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Liturgy: Funeral


We have come together today to give thanks for the life of ***; we have come to make our tributes to his/her memory; to take comfort from the words of religious tradition; to be mutually strengthened in the presense of others who new and respected her; and to lay her body to rest, in the sure conviction that her spirit now abides in the safe keeping of the Divine Care.

This is inevitably a time of sorrow and sadness. We cannot spend lifetimes being concerned about families and fellowship and then expect there to be no grief when, in God's good time, we have to let go those bonds that have bound us together in the bundle of life. Even the sorrow, hurtful though it may seem, makes its own testimony to the beauty and closeness of the human ties that held *** to you and you to her over the years.

Yet, for all its sadness, this should be a time of gratitude and praise, and we fail our friends and loved ones at the last if we do not try to rise above our own sense of loss, into an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness for all their lives have has meant to family and friends.

Each one of you will have your special memories of the ways in which ***'s life touched yours to bless them, as mother as sister , relative, neighbour or friend. That inward sense of appreciation will, of course, count for more than any eulogy that is spoken today. And if you will let a spirit of gratitude prevail, it will be a healing and an encouraging balm, bearing you up, taking you back to the ordinary concerns of life determined to reflect in your living all that you recognised to be best in hers.

Of course, at occasions like this, we recount the happy times, and sometimes the way in which the difficulties of life were surmounted with faith and courage. We take stock of an entire life, and are pleased to remember our loved ones and friends for their most worthy characteristics, letting be forgotten the less pleasing aspects, which we all have. We can be especially thankful when we remember friends who have tried to make a worthy offering of their lives.

But there is another dimension. A hymn we sometimes sing speaks of "The wide horizon's grander view, the sense of life that knows no death, the life that maketh all things new." About the forward view it is perhaps not very profitable to speculate. The best, and only thing we can do is bid farewell to our friends in a spirit of faith and trust, that all is well, and will be well, and that nothing ever separates us from the love of God; that underneath are the everlasting arms. In that spirit, with gratitude, let us reverently commend the spirit of *** into God's safe keeping.


here we are today remembering the life of ***; making tributes and praise to her memory, taking comfort from the words of the spirit, to therefore satisfactorily lay her body to rest with respect.

There is grief. We are sorrowful and sad at this point so soon after the close of another life. Bonds were tied into this life and out from it to us. But now we must let go. Letting go is not easy, which is testimony to the concern we had for her in real life, just as she was for others.

Yet let us praise this life in gratitude, and aim to rise above simple sorrow to a heightness of thankfulness for this life, a thankfulness for all that she did and therefore meant for those around her, especially her family and friends

What is especially remembered about how ***'s life touched yours and its inward sense of appreciation counts for far more than any eulogy given today. And if thankfulness and gratitude prevail, it will heal and encourage, and strengthen through this difficult period, returning everyone to that ordinary life in which so much can be given to others.Think of the happy times and the way in which faith and courage overcame the difficult times. It helps.

Here now we take stock of an entire life, and its whole sense of meaning can now begin to be made. Her contribution well known to those who knew her, and not so well know to those who did not, but just as valuable.

We can bid farewell to *** knowing that yet again human life has displayed its inherent worth, the experience of being alive, the mystery of consciousness and thought and appreciation, and its true value when in association and love with others. Life is constantly lost and made new: Life experienced by one is but for a short period, yet what wonders it demonstrates and what memories it leaves to live on in the rest of us.


From the Guru Granth Sahib 46

The world grows, gets nourished and thereafter,
Before our very eyes starts to end.
Are you not ashamed of calling the house yours
When at the end nothing shall last with you? (Pause)
By numerous efforts, you have cherished your body
At time of death, it wilt be consigned to flames.
The body whose limbs you cover with perfume and
sandalwood shall be burned with a pile of wood.
Says Kabir, listen you wise persons
Your figure will be destroyed and watched by the
whole world.

Mansukhani, G. S. (1994), Hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, New Delhi: Hemkunt Press, 113.


From the Guru Granth Sahib 78

Man comes naked into the world and goes naked after death.
No one survives in the end, neither kings nor emperors.
O God; You alone are to me like the nine treasures,
And all my riches, attachments and my beloved wife belong to You. (Pause).
None comes with us or goes with us.
Where are those who kept elephants tied to their gates?
Ravan[a] possessed the fortress of Lanka built of pure gold,
But in the end, the fool did not take anything with himself.
Reflect on the virtues of God, O Kabir! for some time,
For at the end, the gambler loses everything.

Mansukhani, G. S. (1994), Hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, New Delhi: Hemkunt Press, 179.