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Fri May 29, 2015, 08:21 PM

It is with some trepidation I post here

but I need some help. I am planning a memorial service for my father who recently died. He was not religious but not an atheist, more agnostic. He did not ask to see a pastor while in the hospital dying, didn't speak of God or the afterlife. He did not consider himself a Christian but our family celebrates the traditional Christian holidays more as secular, family events. Holidays are an opportunity for us all to get together, share a meal, and spend time together. My dad's ashes will be buried in a memorial garden at a Unitarian Universalist Church because that is where his parents' ashes are.

We asked an Episcopal Priest to officiate at the proceeding because he is friends with my dad back from the old hippie days. All my dad's hippie friends know the priest, and he is totally welcoming of people from all theist and non-theist outlooks. Now the priest is willing to do any kind of readings/prayers/poems, we would like. I think a strongly religious service would be inappropriate, but I'm not opposed to some ecumenical/non-denominational readings. I need to come up with some readings and poems for the priest to read at the memorial. I am hoping people here would offer some suggestions from inter-faith and non-theist perspectives.

I request this doesn't become a discussion about the merits or ills of religion. I just seek some advice, and I hope that folks here might have some suggestions.

Thanks very much,
BB

42 replies, 4274 views

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Arrow 42 replies Author Time Post
Reply It is with some trepidation I post here (Original post)
BainsBane May 2015 OP
Laffy Kat May 2015 #1
struggle4progress May 2015 #2
daleanime May 2015 #3
misterhighwasted May 2015 #4
BainsBane May 2015 #7
BainsBane May 2015 #18
catrose May 2015 #5
BainsBane May 2015 #9
struggle4progress May 2015 #6
BainsBane May 2015 #8
struggle4progress May 2015 #10
BainsBane May 2015 #11
struggle4progress May 2015 #12
BainsBane May 2015 #13
Hoppy May 2015 #14
BainsBane May 2015 #15
Warren Stupidity May 2015 #16
BainsBane May 2015 #19
misterhighwasted May 2015 #17
BainsBane May 2015 #20
misterhighwasted May 2015 #21
BainsBane May 2015 #22
misterhighwasted May 2015 #24
BainsBane May 2015 #25
struggle4progress May 2015 #26
misterhighwasted May 2015 #34
misterhighwasted May 2015 #23
struggle4progress May 2015 #27
Iris May 2015 #39
The Velveteen Ocelot May 2015 #28
applegrove May 2015 #29
xfundy May 2015 #30
achsadu May 2015 #32
yeoman6987 May 2015 #31
freshwest May 2015 #33
BainsBane May 2015 #36
malokvale77 May 2015 #35
AtheistCrusader May 2015 #37
NaturalHigh May 2015 #38
cbayer May 2015 #40
BainsBane May 2015 #41
pinto May 2015 #42

Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 08:42 PM

1. A UU hymnal may be of some help.

There are readings in the hymnals as well as songs and there are so many hymnals to choose from. I'm so sorry about your loss.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 08:44 PM

2. Maybe the priest has some ideas. Or maybe your dad's old hippie friends do.

The point of the service is to celebrate your father and to help you all mourn his passing

Think back over what was meaningful to your dad: maybe you can incorporate some of that into the service

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 08:45 PM

3. kick...

for exposure. Fear I'm one to be able to offer much help, but is there any song that was a particular favorite of your dad?

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 08:46 PM

4. Sorry for the passing of your father, BB. Kind thoughts to you.

Here is a short poem read at the funeral of a dear Native friend of mine.
Perhaps it will fit with your fathers life on this earth or maybe it won't be appropriate. Not knowing anything about him nor what you are looking for I will offer this to you as a possibility. You may edit it to suit the man you loved and the man that loved you.
And I like it. Kinda fits with the free spirit in me, anyway.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Don't stand at my grave and cry
I am not there.
I did not die.

Love & Peace in the days ahead Bainsbane
MHW


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Response to misterhighwasted (Reply #4)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:11 PM

7. That's a nice one

I ran across that in my searches online. I also like this.

On Death

Than Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the sheered not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink form the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Kahlil Gibran

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Response to misterhighwasted (Reply #4)

Fri May 29, 2015, 10:15 PM

18. My mother just informed me that Gibran is gauche

and my father would roll in his grave, metaphorically, if that were read at his funeral. So that one's out. She suggested the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 08:46 PM

5. You could check out Marianne Williamson's Illuminata

"Rituals for our age" or something like that. I had the minister read the memorial service for my dad's funeral. It might be more spiritual than you want, but my memory is that it focused on relationships with the deceased.

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Response to catrose (Reply #5)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:13 PM

9. Thanks, I will. nt

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:03 PM

6. There are a lot of meaningful songs that generation sang, with various words

Perhaps the attendees would like to sing some of them

A version of this was popular


This one is easily modified by adding lyrics


This one has often been used


Here's a song Pete Seeger popularized but Enya did better



Everyone knows this one



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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #6)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:12 PM

8. We do have a musician

My sister arranged it. I'm not sure what she plans to sing/play but I need to find out.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #8)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:18 PM

10. The funerals I've attended often begin dark and mournfully but end upbeat

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #10)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:22 PM

11. We're having it in the park, outside

No funeral home, so that will help. We're also planning to have food, some appetizer and fruit plates from Costco.

My sister is a bit of a control freak but backed off last weekend, which leaves it to me to put this together in a reasonable fashion. It won't run like clockwork, as she would have arranged, but I don't think it needs to either.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #11)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:25 PM

12. May your memories be a blessing

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #12)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:47 PM

13. Thank you.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:52 PM

14. When Joyce died, we had no music and no poems and no prayers.

 

We asked friends to share memories. The things she did that made us laugh. The stories that we recite when we recall .. "Remember the time when she......"

The things that she did to make the world a better place

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Response to Hoppy (Reply #14)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:53 PM

15. Wow. What a lovely idea.

Thank you for sharing that.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 09:55 PM

16. Why have a "service" at all?

 

For my dad we all, family and friends, met at my parent's house. Family who had something to say, said it, Music was a big part of our lives, so those who could, performed. So was food. We ate, we drank, we celebrated, and that was that. Food family music and friends.

By the time my mom died there was no family house to gather at. We all met at the cemetery, not that anyone is actually buried at the grave, we all get cremated, but we gathered, friends and family, and again we said what we wanted to say, and there was music even on a bitterly cold early march day, and then we went to a nearby restaurant and celebrated with food and drink.

Think "wake". No priests. No service. Raise a glass, eat, sing, remember.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #16)

Fri May 29, 2015, 10:16 PM

19. For his friends and family

I myself wanted to have it in the back yard, but my sister wanted something that accommodated more people. We already rented the space in the park. We are having the priest because he is a friend of my Dad's and someone has to officiate. None of us wanted to do it.

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Response to misterhighwasted (Reply #17)

Fri May 29, 2015, 10:18 PM

20. I think John Prine was his favorite

He wasn't into pop music, even of his era, but I have heard that song read as a poem at other occasions.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #20)

Fri May 29, 2015, 10:45 PM

21. Yes John Prine.

BB in ref to your upthread poem by KGibran. I love that, he He wrote with depth & I recall buying the first book he published back in the day. I felt like I had found my soul. Lol. I also bought a book caalled. "Johnny Got His Gun". That book did cause some controversy due to the Vietnam War issues at that time.
It was typical of the times and the message of a generation.
With no social media, the writings & music carried the message instead. I believe the college campus became the center for much activity & organizing.

May I ask the age of your hippie father?

I miss my old hippie friends from back then. Seems like the country evolved so rapidly but maybe that's just age remembering.

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Response to misterhighwasted (Reply #21)

Fri May 29, 2015, 10:54 PM

22. He was 74

He died younger than he should have because of chronic pulmonary disease from smoking.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #22)

Fri May 29, 2015, 11:04 PM

24. Yes I understand, my father's life ended for a similar reason


They should have lived on forever..Hope the perfect tribute just slides across your desk
Love to you BB.

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Response to misterhighwasted (Reply #24)

Fri May 29, 2015, 11:05 PM

25. Thanks so much

I appreciate your suggestions and your well wishes.

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Response to misterhighwasted (Reply #21)

Fri May 29, 2015, 11:11 PM

26. "Johnny Got His Gun" was actually a 1938 novel about a badly wounded WWI soldier:

later controversy about the book originated from the fact that its author Dalton Trumbo was imprisoned and blacklisted for refusing to testify before HUAC in 1947. For the next dozen years, Trumbo used frontmen to market screenplays, until Kirk Douglas revealed that Trumbo had been the true screenwriter for Kubrick's 1960 film Spartacus

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #26)

Sat May 30, 2015, 12:50 AM

34. Oh yes..I recall some history there with Trumbo.

Been a long time. I still have the book packed away, along with my love beads & peace sign jewelry.
I remember equating it with Vietnam but later hearing about the controversy of it.

I was intrigued and impressed the moment he & the nurse communicated.
Appreciate the mental shakeup..long time ago.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #20)

Fri May 29, 2015, 10:56 PM

23. Cool man, your dad.

John Prine . A great lyricist.

Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger / And old rivers grow wilder every day / Old people just grow lonesome / Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello"

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #20)

Fri May 29, 2015, 11:17 PM

27. The song is Pete Seeger's rewrite of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #20)

Sat May 30, 2015, 05:21 AM

39. It's from the Bible - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I'm sorry about your dad.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 11:19 PM

28. When my dad passed away (at 92)

we weren't really sure what to do for a service, since he hadn't been a churchgoer in ages (raised Episcopalian, later UCC when we were kids, but no noticeable religion in at least 30 years). He had been living at a senior apartment complex affiliated with the Lutheran church (ELCA), so we contacted the Lutheran pastor who was the chaplain there. We explained to her that as far as we could tell Dad had been pretty much an agnostic, which didn't bother her (she said God loves you even if you don't believe in him), and we left it up to her to come up with an appropriate service. Most of his friends who would be coming to the service were Lutheran anyhow, and we knew Dad probably wouldn't care. So the pastor asked us to write out some memories which she read, and added a short homily and a few prayers. The music was classical because that's what Dad liked. Since funerals are really for the living, anything that your Dad would have been OK with and that comforts the survivors will be a good service. My condolences for your loss.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 11:26 PM

29. So sorry for your loss. I spent hours on the Internet looking for

poems and readings for my mom's memorial service. Just type in what your dad loved and the word poem and see what you find. We ended up using a Mary Oliver poem. She has many nice nature ones. Not too religious.

We used 'Sleeping In The Forest' by Mary Oliver. I had seen it months before but felt it was too dark. Then when mom passed and I was there I saw the poem again and it was no longer too dark. Good luck on your journey. It was gratifying to find the right poem. My brother read it at the service.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2015, 11:45 PM

30. Best to you.

I don't think I could top the suggestions made so far. Make sure his life was not lived in vain and fight for the changes he sought.

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Response to xfundy (Reply #30)

Sat May 30, 2015, 12:13 AM

32. poetry that expresses deep emotions for those who we love and who just passed on.

Sorry for your loss. I don't know who you are (except that you're a participant of DU) but I think that Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death..." is a great poem for this sad occasion.
Just a suggestion.

achsa.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Sat May 30, 2015, 12:10 AM

31. I went to a return to Earth day funeral

 

The woman was very into environment and felt that she was returning to the earth after being borrowed from it. It was all earthy songs like this land is your land, this land is our land and we'd like to teach the world to sing and different songs like that. I believe there was a Peter, Paul and Mary song. Additionally the poems were all environmentally themed. There was not a priest or anything but one of the children did keep it going. It was nice but very different then what I was used too. The family requested all participants to plant a tree in her honor.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Sat May 30, 2015, 12:49 AM

33. Sorry BB. I wrote a short story which had a theme. I'll DUmail it to you if you want. It's my view.

My family was less into one thing or the other religiously. We picked and chose religions, being Lutherans, Unitarians, Jews, atheists, agnostics, Baptists, Methodist and there was the lone Catholic. Who felt rather oppressed as we didn't take it seriously.

We were all secularists and believed in freedom of choice and thinking, but saw the First Amendment and separation of state as primary. Different days back then, I guess.

Some embraced the poetry and metaphor of religion as I did, but overall for us the message that we all followed was the Golden Rule. We saw all religions as the same and just a search for the meaning of life such as science is, according to what knowledge different times had. When these religions started we didn't have modern science as we do now. That is my view of what religion was at one time for many, and picked according to upbringing.

But it looks like your family has a definite set of likes and dislikes. We made no ceremony of funerals in my family. For us, that was it, the hereafter being unknown and individual belief.

So that is where I fall in, that a funeral is merely for the comfort of those living. The dead have no concern. Follow the wishes of the family. I didn't want to have a funeral, period. but have family and friends who want one. So it will be simple and I will be in a colobarium or as I jokingly call it the commie cemetary. My ashes will be mixed with thousands of others. At one time I wanted to have my ashes in the Gulf, but after BP, I didn't want that. Two of my relatives chose to have their ashes put in the places the wanted the most. One had her ashes buried in a garden, the other had his put in the Gulf as he wanted to be connected to his homeland of Sweden. The thinkgs people think...

I know of one family that had a very large funeral in Michigan. They all came to see the interring of the patriarch of the family and played many songs that they felt expressed what he was to them.

I used to imagine having the Eagles Desperado and few other such things played for myself, but really do not wish to have anything remarkable for myself. I wanted to be left on a mountain of old growth forest to be at peace because that to me is the most spiritual thing on Earth.

Know that I will be thinking of you during this time.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #33)

Sat May 30, 2015, 01:01 AM

36. He told us he had no preference about burial or memorial service

That it was for us, not him. Right after his death, I think I was too full of grief to put up any resistance to my sister. We all have different ways of coping, and hers has been to organize and plan, get everyone doing this and that. So now that we've booked the park space, it seems to be inevitable that it will be a bigger production than I would have liked. At this point I just have to do my part in getting the various components of the service together. I think I'll suggest Hoppy's idea that we open it up to attendees to ask them to share stories about my Dad. I really like that idea.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Sat May 30, 2015, 12:57 AM

35. Crossing The Bar - Tennyson (nt)

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Sat May 30, 2015, 01:14 AM

37. Any particular literature or poetry, or even ideas he might have liked?

I've built the slideshows for several funerals, sort of telling the person's life story, and putting it to music they loved. After, everyone shares stories about the person, how they knew them, how they met, or when they fell in love, funny stuff they did at work, you name it.

Uncle on my wife's side started a service for her grandpa by suddenly throwing a stack of pots and pans he'd hidden behind the casket, on the floor (scared the crap out of half the audience). This had special meaning for the uncle and his siblings, because that's how grandpa would wake them up for school some mornings if they didn't get up on time.

Stuff like that. Work in what was important to him. Who was important to him. What he did for a living, if he loved his work. We spend a quarter of our lives or more at work, and those people are often important parts of our lives too.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Sat May 30, 2015, 04:30 AM

38. I would imagine an Episcopal priest would end the service with The Lord's Prayer.

I don't think many people would consider that too religious, but it would certainly be appropriate for a UU service.

My condolences on your loss.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Sat May 30, 2015, 05:45 AM

40. I am so sorry for your loss.

It sounds like your father was a great guy and you are an exceptional daughter.

The thoughtfulness that you put into this post and the replies will carry you far and I feel certain that whatever you do, it will be just the right thing.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #40)

Sat May 30, 2015, 08:01 AM

41. Thank you, cbayer

I appreciate your kind words.

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Response to BainsBane (Original post)

Sat May 30, 2015, 10:20 AM

42. Sorry for your loss BainsBane,

I hope it all turns out to be just right as it is and that there is "an opportunity for us all to get together, share a meal, and spend time together." Take care. ~ pinto

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