To help those who will offer a reflection on the life of the deceased, the following are some guidelines for consideration in preparing the reflection. The Words of Remembrance need to be written in order to stay focused on the message during an emotional time. The reflection should not be longer than a few minutes. Also included in this document is a copy of a reflection for consideration. A copy of your reflection, prior to the service, should be available to the minister conducting the service.
Important to all Christians is hearing the loved one’s journey of faith and how faith in God and the Church were part of their life. An opportunity to focus on one or two outstanding virtues, characteristics or gifts of the one being remembered is important.
Words of Remembrance may be offered at:
- Funeral Vigil
- Funeral Mass following the Prayer after Communion
- Funeral Committal
Some topic areas may include:
- Relationship with God and Church
- When and where the deceased was born
- Brothers and Sisters
- Early childhood – localities and interests
- Comments on marriage, children, significant relationships
- Perhaps go for a walk around your loved one’s house and garden as this may trigger memories and ideas.
- Talking to close relatives, friends, and acquaintances is also an excellent way to remember things.
If you are still not sure how to put your thoughts and emotions down on paper, here are some tips to help you with the writing process:
- Make some notes of your memories, special moments together, your feelings for that person and anything else that comes to mind. It doesn’t necessarily have to be their life story but more about what your loved one meant to you.
- From these notes pick out items that are especially meaningful. If it is appropriate you could include something humorous as humor can help diffuse some of the tension people at a funeral might have and can help to make the tribute personal and unique.
- Write a rough draft without worrying about how it sounds – you can polish and review it later once you have all your thoughts down on paper. Organize the information so that it contains an introduction, middle and end.
- Review and polish your reflection and practice reading it out loud.
Model of Words of Remembrance for a wife and mother given by a son:
It is with sadness yet hope in the enduring power of the Risen Jesus, that, as Miriam’s son and on behalf of our family, I want to thank all of you for your presence this day. Mother so loved her family and friends and your expressions of love and support have carried us through this dark valley.
Words, of course, could never capture completely the richness and beauty of mom’s life and legacy. As a devoted wife for nearly 50 years, mother to her three children, sister, grandmother and great grandmother and dear friend to so many, mom was one of a kind.
While the love of her life, our father Jim, filled mom’s life with endless love and adventure and his death was really difficult for mom, her faith and the love of her family and friends carried her through that difficult chapter in her life.
One of the many characteristics of mom that still puts a smile on my face is the way she was able to so easily make friends with the people that came into her life. Whether it was the neighbor next door, or the mailman or just a person she may have met at the store; no one was ever really a ‘stranger’ to her. She had a wonderful way of making them the center of her time and attention and before long she was calling them, ”her friend!”
During mom’s illness, I don’t know what we would have done without the caring ‘angels’ from hospice. They were so attentive as mom was preparing for her great passage into eternity. At this time we would like to acknowledge and thank in a special way Evelyn and Maria for their love and care for mom during her final days on this earth.
Mom’s most endearing quality, of course, was her love and faith in the Lord Jesus. As a faithful Catholic all her life, faith was far more than a one hour a week experience at Mass on Sunday. Her Catholic faith and her abiding love for the Lord in the Eucharist was the center of her life and shaped who she was for all of us. May the Lord Jesus, whom she received often in the Eucharist, now welcome her to her eternal home and bring her a peace and joy that knows no end.