With an average of 1 in 6 people in the UK experiencing a mental health issue within the last week, more and more families are being affected by the death of someone they love who has battled with their mental health.
Through working with families at their time of grief, I have found that they often wish to acknowledge the more difficult parts of their loved one’s life during the funeral ceremony.
Of course, no two people are the same, and most ceremonies will still be filled with fond memories, family stories and musical tributes to the person who has died, reflecting their personality and celebrating their life.
Some families have commented that they wish to recognise their loved one’s difficulties because, despite the hardships, it was part of their journey in life. It is often appropriate to include a poem that gently focuses on this area of their life in amongst all the other elements of the ceremony.
I am often asked to recommend a reading that will be suitable and during my time as a Celebrant I have discovered some beautiful poems, by wonderful writers, which families have said they gained some comfort from at a difficult time.
DEATH IS NOT THE END
Death is not the end
but the beginning
of a metamorphosis.
For matter is never destroyed,
and rearranged –
often more perfectly.
Witness how in the moment of the caterpillar’s death
the beauty of the butterfly is born
and released from the prison of the cocoon
it flies free.
A BIRD IN THE MIST
At times like this,
We may look through books for the perfect words
To give form to our feelings,
Make the thing complete,
Set the matter at rest.
Yet, in hours of searching,
Each piece lies rejected - too precise, too difficult, too sweet,
Too harsh, implying what we do not wish to say.
But, look into the grey wide sky,
And the thoughts will come like this:
Remember me when I loved you most and you loved me most.
Remember me when I was my bravest and I did you right.
Then, let that be our secret bond
And, let us rise in the morning and enjoy the light
And know that the bird in the mist is returning to the sun.
WHEN I’M GONE
When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile
Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned
And remember only the smile
Forget unkind words I have spoken
Remember some good I have done
Forget that I ever had heartache
And remember I've had loads of fun
Forget that I've stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way
Remember I have fought some hard battles
And won, ere the close of the day
Then forget to grieve for my going
I would not have you sad for a day
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay
And come in the shade of evening
When the sun paints the sky in the west
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best.
(Mrs Lyman Hancock)
NO ONE KNEW
No one knew the torment
that you were going through;
We only kept on seeing
What we really wanted to.
We saw the outward smile,
but not your inner pain;
We never really dreamt,
That you would never smile again.
Forgive us if we failed to see,
What we could do to aid;
Or if we failed to comprehend,
How much you were afraid.
We pray your mental anguish,
Will now forever cease;
And that your deep anxieties,
Will be replaced by peace.
We know your pain invaded,
Every single thought you had;
It made you cry internally,
And deeply, deeply sad.
But we in turn remember,
The good times, not the bad;
We remember when you smiled at us,
And not when you were sad.
So when we think about your life,
We won’t dwell upon its close;
We’ll remember all the good times,
And forget about life’s blows.
We’ll remember all the happiness,
The joy and not the tears;
The assurance and the confidence,
And not irrational fears.
Our lives have all been better,
Because you have been there;
So now we leave your memory,
In God’s all-loving care.
YOU MATTERED TO ME
You lived your life thinking that no one cared
You thought you were all alone, your heart feeling tattered
I am here to tell you that you were wrong
‘Cause you see, Mum, to me you mattered.
I loved you when you were angry and mean
I loved you when you were kind as could be
I loved you not just because I had to
I loved you because you mattered to me.
It hurts to know that now you’re gone
And never will your face again I see
I hurt not because I am supposed to
I hurt because you mattered to me.
I have to love on each day without you
It doesn’t get easier as it is supposed to be
I feel the loss of you to my very soul
Because you see, Mum, you mattered to me.
Your touch, your smile, your funny wit,
The times it was just you and me
I will miss you, Mum, with all my heart
‘Cause you still matter to me.
(Mental Health Foundation Statistics UK)
©Ellie Lomas 2018