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Example Funeral Ceremony for a lady of seventy

The main part of the Funeral ceremony is delivered at a private venue - at home, at a reception venue, a municipal or church hall, a funeral parlour chapel, a hotel function room or similar. When the main ceremony is completed, the ceremony is adjourned, mourners then proceed to the crematorium where the final 5-10 minutes of the ceremony take place.

1. Introduction and Welcome
My name is Mary Citizen and I am a civil celebrant. On behalf of the family of Grace Davies I thank everyone for coming to this ceremony today.

Death in a number of ways unites us all. Grace’s death, for a time demands that each one of us put aside our toil, our cares, our business, our pleasure and our folly, to unite ourselves with everyone here — fellow mourners — who share in the common bond of love and respect for Grace. It is fitting that we should reflect on what we owe to those who have gone before us. Our lives are but the latest notes in a music that began with the birth of humanity itself.

That music is a song of households knit in the bonds of mutual affection; of cities and states built up by courage and self-devotion; of benefits bestowed by wit and labour—- not only for the aid of the weak and helpless, but for the benefit of all; of knowledge won from nature; of precious thoughts and teaching imparted by wise men and women through the ages. How immense and how deep is our debt to the past!

How much we owe to the goodness, the intelligence, and the energy of men and women who are now dead, and who toiled in faith and patience for the children of their day and for us of a remoter time. How few of these forerunners have we known ?

Yet we derive from them our life, our health, our stores of sustenance, our learning, our all. It is one of our profoundest joys to know that we are united to this great past. As Auguste Comte said:
To live in thought with the dead is one of the most precious privileges of humanity.

2. The Biography/Eulogy
Grace Davies was born in Truro, Cornwall, England in 1907. She did the limited schooling which was normal for girls of that time.

At the age of twenty she came to this country in the steps of her brother, Hal. It was planned that the whole family migrate to Australia, but then came the Great Depression. During these tough years Grace worked as a home help.

During the early years of the Second World War she met Tom — then a soldier. In 1942 they married — the beginning of a long and happy relationship. In the years following their two daughters, Fiona and Jean were born. After his discharge Grace and Tom lived on farms. Tom was a stockman and a man of the land.

Eventually, they settled in South Yarra. Tom worked on boilers in the city. Their children remember their parents as dedicated to their welfare and their education. Their father, who was supported fully by their mother, was a well read and self-educated man who believed in the best intellectual and human values himself and passed them on to his daughters.

Tom, lovingly looked after by Grace to the end, died in 1973.
The loss of her husband, to whom she was so close, left a deep emptiness in Grace’s life.

During the last two and a half years she suffered from an undiagnosed illness. She gradually lost weight and became worse. Last week she was due to go to hospital. She met her death before she went, last Thursday, 7th September 1978.

(Description of Person)
Grace was basically a happy person not given to moods or temper. She was an uncomplaining woman who took life in her stride — and faced it with an even temperament. She was an extremely tolerant and broadminded person who respected not only the views and convictions of others but also their feelings and their imperfections. A kind and gentle person who nevertheless had a strong character.

She was happiest in what she lived as her true role — that of homemaker and mother. She was hospitable to all — and was in her element providing her visitors with scones and tea— enjoying their comfort. In fact she was a superb cook — not only her family had the benefit of this but also her friends and the boarders whom she looked after in recent years.

Grace was an extrovert who was interested much more in people than she was in things. When she travelled, and she liked travelling, she would strike up a conversation with anyone in a friendly, sociable and genuinely interested way. She considered herself a citizen of the world — believed in a world community of all men and rejected discrimination and prejudice in all its forms.

She was a loving grandmother and delighted in the company of her three grandsons— Brian, Mark and Christopher.

There are a number of other: things I could put on the record about Grace. She was a Labor supporter — an admirer of Jim Cairns. She enjoyed light music and musical comedy. She liked working in her garden in her house at Hampton and got on well with her neighbours. She was known as ‘Mrs. D’’ to nearly everyone. She thought of events and sent gifts and cards to the members of her family without fail. She enjoyed TV, her courses at the Council of Adult Education, and her membership of the War Widows Association .

The note on which I wish to end these comments is the quality which most stands out to me about Mrs. D or Grace — her unselfishness. She did not live for herself but for others. She did not buy for herself but for others. On the other hand she hated being a trouble to anyone or causing anyone else inconvenience. But she would go to no end of trouble for her family, her loved ones and her friends.
As I thought about Grace I had the feeling that I could say, without exaggeration, that here was a woman who was a living contribution to people in her world and their benefit.

3. Option of Reflection/Prayer
I will now call on everyone to observe a few moments silence. Those of you who are believers may care to take this time to pray, those of you who are not believers may just wish to take this time to reflect on the meaning Grace’s life had for you.

(Silence period)

To the immediate family — to Fiona and Fred, Jean and Rex and their families — we all extend our deepest sympathy. We come with them as mourners. We share their grief. When at other times we grieve— over lost opportunities, lost wealth, or health — whenever a loss brings sorrow it is our part to turn the affliction to some wise purpose in our life’s experience. We cannot think of Grace’s death without resolving to live a fuller more meaningful life of our own. Because we loved her, because we are here, even now she exerts her influence on us. Her death causes us to get our values into perspective.

While we sincerely grieve today because we are parting with someone we have known and loved, we are also faced with the fact that we do not mourn alone. At this very moment thousands of others are mourning the loss of their loved ones. Many of these have not died in peace, at the end of a full and useful life as Grace’s was. Many have seen their loved ones torn from them by the awful demands of man’s inhumanity to man.

Bearing in mind the sorrows that others are experiencing today, we come to realise that we are living in a larger world than our own and that the best way to face the unavoidable fact of death and parting is to take upon our shoulders the troubles of others, to go on working that we may help to remove the existing causes of injustice and preventable sorrow in this world .

We will now proceed to the Fawkner Crematorium where the final part of this ceremony will take place.
(First part of funeral ceremony ends here i.e. at the parlour chapel. Mourners then proceed to the crematorium chapel.)

The first reading I have chosen as a tribute to Grace’s working life
is from Rabindranath Tagore

When Death Knocks

On the day when death will knock at thy door,
What wilt thou offer to him ?
I will set before my guest the full vessel of my life.
I will never let him go with empty hands.
All the sweet vintage of all my autumn days
And summer nights,
All the earnings and gleanings of my busy life
Will I place before him, at the close of my day.

During the last two and a half years of her life Grace experienced much sickness and pain. To end this service then I have chosen the famous poem of Lucretius.

On Life and death

Departed Comrade! Thou, redeemed from pain,
Shalt sleep the sleep that kings desire in vain:
Not thine the sense of loss
But lo, for us the void
That never shall be filled again.
Not thine, but ours, the grief.
All pain is fled from thee
And we are weeping in thy stead;
Tears for the mourners who are left behind
Peace everlasting for the quiet dead.

Tenderly and reverently
we commit the body of our friend Grace
to the purifying fire,
and ultimately to mother earth
from which all life comes,
and to which all life, in the end, returns.

We are grateful for the life that has been lived
and for all that live has meant to each and every one of us.

Hereby may we highly resolve that while we live
we will strive with all our might
to make our living of real worth
and carry on the work that has been laid down.

So in the consciousness of work well done
and a life well lived,
death, in the deepest sense can have no sting.
We now leave the ashes of our friend in peace.
With respect we beat her farewell.,
Thinking of her,
let us leave this place in quietness of spirit
and live with concern and affection
one for another.