Most funeral ceremonies include readings, and they provide a poignant opportunity to set the tone of the occasion. To help you come up with the perfect piece, we have shared a few questions for you to think about.
Secular or sacred?
If the funeral service is taking place in a church, or the ceremony will reflect the faith of the deceased, it’s appropriate to consider hymns, prayers, psalms, passages from the Bible or readings from other religious texts. However, a non-religious or humanist ceremony does not typically include religious readings. Your funeral director will be able to discuss potential religious and secular readings with you in more detail as you go about planning the ceremony.
What mood to you want to create?
When exploring potential readings, think about how they make you feel and the emotions they provoke. The reading you select will have a huge impact on the mood of the ceremony and, by including it in the order of service, you are giving attendees the opportunity to take it with them as an enduring memory of the day. Recite potential pieces out loud and consult family and friends. Ask yourself, will the reading:
- Acknowledge the grief that loved ones are feeling?
- Offer an opportunity to reflect on the forces of life and death that are beyond our control?
- Create an optimistic mood by celebrating the deceased’s energy and attitude?
- Give advice and comfort to those present?
Did the deceased have a favourite author, poet or playwright? From famous soliloquies by William Shakespeare to Wendy Cope’s pragmatic take on death in her poem My Funeral, the works of literary greats are often a source of inspiration when selecting a funeral reading. An internet search can present you with thousands of options, but don’t be afraid to explore new possibilities. For example, you could consider speaking the lyrics of a favourite song. And while you might feel a much-loved quote is too short to include in the ceremony, you could include it in the order of service.
For an even more unique reading, you or someone else close to the deceased might consider writing a tribute. It doesn’t have to be a work of literary genius, and it’s a great chance to really add a personal touch to the proceedings. You could share a few memories – perhaps a funny story that conveys the deceased’s personality – and talk about the things you will remember about them long into the future.
Delivering the reading
Give the person who will be doing the reading plenty of time to practice, the more they are familiar with the flow of the piece and any tricky pronunciations, the more confident they will feel when the moment arrives. If you are delivering the reading, take your time and remember that it’s ok to be emotional. If you feel upset, pause and take a deep breath before continuing. And, even if you think you know the reading back-to-front, it’s always advisable to have a written copy with you in case you need a prompt.
Your funeral director will be able to help talk through possible readings. We can help when it comes to finding, comparing and contacting funeral directors that are local to you – click here to enter your postcode and start your search