Words always find a way to comfort us, even during the most trying times. But sometimes, when we are so overwhelmed with emotions after losing a loved one, words from other people who may have gone through exactly what you are feeling may help you express yourself better.
Here are a few of the most famous poems that can help you express your emotions at the funeral of a loved one:
This poem by Emily Dickinson reminds us that life is precious because we only get to live it once. The lines:
“That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet”
are simple, direct and resonate with people, teaching all of us that a funeral is not just a time to mourn, but a time to celebrate a life lived.
In her short poem named "Afterglow," Helen Lowrie Marshall aptly captures the essence of how we should remember our loved ones after they are no longer with us, making the poem ideal for someone who has brought you immense happiness during your time with them.
One of the most popular funeral poems, this one talks about how even after death, your loved ones are never really gone because they are always with you in spirit everywhere and the memories you have of them still matter.
Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore, in his poem "Farewell My Friends," talks about how beautiful it is to live your life well, for as long as it lasts until your time here on earth is over, and you have to say goodbye to your friends.
This short but sweet poem by Robert Burns pays tribute to someone who has a "virtuous heart," someone who is a "friend of man, truth, and age." It is ideal for someone who liked to live their lives most genuinely.
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Pallbearers are those people who carry or escort the casket at the funeral of a loved one. Usually pallbearers are close friends or family members of the deceased, and they can be either men or women.
Being a pallbearer is a great honor and signifies that the pallbearer had a very special relationship with the deceased. Usually there are about six to eight pallbearers in a funeral as there are eight handles--three on each side, and one each at the front and back in a casket. Depending on the design of the casket, sometimes there may only be the handles on the sides.
The responsibility of a pallbearer is to carry the casket from the venue of the funeral to the hearse or funeral coach. Then, if there is a cemetery burial after the funeral service, the pallbearers must carry the casket from the hearse to the site of burial. Moreover, if the funeral service is closed casket, the pallbearers usually bring in the casket at the start of the ceremony. However, for an open casket funeral, the casket will already be placed at the venue by the staff of the funeral home you have hired.
How to choose a pallbearer
When choosing a pallbearer, it is important to keep in mind that this is a very special and honorable responsibility which should be filled only by the people who were extremely close to the deceased. Whether it is a father, mother, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, cousin, husband, wife, or best friend, it is crucial that a pallbearer is emotionally, mentally and physically capable of carrying out the task.
If any person is unfit mentally, emotionally or physically, they can serve as an honorary pallbearer. This means that they can walk alongside the actual pallbearers without having to carry the casket.
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Most people believe that funeral ceremonies can be officiated only by religious leaders such as priests or ministers. However, the truth is that there are no rules that say that only religious leaders can conduct a funeral service. In fact, unlike many ceremonies such as a wedding, the person officiating a funeral does not need to have power vested in them by a higher authority.
What this means is that basically anyone can conduct a funeral ceremony. What matters is that the service is in tune with the deceased's beliefs or what the family sees as most fitting. With that in mind, here are your options when it comes to conducting a funeral service:
Religious leaders are the most common conductors of funeral services as most funerals are conducted following a set of religious orders. For instance, a prayer or reading may be a part of the step, which is usually carried out by a priest or a vicar. This is most suitable if your loved one was religious or spiritual. You can ask the religious leader to conduct the funeral in a place of worship, and he/she may ask questions regarding your loved one or if there are any specific requirements.
Very few are aware of celebrants. You probably know them and what they do, but don't know what they are called. Celebrants are simply people who conduct a funeral ceremony. They are not associated with any religion or belief system. They are professionals who know the right way to officiate funeral ceremonies as per the wishes of the deceased or the family, and this includes religious and non-religious ceremonies.
Family members and close friends
As mentioned before, anyone can conduct a funeral service since one does not need to have a certain power or authority to do so. This means that even friends and family members can conduct a funeral service if they wish to do so.
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Funerals are an important ceremony for people who have lost their loved ones. It is like a physical point of departure that allows them to say their final goodbyes. While there are no written rules that dictate how one attending a funeral should behave, there are some basic etiquette rules that everyone should keep in mind.
Here are the basic do’s and don’ts when attending a funeral. Make sure you follow each and every one of them the next time you go to a memorial service. It shows respect and care for the grieving.
Don’t show up late
Make sure that you are never ever late to a funeral! If possible, it's always the best practice to show up around 10 to 15 minutes early. If there is something that is unavoidable and you are late by any chance, make sure to make a quiet entrance inside the venue. For example, you could enter your seat by taking the side aisle.
Don’t sit anywhere you want
Usually the first few rows of seats are meant for families, relatives and close friends. So if you do not fall into these categories, make sure that you choose a seat that is somewhere in the middle or back.
Do restrain from being on your phone and social media
Make sure that your phone is in silent mode, or switched off. It is extremely inappropriate and disrespectful to be on your phone during a funeral whether to reply to a text, or take pictures or videos and upload on social media like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Do wear modest clothes
Remember that when you attend a funeral, your purpose is to offer your condolences and pay your respects. For this, you do not have to dress extravagantly. Always wear modest and conservative clothes with minimal accessories. You don’t necessarily have to wear all black, just dark colors unless the deceased has requested something different before passing.
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Planning a funeral is often seen as a daunting task by many. While it may not be the most exciting project, it is not as complicated and morbid as it seems. After all, when the time comes, we are all, one day, most likely going to have to plan the funeral of a loved one. Or maybe you want to plan your own funeral in advance.
On that note, busted are the most common myths and misconceptions about funeral planning:
Usually, funerals are expensive. There’s no doubt about that. Then why have we included this among our list of myths? Because funerals don’t always have to cost a fortune. They are expensive only because we follow the societal expectation of what a funeral should be – extravagant floral decorations, an expensive hearse, fancy catering and more. You don’t have to follow this template. Instead, you can make it more personal and intimate on a budget.
Not all funerals have to be religious. Depending on what your loved one prefers, or even if they don’t share their final wishes, depending on what you believe they would appreciate, a funeral can be humanist. There is no requirement for conducting a funeral at a place of worship. A funeral should be meaningful, celebrating the life of a loved one in the most appropriate way possible.
Often, many people believe that death is too grim a subject to focus on, especially when your time has not yet come. This is why many people don’t make their final wishes known to their family. But this only leads to more confusion and disagreement during a time that is already difficult for the family. It is always better to have a healthy discussion about your final wishes with those who are likely to plan your funeral.
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