In many faiths, the idea of including a memorial prayer during the funeral service or even at the grave site is traditional. While some traditions have specific words that must be used, others allow more room for the development of prayers that help to say something specific about the recently deceased. If you are in charge of planning the order for an upcoming funeral service, here are some suggestions on what to include in the memorial prayer.
Opting for Scripture Passages
One way to formulate the prayer is to rely on the writings accepted as scripture by the faith that the deceased espoused. Talk with loved ones and identify passages that had special meaning for the individual. In many cases, the words will fit neatly into a prayer by doing nothing more than adding a few preparatory remarks in front and then some sort of closing blessing at the end.
Honoring the Life of the Deceased
Another approach is to formulate a prayer that focuses on the roles that the deceased filled over the years. Reminding those assembled of roles such as parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or best friend can be powerful. Including a reference to some event that most of those present will remember is also a nice touch. In this sense, the memorial prayer also serves as a testimonial to the life of the person who is now gone.
A Favorite Poem
Many people draw strength from the use of poetry. If the deceased was fond of a certain poet or perhaps was in the habit of reading a specific poem regularly, what could possibly make a better memorial? Sharing words that resonated with the deceased during life will in a way help mourners feel as if there is at least a little of the deceased still with them every time they hear those words.
Drawing on the Hobbies and Interests of the Deceased
There is no rule that says the subject matter for the prayer has to be completely serious. In fact, some people hate the idea of funerals and memorial services simply because they would rather their loved ones laugh instead of cry. If this is the case, think about adding some tasteful levity to the service by drafting a prayer focusing on the things that the departed loved to do.
There are plenty of good memories to tap into if the deceased loved a certain sport, enjoyed knitting or crocheting gifts for loved ones, or was always the one to sit down at the piano and get the party rolling. Calling attention to those things during the prayer will go a long way toward ensuring those assembled do have a chance to smile and remember the things that gave the deceased joy.
Remember that the only wrong way to formulate the memorial prayer is to use words that the deceased would find inappropriate. Choose wisely and everyone present will appreciate what is said. Take it one step further and have memorial cards printed that everyone can take with them at the end of the service. Doing so provides something they can hold onto as they grieve in the months to come.