Funeral homily stories

Homage to our dead

We do best when we live our lives most fully

"We do best homage to our dead when we live our lives most fully, even in the shadow of our loss. For each of our lives is worth the life of the whole world; in each one is the breath of the ultimate one."

The blessing of memory

Those who live no more echo within our thoughts and words

"The Blessing of memory: It is hard to sing of oneness when our world is not complete, when those who once brought wholeness to our life have gone, and naught but memory can fill the emptiness their passing leaves behind.

The good listener

A wise mother

In the past few years I've been to more funerals than I care to count as my parents' generation crosses the threshold into all that is unseen. One theme that runs constant at the funerals for mothers is "Mom was a good listener."

Simple gestures take the lead

The impact of a life

My father, who most everyone knew as Big John—a name that said as much about his hearty personality as it did about his large frame—did not leave this world without a grand sendoff.

No one left behind

“We shall be reunited”

The widow of one of my best friends calls regularly to tell me how much she misses him, and inevitably she will break down in tears. After more than two years nothing is more important to her than the assurance that she and her husband will one day be together in heaven.

Christian mysteries

To rejoice and mourn

In T.S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral, the archbishop, Thomas Becket, preaches on Christmas morning: ". . . . Beloved, as the World sees, this is to behave in a strange fashion."

Not just a movie star

Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve would have been content to be just a movie star. But it was his lot before he died to be a real Superman both on the screen and off.

Limit his golf game to nine holes

Bing Crosby

When Bing Crosby's doctor recommended that the aging crooner limit his golf game to nine holes, he promptly went out and played 18.

Celebrating those heroic souls

General George Patton

General George Patton was fond of telling his troops that "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country" but "by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his."

We didn't lose the game

Coach Vince Lombardi

"We didn't lose the game," Coach Vince Lombardi once said. "We just ran out of time."

I have not failed

Thomas Edison

"I have not failed," Thomas Edison said at the end of his life. "I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Ready to meet his Maker

Sir Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Churchill remarked upon drawing near to death that he was ready to meet his Maker. "Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me," he went on, "is another matter."

The funniest person in the room

Comedian Del Close

When told he was about to die, comedian Del Close remarked, "Thank God. I'm tired of being the funniest person in the room."

Death can be sweet

Hermann Hesse

The German novelist Hermann Hesse wrote that "the call of death is a call of love. Death can be sweet if we answer it in the affirmative."

Renouncing Satan


On his deathbed, when a priest asked if he renounced Satan, Voltaire answered, "Now, now my good man, this is no time for making enemies."

Waking from a troubled dream

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote that we are greatly relieved upon waking from a troubled dream, and that perhaps it may be the same the moment after our death.

Death matters

C. S. Lewis

Upon the tragic death of his beloved wife, C. S. Lewis observed that he had little patience with those who claimed that death didn't matter.

The light of life goes out reluctantly

Charles II, the king of England

Just before Charles II, the kng of England, succumbed to a lengthy illness in 1685, he asked his subjects to forgive him for the long time he took to die.

Meeting death at home

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II was a champion of life and insisted that its sacred dignity be protected at every turn. But when he reached the end of his own life, he was wise enough to recognize that it was time to go.

Giving death a whirl

Henry Cosgrove

In the difficult months of Henry Cosgrove's fight with cancer, the doctors kept trying ever more heroic procedures. It eventually became apparent to Henry that the efforts to prolong his life were only prolonging his death.

Recalling, remembering, and reciting

Names of other family and friends

One death triggers memories of other deaths, particularly family members and close friends of the deceased and the survivors who have also died.

Last words

Of the dying King Arthur

This powerful piece of Victorian poetry from Idylls of the King, by Tennyson, captures the last words of the dying King Arthur. It recognizes change, faith, the power of prayer, and remembrance.