Funeral Service of Congregant in St. Louis, MO
Call to Worship
Welcome to all of you on behalf of the First Unitarian Church. Although we meet for a somber occasion, we do not only meet to mourn: but also to celebrate the life and consecrate the memory of L.J.
Opening Words, Khalil Gibran
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
This Chalice is the symbol of our lives, burning brightly and intensely. The spark of its arrival is as glorious and unbelievable as our own births: bursting forth fire into the darkness. Its life is like ours: a slow, beautiful, and mesmerizing burn that can only be watched in awe as it dances and twists in the wind. And its inevitable snuff is as sudden and chilling as our own death. This chalice is the symbol of our lives, to be cherished and honored for its beauty, presence, and impermanence.
Opening Hymn #38 Morning Has Broken
Eulogy: Written and read by daughters.
Friends, we meet here today to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of L.J. It has been said to me several times this past week, L.J. was a man of great wit and humor who inspired us to expand our hearts and be compassionate to all whom we meet. He brought light and life and love into his family and friendships, and he was the calm in any storm that accidentally engulfed him on his path. L.J. was a fine man, wonderful father, loyal brother, and trusted friend.
Because of his seemingly endless warm smiles and the way he lovingly greeted us with open arms, many of us feel that we have lost a true comrade from the world. For those of us who did not know about L.J.’s illness, we were shocked to hear that he had died. But for his closest friends and family, his death was a relief from the pain and discomfort he felt in the end of his life. Now, at his funeral, with his life and illness over, we face the fact that he has died, his journey here has ended, and now we must enter once again into our lives with this new sadness in our hearts and the weight of loss on our shoulders.
Grief is a normal response when we find suddenly that the flame has been snuffed out. And grieve we shall, for L.J.’s life was precious to many people in this room, and his friendship and presence will leave an empty space for his family and friends. But I don’t have to tell you about your grief over him; I know that in your own hearts you have a private grief and private feelings that will well up at their leisure. And when they do, know that letting yourself be washed over by them is the only way through.
But grief is not by any means our only emotion at this time. This is also a time of great thankfulness. A loss like this one pushes us to reclaim the value and beauty of the life that is paired with it. Ultimately no life can ever be taken back: each of us affects and marks this world as L.J. did: irreversibly imprinting on those he loved that he was dedicated to them, and setting an example for us all what it means to be committed to one’s work and family. Thus we mark here, with love and thankfulness, the memories we have of L.J.
In this ceremony, each of you has a sacred task: to hold on to the love, the kindness, the example that L.J.’s life set for us. “Though we let go of his life, we must claim more fully his lasting influence. This is a sacred and deeply religious task, to affirm life in the midst of death, to assert what it means to live well, knowing we will die.” *
I now invite first the family of L.J. forward to share their remembrances.
Daughters: K.J. and R.J., Wife: H. J., Bestfriends: T.H. and W.M., Brother: A.J.
Requiem for L.J.
A requiem is a prayer for the dead, so now is a time for us to send forth our love into the universe. Not knowing the whereabouts of the even the existence of the soul after death, our only task now is to send love out into the universe, honoring L.J.’s life with one final and massive giving of love, as all the people who loved him are in this room together.
L.J., know that we know how much you have loved us, and know that we have been changed by it. We miss you already, and are feeling out what it means to have this you-shaped-hole in our worlds. Who you are is precious to us, and the things you taught us in this life will be carried forward in our memory. We love you, we miss you. Only time will ease the pain of our sorrow, but with you in mind we go forth, back into our lives, vowing to let your legacy live, carrying your spirit with us.
Hymn #29 Joyful, Joyful! We Adore Thee
May we go forth from this day with a renewed sense of our own mortality, and may we be called to action in our own lives because of it. Let us honor the life of L.J. by more keenly working towards wholeness and beauty in our own lives. Go in peace.
*Quoted text from Rev. Thomas Perchlik