Readings at funerals

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Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#1
I need tips, I am out of my depth on this one.

I have been asked to make a reading at a big funeral, a civvy one, and very tragic circumstances.
Supposedly I am the rufty tufty ex-military guy who can carry it off with the voice and presence the family would like, so I don't want to end up blubbing like a schoolgirl at the front of a church full of people - at least not until I have gotten through it:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

It only happened yesterday, and at the moment I cannot even read it without getting a dust problem. I am also acutely aware of the Cummins/Amos funeral connection in 1989.

Help.
 
J

Joshua Slocum

Guest
#2
had to do it myself for my sister
no easy way
keep your head up high take your time
and be proud that your friends asked you to do this because it is indeed an honour and for them something which will help the greiving process
 
#3
Had to do the same at my brother's funeral recently. Don't think about the negatives, and - strangely - enjoy the experience as per Joshua Slocum's comments. It is an honour.

*** I don't mean "enjoy" in the common meaning of the word, but don't know how to express. Relax/don't sweat it is maybe a better turn of phrase.
 
#5
From experience.
You can memorise it - then be sure to pick a spot without any faces to recite it to (above any heads).
You can read it staring at the printed words.
Practice until you can say it without choking.
Or do as I did. Make it real, feel the words, choke, tears and stop for a few seconds. Recite out real loud and look at the relevant people.
TBH it is more real and much respect earned. Without the emotion the words just can't be real.
Sorry.
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#6
Totally ignore everything which is going on beforehand if you can. Don't get caught up speaking to family and friends, try not to listen to the service, don't sing the hymns etc. You are not there to take part in the funeral, you are there to do a job.

While you are waiting to read, pick a fixed place on the wall and focus on it to the exclusion of everything else around you, concentrating on the reading and how you intend to give it.

Hopefully by doing this you will have kept yourself a little bit removed from the emotion of everyone and everything around you, leaving you free to do the best you can on the reading. During the reading try to look up at the congregation, but avoid eye contact with the immediate family or really emotional friends unless you are really feeling in control.

Once it is done, sit down, take a deep breath and then fall apart if you want to - the command appointment is finished!
 
#7
Did it at my Dads, had my wife ready with exactly the same words printed up for her in case I didn't make it... Did ok, just don't make eye contact with anyone [especially the front rows] until you're done, and didn't need the wife but she was there just in case.....
 
#9
Did it for my Grandad.

Being the only currently serving member of even my extended family, I signed out a set of No1's, polished my medals, and tipped up in immacculate condition as I know he'd have loved it.

Half way through the reading I knew I was losing it, so I either stared at the script or at the far wall above eye contact with people. Everyone said afterwards the efforts I had gone to and the fact I barely made it through anyway just showed how much it meant to me.
 

Schaden

On ROPS
On ROPs
Book Reviewer
#10
Practice and then practice some more - ask if you can have a run through a couple of times in the church prior to the service.
 
#11
Only done it the once but found it very cathartic.

I rehearsed it often, on runs and in the sauna and managed to crack it without a crib-sheet. I did look around and at individuals and at the coffin.

I got dressed up in No1 Dress (top tip - if you're helping carry the coffin to the grave have some padding, otherwise you'll have a hole punched into your shoulder).
 
#13
Practice and then practice some more - ask if you can have a run through a couple of times in the church prior to the service.
Only done it the once but found it very cathartic.

I rehearsed it often, on runs and in the sauna and managed to crack it without a crib-sheet. I did look around and at individuals and at the coffin.
I didn't set foot in the church for maybe 15 years before my brother's funeral, although I had grown up around the building. Practice in private until you are happy with what you're going to say. I found eye contact was better for me, but not for too long on each individual. You are there to comfort others, and the Duke's say, you are there to do a job - crack on and do the best that you can.

As Brotherton Lad says - I found it very cathartic, and perhaps that was the word I was looking for.
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#14
Thanks guys, everything taken on board.
I'll head up there tomorrow and give it my best Ian Paisley from the lectern or whatever they have, and do some wall target acquisition.....
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#15
Also, as cheesy as it sounds, think about the piece you are reading. I had to read the same one at a family funeral recently, and it is actually quite a positive piece.
 
J

Joshua Slocum

Guest
#16
keep your head held high
breath slowly
take your time, in fact read nice and slow every one will wait for you
you can always ask the vicar for help they get the jitters as well
I know its not easy but and its a big but you are being placed in a position of responsibility
afterwards you can always say a few words about your friend, it eases the pain
a man who has no friends is a man forgotten
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#17
Also, as cheesy as it sounds, think about the piece you are reading. I had to read the same one at a family funeral recently, and it is actually quite a positive piece.
It is, but TBH the whole situation in this particular case is just too ******* sad for words, it's hard to get any positive out of it at this point.
I guess I should be grateful the version given to me is the short abridged one verse option......
 
#18
Totally ignore everything which is going on beforehand if you can. Don't get caught up speaking to family and friends, try not to listen to the service, don't sing the hymns etc. You are not there to take part in the funeral, you are there to do a job.

While you are waiting to read, pick a fixed place on the wall and focus on it to the exclusion of everything else around you, concentrating on the reading and how you intend to give it.

Hopefully by doing this you will have kept yourself a little bit removed from the emotion of everyone and everything around you, leaving you free to do the best you can on the reading. During the reading try to look up at the congregation, but avoid eye contact with the immediate family or really emotional friends unless you are really feeling in control.

Once it is done, sit down, take a deep breath and then fall apart if you want to - the command appointment is finished!
I'd go with that.

I once was asked to do a last post for an old boy. It was whilst I was in training at Harrogate.

I sat at the back, and was tasked with banging out the LP at the end of a poem read by one of the departeds sons/grandsons.

But before that the lad that had taken me down read a piece (I can't remember what he read) but he broke down in tears half way through.

The next 10 mins have got have been the worst10mins of my entire life, as I questioned why the fcuk I was there! ould I do it etc. Man test.

Still, banged it out in a quality fashion, and recieved mucho praise. Few pints, a gore tex jacket as a thank you (it was an old battered one but a gift well recieved) and back to trade.

A few of teh instrs recognised me and tahnked me over the next few days.
 
#19
There's a great deal of very good advice here. I've done a couple and in my current job I have to do a fair few emotional bible readings on Remembrance Day etc. I am normally a nervous wreck in the run up, but rehearsal, particularly in the place that you will actually deliver the reading, is a big help and when the time comes and you actually commit and walk forward, I find the nerves have gone. I always take a moment to pause and scan the congregation before launching forth - that's probably a bit of a control thing, but it works for me. Remember - it's not as if people want you to screw it up so there'll be lots of positive vibes coming your way!

Oh, and go on the piss afterwards, not beforehand!
 
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