Chapter 9

Closing Words, Blessing and Benediction

The ending or closing of the service can be as straightforward and short as the introduction. You have already given any announcements during your welcome, so now you have allotted this time to be one of continuing reflection and intimacy.  

How do you want to end the service, celebration or remembrance and send people off back into their everyday lives?  Will you give a simple blessings, or combine a benediction with a final musical selection? Whatever you decide, here are some closing words, blessings and benedictions to send them on their way.    

“As we close, let me read some words from Maya Angelou. 

When I think of death, and of late the idea has come with alarming frequency, I seem at peace with the idea that a day will dawn when I will no longer be among those living in this valley of strange humors. 
I can accept the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else. I find it impossible to let a friend or relative go into that country of no return. Disbelief becomes my close companion, and anger often follows in its wake. I answer the heroic question 'Death, where is thy sting?' with ' it is here in my heart and mind and memories.'”

A Celtic Blessing

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in my eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at my end, and at my departing.
Amen.

Here are a few phrases to consider.  

“And, so now we’ve come to a time to say goodbye, and to reflect in a simple way on [Name’s] life.  So let’s spend these last few moments in silence, and you can recall [Name] in your own special way.  And if you do have a religious belief, you may wish to use this time for your own private prayer.”

or 

“[Name] had a good and varied life.  In the short time we’ve had here today, we’ve barely scratched the surface.  But, I hope that as you leave here you will do so with a real sense of having shared in a very special moment for a truly special person.”  

or  

“As we prepare to leave I would like to read a message of comfort and hope written in 1910 by Henry Scott Holland following the death of his friend and colleague, King Edward VII.    

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!
Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again! 

Peace 

May the One of Peace send peace to all who mourn, and comfort all the bereaved among us.

Ancient Celtic Blessing

Deep peace of the running waves to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the smiling stars to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the watching shepherds to you,
Deep peace of the One of Peace to you.

A Gaelic Farewell

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sunshine warm upon your face

May the rain fall softly upon your fields until we meet again,

And may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.  

A wonderful addition at the close is a very heartfelt symbol to say goodbye. This symbol can also be an event rarely seen such as a lantern or butterfly release at the end of a memorial service. My main request is, that in whatever is chose, please only use biodegradable products. 

You can also employ a physical “takeaway”. It can be something as simple as a ribbon to wear in memory, one of those rubber imprinted bands, or a packet of seeds. There is also a Middle Eastern practice of a torn piece of cloth pinned upon the lapel symbolizing the rending of garments representing one’s hurting heart.