Sample Eulogies, Ceremonies, Rituals, Writings
Father Eulogy (Royal-Flush-Of -A -Life Theme):
Thank you all for coming today. My dad would be most flattered to see everyone gathered here in his honor.
My dad had many passions, one of them being casinos: from photographing the neon lights of the Vegas strip, to collecting mementoes, to sitting in front of video poker machines at Parx, right here in the Philly suburbs.
The other day my nephew, T, who sometimes went gambling with my dad, commented, “I’ve never seen Grandpa win.” I reassured T that I have many photos of my dad in front of winning machines.
That got me thinking about what it means to… actually win. In my opinion, my dad hit the jackpot. The five cards in his royal-flush-of-a-life were Collectibles, Photography, Humor, Family, and the Phillies.
I didn’t mention real estate, even though that was his career. His favorite part of being a realtor was what the people left behind in their attics and basements – the collectibles. This was supplemented by going to flea markets and auctions and a lot of intense research. My dad had quite the eye for spotting valuable radios, advertising memorabilia - especially cars and gas stations-, and, for lack of a better description, a veritable mountain of boxes of other stuff.
He once told me that he didn’t want to own a store like his parents had, yet back in the day, the only way to sell antiques was through a storefront. But with the advent of eBay, my dad fished his wish. He started the collectibles business that would have been his original chosen career path. And he took to it like a fish to water. My dad loved being an eBay seller.
Photography was another of my dad’s passions. One of my most fond childhood memories was a night when he turned the laundry room of our row house into a darkroom and developed photographs. Watching faces emerge on paper was magical. On the negative side – a photography-pun my dad would definitely appreciate – he took forever to actually take a photograph. I remember as a kid learning to hold my breath waiting for him to line-up everything perfectly before he hit the button. Today I am grateful for those long moments because he has amassed quite a collection documenting his life’s journey as well as the entire family.
Bad puns were one of my dad’s strong suits. He was also known for wickedly funny and irreverent words that would float out of his mouth, most often while we were together playing games. The cleanest and least offensive one I can think of was during a family game of Scrabble. As he laid down his tiles for a low-scoring word, he said, “I’m sucking hind tit.” H and K weren’t sure they heard him correctly and asked him to repeat it. Which he was all too willing to do... at least three or four times... each more distinctly than the last, “I’m sucking hind tit.” And each time my sisters laughed even harder until tears were streaming from their eyes.
My dad was a good sport when it came to being the target of humor, too. One family vacation, he hung his bathing trunks and matching jacket on the motel balcony to dry. The following morning it was quite windy and when he went to fetch them, the trunks were nowhere to be found. We searched up and down the surrounding streets to no avail. So he wore the jacket with his non-matching back-up trunks. The moment we set foot on the sand, we all spotted a woman wearing, you guessed it, dad’s bathing trunks. We cajoled him into subtly standing near her so we could get a photo of both of them, a perfectly matched pair.
Family was important to my dad. Of all the lessons he taught me, the most powerful one is about second chances. When my mom and dad divorced, he was devastated. Thankfully, he took my advice and attended a Jewish singles group. That’s where he met R. It’s during this time that he truly came into his own. They were adorable together - two short, Energizer bunnies, always on the go. R made my dad happier than I had ever seen him. Her large extended family embraced him as one of their own. And with her support my dad was able to leave behind financial troubles that had plagued him. I know my parents may have been teenage sweethearts and they gave birth to me and my sisters, for which I am obviously forever thankful, but R was definitely the love of my dad’s life.
In the royal-flush-hand of my dad’s life, there’s only one card left that I haven’t touched on, his beloved Phillies. In the words of the late Harry Kallas, my dad is OUTTA HERE, but he is certainly not gone. He will forever be loved. One way to keep his legacy alive is for each of us, on this New Year’s Eve, to take some time to think about which 5 cards make up our own royal flush. Which 5 things will allow each of us to live our lives to the fullest, to be WINNERS, just like my dad.
Address the coffin directly:
Dad, I’ll miss your loving ways: I'll miss the boxes of eBay treasures you always shared; I'll miss the photos that you mailed; I'll miss you being my personal clipping service; and I'll miss your sketches on diner napkins. I will also miss your bad jokes and your good stories, especially the one about how as a teen you learned to suspend yourself horizontally from a pole.
I want you, and everyone here today, to know that, as far as dads go, my sisters and I hit the jackpot. We love you, dad. I love you, dad. Rest in peace.
Sample Ceremonies, Rituals, and Eulogies
Sample Ceremonies, Rituals, and Eulogies
Ash Scattering Ceremony:
Note 1: Shortly after the funeral, at a meeting to discuss the upcoming ash disposition service, everyone was split on what to do with the cremains. So each family member ordered items made with either W---’s ashes or fingerprints. All gifts were paid for by G&L and mailed to my home. I wrapped them prior to the ceremony. The remaining cremains will be spread at the disposition. Note 2: T--- is mentioned at the bench unveiling. She's W---'s twin who died at 14.
List of Gifts Pre-Chosen - All Represented To Attend Disposition:
-S and M (4-legged kids): Tags with W---’s fingerprints and new collars
-M (spouse): Silver ring with cremains and Tinkerbell wand etched inside
-G and L (parents): Extra-large paperweight heart made of glass (all shades of blue swirls) with cremains woven through - for their mantle
-R (mother-in-law): Blue glass sun catcher with cremains to hang in her garden
-W, P, S, R (brother, sister-in-law, 2 nephews): Military-style Dog Tags for each with W---’s fingerprints and dates and personal messages
-B, M, B (sister, brother-in-law, niece): Medium blue urn with ashes already inside. Also, a fingerprint necklace in heart shape with message for B
-L (sister): Same fingerprint necklace in heart shape as B, different message
Lay-out of Yard
In the backyard of the home of G&L, 12 chairs surround a newly planted, intimate, flower garden of blue, summer-blooming, native-to-Texas, wildflowers. There’s a mulch path leading from the yard into the center of the garden where a bench, with a brass dedication plaque, will be positioned. The bench is now off to the side with a wrapped gift on it, under a blue tarp. Currently the bench area is covered with dirt. Earlier in the day, R assisted the kids as they etched a heart into the dirt using a spade. They wrote W---’s name in the center of the heart. There’s a rake, shovel, and a pile of mulch off to the side to cover the heart once the ashes are spread. By the path entrance to the garden is a round table big enough to hold the urn, candle in a lantern, and wrapped gifts for everyone in attendance. There is a blue tablecloth on the table.
Music Cue: Mixtape of songs performed by W---’s band, played quietly – M to supply small outdoor speakers.
Family: Take seats - M has S and M on leashes, G, L, R, L, W, P, S, R, B, M, B – all wearing blue
Welcoming Remarks by Celebrant
Celebrant: Stands by table and lights the candle in the lantern.
Celebrant: Hello again and welcome. What a beautiful garden you have created in which to reminisce and also grow new memories. The bench will be a perfect place to sit and visit. On this table are the gifts you picked out a couple months ago made with W---’s ashes and/or fingerprints. The excitement over unwrapping them is clearly in the air, and we will get to them in just a bit.
Thank-You Message Ritual
Celebrant: But first, please take a moment to silently think of something you would like to thank W--- for. Perhaps it’s something he did for you, gave to you, said to you, taught you, or anything else that that makes you feel happy, proud, or honored that W--- was, and still is, in your life. W--- always gave willingly of his gifts, so there are many things to thank him for - like making you laugh when you were upset, giving you confidence when you were scared, teaching you how to play basketball, modeling how to be kind to strangers, or helping you learn to impersonate Bart Simpson. You only need to pick one – the one that stands out for you today, while sitting here in his garden.
Celebrant: waits a minute
Celebrant: I am going to hand this card to M who will start us off by sharing his thank-you. The card reads, “TODAY I WOULD LIKE TO THANK W--- FOR... ” M will read these words, then finish the sentence. When done speaking, he’ll pass the card to his left to G who will then read card out loud and share his thank you. We’ll do this until has everyone shared a thank-you to W---.
Celebrant: Hands M the card.
Family: One-by-one, each family member thanks W--- and passes the card.
Scattering of Ashes
Celebrant: Let’s all rise and quietly walk down the path to the center of the garden and stand around the heart that R, B, R, and S etched into the dirt earlier today.
Family: Walk down the path to the center of the garden and encircle the dirt heart with W---’s name etched into it.
Celebrant: Picks up the urn (scattering urn), follows the family to the heart.
Celebrant: We are gathered today on what would have been W---’s 37th birthday to remember him, honor him, and celebrate him. We are also gathered to commit his ashes to the earth and dedicate this garden of blue flowers that are both beautiful and wild, just like W--- was. This is the very ground on which W--- walked and played. It is the ground that supported him while he was here with us. And it is the ground that will continue to provide beauty, hope, and joy for the whole family for years to come. We will now pass around the scattering urn. When it’s your turn, please fill the part of the heart closest to you with ashes. If you feel the need to pass, simply hand the urn to the next person. We will keep passing it until it is empty.
Family: Pass the urn until all the ashes are scattered in the heart.
Celebrant: Places empty urn on the ground.
Celebrant: Please join hands while B reads a poem titled Memories Like Wildflowers by Susan Mosquera.
B: Memories Like Wildflowers
Memories of you are like
Wildflowers in a meadow.
Sometimes they come one at a time,
others are in bunches.
They pop up when I least expect.
Revealing vivid, beautiful images.
Often brightening my dark day.
They bring me back to a happier, simpler time.
Before long, they fade and are gone.
Always reminding me of how very much
I miss you...
Covering of Ashes and Unveiling of The Bench
Celebrant: Please take a moment to get a mental picture of W---. An image from a time where he was full of life and love and energy. Let the image fill your entire heart. Keep it there while W covers the ashes in preparation for placing the bench.
W: Uses a shovel and rake to cover the heart with mulch.
Celebrant: Now it’s time to bring in the bench. From what I’ve heard, it takes 12 people to carry it. Let’s see if W, G, M, and M can manage it, though.
W, G, M, M: Carry tarp-covered bench into center of garden and position it on the mulch.
Celebrant: Let’s all take hold of the tarp and unveil the bench together on the count of three. We’ll toss the tarp over the flowers to where the pile of mulch was. 1-2-3.
Entire family: Remove tarp and toss it out of garden
Celebrant: I was told that there was a big debate over what to engrave on the dedication plaque. How wonderful that the runner up was, “Remember the trees. Remember the grass. Remember me. The pain in the ass.” W--- would have loved that. G and L will now read the official dedication that was voted as #1:
G and L: Step forward
G and L: In memory of W--- and T---:
It broke our hearts to lose you,
But neither of you went alone
Part of us is with you both
Where ever you may roam
A Gift to Bring You – by Rumi
Celebrant: While M and L unwrap the mystery gift on the bench and pass it around, I’d like to share a prose poem from Rumi titled, A Gift To Bring You. It beautifully captures how W--- lives on in each of you.
M and L: Unwrap the gift (a hand mirror) and pass it around
Celebrant: “You have no idea how hard I've looked for a gift to bring you. Nothing seemed right. What's the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the ocean. Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient. It's no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these. So I've brought you a mirror. Look at yourself and remember me.”
Conclusion and Presentation of Gifts
Celebrant: In a moment we will leave the garden and I will hand each of you your gifts from the table. Please take them up to the deck so you can open them at the barbeque. Remember, as you share stories with others about W---, and T---, too, and as you pass along the gifts they gave you, you will introduce them to new people. These new people will then also get to know W--- and T--- and enjoy them. As Rumi said, their legacy lives within each of you. That is quite an honor. Should you ever need a reminder, you now know where to look.
Celebrant: Points to the mirror.
Celebrant: Leads procession down path and stops at the table. Hands each family member their gift.
Family: Follow Celebrant, receive gifts, and head to deck for barbeque.
Celebrant: Blows out candle after others are on their way to the deck.
Speech with Ritual (Delivered to Graduating Class at Celebrant Foundation & Institute):
I recently saw a photo of the day I became a Girl Scout, holding my hand up as I took a pledge. Over 50 years later, I still make that gesture and say “Girl Scout’s Honor” when I want to show others my level of serious commitment. This is pretty ironic since I dropped out of Girl Scouts because it conflicted with watching the TV show, Laugh-In.
But… it got me thinking how comforting it would be to have a physical reminder of our commitment to Celebrancy: something to do in the car before meeting a client or prior to officiating an event.
So, I envisioned the beautiful faces and loving energy of my Funerals classmates and teacher - and created one. It’s made of five flowing hand gestures and I’d like to teach it to you now. Please cradle your phone so you can use both hands.
Start by putting your palms and fingers together in a prayer pose. This represents the instinct we each had to embark on our studies. And is a reminder to have faith in our talents and calling.
Keeping your thumbs together, please bend in your fingers so your nails touch, making a heart shape. It is from here that we create and craft ceremonies. The heart is also where joy flows back and forth as our words and rituals honor and heal others.
Now lace your fingers and thumbs, clasping your hands together. This symbolizes our tribe of peers, teachers, and resources that intertwine and support us, so we never feel we are in it alone.
Let’s all cup our hands and extend our arms. This is a stance of offering and sharing with our communities. As we give, our cups will receive until they overflow with abundance.
Please bring your cupped, abundant hands in, laying your palms flat on your chest. Feel the warmth that comes from faith, love, giving, sharing, and receiving. Take it in. Cherish it.
For this… This is what being a Celebrant feels like.
May your journey be joyous. Congratulations!