What do you read at a funeral? Something secular, something religious?
My own close family’s history of ritual-less industrial incineration — a few words, a recorded organ, the coffin slipping behind a faded velvet curtain in the crematorium — offered little in the way of secular comfort.
A schooling paid for by singing psalms to empty cathedral stalls withered any religious belief. But buried in the bible are fragments of practical advice that have sustained human beings for a very long time.
So today, this is what I will read at my sister’s funeral, adapted from the King James Bible:
16 …[L]et teares fall downe ouer the dead, and begin to lament, as if thou hadst suffered great harme thy selfe: and then couer her body according to the custome, & neglect not her buriall.
17 Weepe bitterly, and make great moane, and vse lamentation, as shee is worthy, and that a day or two, lest thou be euill spoken of: and then comfort thy selfe for thy heauinesse.
18 For of heauinesse commeth death, and the heauinesse of the heart, breaketh strength.
19 In affliction also sorrow remaineth: and the life of the poore, is the curse of the heart.
20 Take no heauines to heart: driue it away, and remember the last end.
21 Forget it not, for there is no turning againe: thou shalt not doe her good, but hurt thy selfe.
22 Remember my iudgement: for thine also shall be so; yesterday for me, and to day for thee.
23 When the dead is at rest, let her remembrance rest, & be comforted for her, when her spirit is departed from her.
Grieve. Move on. Live again.
Easier in the acknowledgement than the adoption, but good, stoical advice.