Comforting Passages for a Memorial Service

Over in this thread, I mentioned how my mother-in-law passed away on Christmas Eve. Come Sunday, we’re having a memorial service for her and the responsibility has fallen to me to come up with some relevant, comforting passages to be read. I already have two scriptures that I hope will work well (Phillippians 4:6-9 and Matthew 11:28), but short of that, I’m at a loss.

If anyone else knows a nice poem or quotation or even another bible verse, I’d greatly appreciate it. I’ve never had to coordinate a funeral before, so this is all new to me and I’m a little worried that I’ll not do my mother-in-law justice. So please help me Dopers. Your assistance always comes through for me.

Thanks, as usual, in advance.

I am curious as to why you have to choose passages. Are you volunteering to give a eulogy or what? If she was religious, it might be easier to get a pastor for the service. My grandma didn’t attend church but she was vaguely god-believing throughout her life. My aunt found a nice non-denominational pastor who did the services and I thought it was a really nice arrangement.

Well first, the pastor said they wanted to read something that was representative of her. Then second, yes, some of us are supposed to speak and I’d like to be prepared. Also, yes she was highly religious (methodist).

One that I hear often at funerals, and find particularly comforting, is St John’s Gospel, chapter 11 (the raising of Lazarus), particularly verses 17-27.

Here’s a list of suggested readings for Catholic funerals. You may find it helpful.

I am sorry for your loss, Faithfool.

Whether a particular passage works for you will depend a lot on how you think your mother-in-law would like it and how strongly religious she was, I would expect.

One that I’ve always liked are Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, which is an odd mixture of faith at the beginning, and near nihlism towards the end which may or may not be comforting at a funeral; you could just do the first 15 verses, or the whole thing, depending on how you might think your mother-in-law might have reacted to it.

Another, more affirmative reading is Romans 8, 31-39.

Best wishes.

If you’re looking for a poem that’s not explicitly religious, yet has a clear religious overtone, you might try “Crossing the Bar” by Tennyson.

Just thought of another: When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted, by Kipling.

Revelation 21:1-4 Revelation 21 (KJV) - And I saw a new

2nd Tim 4:6-8


You are standing upon a shore…somewhere.
A ship before you spreads her white sails and
starts for the blue ocean. She is a beautiful
and strong ship and you watch her until she
hangs like a speck of white cloud just where
the sea and sky come down to mingle with
each other.

Then someone at your side says, “There…
well, well. She’s Gone.”

Gone Where? From your sight-that’s all.
She is just as large in mast and spar as
when she left your shore, just as strong
and able. Her diminished size is in you,
not in her, and while someone at your
side is saying, “She’s gone…” there are
other eyes watching her coming and ready
to take up the glad shout, “There she comes.”
By Ernest K Gann

Thank you everyone for the suggestions. The poems are lovely and I’ve now found quite a few scriptures that will be appropriate. I also appreciate your kind words. All this help means a lot to me.

glad to help!

I’ve always been partial to the poem “Don’t stand at my grave and weep”

Motorgirl, my husband fell in love with that poem. After much agonizing, it’ll be the one I read at the memorial. Thank you.

Desiderata is very lovely.
Another doper recommended it some time ago and it has become a favorite of mine.

You’re welcome. I wish you both all possible comfort and peace as you say farewell.

Here is what I gave my children to read at my memorial:

Some day you will hear or read that I am dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I’ll have changed residence, that is all. I’ll have moved out of this chronically faulty clay shell into a house that is immortal—into a body that death cannot touch and that sin cannot taint–a body fashioned like unto His glorious body–a body that is far more fit to be a the temple of the Holy Spirit. I was born in the flesh in 1951. I was born in the spirit and baptized in 1981. I was restored and welcomed back into fellowship after a long flight from God in 2009. That which is born of the flesh may die, for the wages of sin is death. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever, for the gift of God is eternal life. He who promised is utterly faithful so be assured that I am not dead—I’ve only left the building and returned home. Come see me when you can–the Son is shining and there are no more tears, at his right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I hope that will comfort them. I do not know if you can adapt it. But if your faith is at all like mine, you will know she is not less alive, she is more alive. She just isn’t right here.