in the comfort of friends and family.

3: Invocation
• And from silence, let us light a single candle.
• So that there is warmth, like the family’s fire.
• So that there is beauty, in the shining Light
• So that there is love unending, like a steady flame.
And if we may, let this light show the way for **’s  memory, to light up old corners of our lives with him, and let it be as if he might draw near us here, we who loved him.

(This is a good spot for music, or a recitation or performance, if there’s a need.)

S: So, let us share our memories of **.

3: Eulogies
(Following the Eulogies there might be a ‘prayer for the Dead’ in whatever fashion the family desires)

4: Closing
• So as we close, let us seek to go forth in peace, knowing that **’s life was well-lived and well-loved, and that he leaves behind a real legacy.
• Though we travel with our sorrow, I think we can be sure that if we could ask ** he would tell us to live our lives, love our loves, and, when we can, to have one for him.
• So, my friends let it be peace in our hearts, we are finished here.


Diane said...

This is so very beautiful, Ian. I really love the way you handled the "attunement." I don't often find funeral services all that comforting, but this one truly seems to be. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Dacia Pacea said...

May he rest in peace

Morgan said...

How Beautiful. Im sorry for the loss of Rickie. How long ago we were in your folks back yard with Moose. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words.

Michelle S. said...

That's lovely, Ian. What a wonderful way to honor your brother.

Erik said...

I'm very sorry for your loss!

RJ Pacitti said...

Simple and beautiful

Sexy Sadie said...

So beautiful. My condolences.