Funeral readings – Quotes and thoughts

Sorted alphabetically by title or first line.

A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam and for a brief moment its glory and beauty belong to the world. But then it flys on again and though we wish it could have stayed, we feel so lucky to have seen it.
A new life begins for us with every second. Let us go forward joyously to meet it. We must press on, whether we will or not, and we shall walk better with our eyes before us than with them ever cast behind.
Jerome K Jerome, author (1859 – 1926)
And when the stream that overflows has passed, a consciousness remains upon the silent shore of memory; images and precious thoughts that shall not be and cannot be destroyed.
William Wordsworth, Romantic poet (1770 – 1850)
Note: from his 1814 poem ‘The Excursion.’
Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5: 4
Cowards die many times before their death;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
William Shakespeare, poet and playwright (baptized 26th April, 1564 – 1616)
Note: from Julius Caesar.
Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet, philosopher and playwright (1861 – 1941)
Do not seek to have everything that happens happen as you wish, but wish for everything to happen as it actually does happen, and your life will be serene.
Epictetus, Greek Stoic philosopher (ca 55 – ca 135)
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.
Everything that has a beginning has an end. Make your peace with that and all will be well.
Grief is the price we pay for love.
Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, sleep in peace. God is awake.
Victor Hugo, French poet, novelist and statesman (1802 – 1885)
Human existence is girt round with mystery: the narrow region of our experience is a small island in the midst of a boundless sea. To add to the mystery, the domain of our earthly existence is not only an island of infinite space, but also in infinite time. The past and the future are alike shrouded from us: we neither know the origin of anything which is, nor its final destination.
John Stuart Mill, philosopher, political economist and MP (1806 – 1873)
He who binds himself a joy does the winged life destroy.
But he who kisses the joy as it flies lives in eternity’s sun rise.
William Blake, poet and painter (1757 – 1827)
It is better to learn early of the inevitable depths, for then sorrow and death take their proper place in life, and one is not afraid.
Pearl S Buck, prolific American writer (1892 – 1973)
In quitting this strange world, he now has gone a little ahead of me. This is of little significance. Fo us believing physicists, the separation of past, present, and future has only the character of an illusion.
Albert Einstein, German born theoretical physicist (1879 – 1955)
Note: from a letter he wrote on the death of physicist M. Besso.
In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better. And yet this is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you less miserable now. I have experienced enough to know what I say.
Abraham Lincoln, American President (1809 – 1865)
If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.
Winnie the Pooh
Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone, kindness in another’s trouble, courage in your own.
Adam Lindsay Gordon, Australian poet, jockey and politician (1833 -1870)
Love like ours can never die.
Rudyard Kipling, author and poet (1865 – 1936)
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
A Vietnamese saying
May you have food and raiment, a soft pillow for your head,
May you be forty years in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead.
Old Irish Toast
May the light of love shine forth on you, on those for whom you care and on those who care for you. May you be ever blessed with peace and understanding as you travel through your life and may you come to the end of your journey in gentleness and joy.
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
Percy Shelley, poet (1792 – 1822)
Note: from his poem To a Skylark.
One day at a time; this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.
Adam Lindsay Gordon, Australian poet, jockey and politician (1833 -1870)
Our continual mistake is that we do not concentrate upon the present day, the actual hour, of our life: we live in the past or in the future; we are continually expecting the coming of some special moment when our life will unfold itself in its full significance. And we do not notice that life is flowing like water through our fingers.
Father Alexander Elchaninov, Russian priest and philosopher (1881 – 1934)
Some are bound to die young. By dying young a person stays young in people’s memory. If he burns brightly before he dies, his brightness shines for all time.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist and historian (1918 – 2008)
Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean.
Say not in grief that ‘he is no more’ but live in thankfulness that he was.
Old Hebrew proverb
The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.
Johann Wofgang Von Goethe, German polymath (1749 – 1832)
The memory of a good person is a blessing.
Proverb 10: 7
Those who loved can truly tell, the heartache of parting without farewell.
The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.
Irving Berlin, American composer and lyricist (1888 – 1989)
To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die.
Thomas Campbell, Scottish poet (1774 – 1844)
There is a word of grief the sounding token. There is a word bejewelled with bright tears. The saddest word fond lips have ever spoken, a little word that breaks the chain of years. Its utterance must ever bring emotion, the memories it crystals cannot die. ‘Tis known in every land, on every ocean, ’tis Goodbye.
Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.
Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, dramatist (1855 – 1934)
The moon and the year travel and pass away: also the day, also the wind.
Also the flesh passes away to the place of its quietness.
A Mayan poem
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
From Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’
Note: It is the line on the 9 foot cross that stands on the sunmmit of Observation Hill,  
Antartica in memory of Captain Scott, RN and his four companions who died on their return from the Pole in March, 1912.
The grave is but a covered bridge, leading from light to light, through a brief darkness.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American educator and poet (1807 – 1882)
The oak
Live thy Life, Young and old, Like yon oak, Bright in spring, Living gold;
Summer-rich Then; and then Autumn-changed Soberer-hued Gold again.
All his leaves Fall’n at length, Look, he stands, Trunk and bough Naked strength.
Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate (1809 – 1892)
We shall find peace. We shall hear angels, We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.
Anton Chekov, Russian short story writer and playwright (1860 – 1904)
What the caterpillar perceives is the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.
What though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight, though nothing can bring back the hour of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.
William Wordsworth, Romantic poet (1770 – 1850)
Note: from his poem ‘Intimations of Immortality.’
Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, which is why it is called the present.
Lasting Post’s collection of Funeral readings.