Stones of Remembrance: Beyond the Funeral

January 1st, 2011
PLACE OF TRIBUTE © Roman Milert |

The following ritual is an example of a service that can be held at a gathering the night before the funeral or at a meal served in the church dining room or family home following the funeral. There may be friends or relatives who would like to participate in the planning or serve as leader or readers. Suggestions for hymns and scripture should come from close friends or family. Other persons may be asked to create a worship center as follows: On a table, covered in a white cloth, are placed a lighted candle, a Bible (if possible, one that was used by the deceased) opened to an appropriate favorite passage, and a large, clear bowl of water. A favorite photograph and flowers may also be placed on the table. Before the service begins, small stones are distributed to all who would like to participate in the acts of remembering. The stones may be from a collection of the deceased, or they can be gathered by younger members of the family earlier in the day.

Friends and family gather around a table which holds an open Bible, a lighted candle, and a clear bowl of water. Before the Gathering, someone —possibly a child—may distribute small stones for the participants to hold in their hands and later bring to the table.


LEADER: Jesus calls to all who are heavy with grief and care: “Come to the mercy seat; come to the feast of love. Here bring your wounded hearts; here tell your anguish.” May our common sorrow and our common love bring us to the healing water that flows from the throne of God.

Hymn [Suggestions: “Shall We Gather at the River”, “O God Our Help in Ages Past”]

Psalm [Suggestion: Psalm 121]

Musical Response [an instrumental solo or another hymn]


LEADER: We invite you to listen to God's word and find in the reading comfort and hope as we keep a brief period of silence.

Scripture Readings [Suggestions: John 14:1-7, Rom 8:18-37, presented by one or more readers]



LEADER: The stones we hold in our hands are stones of remembrance, reminders our loved one Name, whose memory lights our hearts with grace and whose absence fills our nights and days with sadness. Let us give thanks for the gift of Name's life among us. I invite you now to share with us the gift of a memory.


[Participants have been asked to prepare a story about the deceased or to present a favorite reading]


LEADER: All who wish are invited to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the life of Name. Please close your prayer by saying: “Name's memory is a blessing forever. Amen.” [The leader allows time for spoken and silent prayers.]


LEADER: Gracious God, we thank you for the life of Name and for the joy of loving and being loved by her/him. We know that you are tender and caring, ready to shower us with your mercies that are new every day. Shelter us in the shadow of your wings; teach us the song of hope that comes with your presence. Give us courage to wait, surrounded by your great cloud of witnesses, for the promised resurrection. Through Jesus Christ, who lived and died and lives again. Amen.

LEADER: As we sing our closing hymn, I invite you to come to the table and place your stone of remembrance in the bowl of water. Then we will all join hands and continue singing together.

Hymn [Suggestions: “There Is a Balm in Gilead”, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”]

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