What words do we share at a funeral?
Who writes them?
Who says them?
Who hears them?
by Jeanne Lohmann
Our stories lie down in the orchard,
their time is not now, but something is
coming, something is going away. They
rise to the stars, and wait to be told.
There are listeners who know how little
we know, how much we are feeling.
We had to go our own way, a little off course,
always, no matter how specific the directions
seemed at the time. In this universe if we’re lucky,
we will live in our children’s stories,
their tales that will turn us to legend,
some absurd truth that has nothing to do
with our plans, our meticulous records.
No matter what stories we discard or keep,
they will give us a life we cannot imagine.
From The Light of Invisible Bodies by Jeanne Lohmann
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.
All is well.
by Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918, Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral
‘The King of Terrors’, a sermon on death delivered in St Paul’s Cathedral on Whitsunday 1910, while the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster: published in Facts of the Faith, 1919
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet white doves in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.
(slightly changed from the original)