End of Life Celebration

Some thoughts and example to help you start to put together a beautiful end-of-life celebration for your loved one.

Opening Statements

The opening statements at a funeral service are a way of thanking your family and friends for coming while expressing your thoughts of your loved one as well as how you want the funeral service to look and feel. Below are some examples, but please don’t think you have to choose one of them, you must feel comfortable with how you say goodbye, so I will work with you to get the every word just right.

1: The first step towards healing is acknowledging that a death has taken place. [Joseph Johnstone] has died, and his death is affecting you all in your own unique way. Know that this ceremony is an opportunity for you all to start healing at your own pace; to hear and share stories of [Joe],to listen to music and remember a life lived. It’s important to remember that while [Joe’s] physical body is no longer with us, his legacy and the memories you each hold in your hearts will live on forever.

2: I would like to begin by acknowledging the(insert name of people here  e.g. Ngunnawal) people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

3: Greetings, and thank you all for coming today to say goodbye to (Joseph Johnstone) and support his family through this most difficult of times. We are here today to honour a very special person. As most of you know, (Joe) has been ill for several years. But no matter how much time you have had to prepare for this day, somehow it still never feels like the right time to say goodbye.

4: Welcome to the (Rose Chapel)today where we stand together to pay our last respects to(Joseph Johnstone). On behalf of the family, I would like to extend their appreciation to all of you who have come here today, whether that is here in person or viewing via the live stream, your support means a lot to the family who feel your support during this difficult time. As per (Joe’s) request, today will not be a traditional funeral. Instead, we will have a celebration of life in honour of the joy he brought to so many people.

5: Family and friends, I welcome you into this gathering which is made sacred with the spirit of love and friendship you bring to this gathering. On behalf of (Joseph Johnstones)’s family, I would like to say thank you so much, to all of you who have come to be with them today. Whether you are here in the chapel or attending from home via live streaming, welcome and thank you.

6: I would like to welcome you to this celebration of the life of (Joseph Johnstone) who has passed now and moved on to be with his beloved wife (Lillian). I am very honoured to be here today as we remember (Joe) and reflect on his life.

7: Ladies and gentlemen, family and friends, we gather here today to honour the memory of (Joseph Johnstone) a beloved soul who touched each and every life he came into contact with in countless ways.

8: Welcome everyone. As we come together in this sombre moment, our hearts are heavy with sorrow for the loss of a cherished father, friend and partner (Joseph Johnstone) whose absence leaves an irreplaceable void in everyone’s life.

9: On behalf of the family, I welcome you here today. We gather here to celebrate the remarkable life of (Joseph Johnstone). His journey on this earth may have come to an end, but the legacy he has left behind will forever illuminate a path before us.

10: Thank you all for being here today. My name is Michaela Macdonald and I am honoured to have been asked by (Joe’s) family to lead you all in today’s service for (Joseph Johnstone). In times of grief, we find solace in the bond we share as a community, today is just such an occasion where as a community of family and friends we are united by the memories and love held for (Joseph Johnstone). Together, we embrace the healing power of coming together as one.

11: Thank you everyone for being here today, whether that is in person or via the live stream. Before we get started, let’s take a moment to cherish the cherished memories we hold dear in our hearts. Moments of laughter, love and strength shared with (Joseph Johnstone), that will inevitably stand the test of time.

12: What a beautiful song, it certainly speaks to the memory of (Joseph Johnstone) who was a beacon of Hymn Song that shone brightly upon all those who knew him. Today we honour a life that exemplifies good and touched the lives of many. (NB: hymn song is term used for those who devoted their life to god, to being the best person they could for themselves, their family and their community. People referred to as a beacon of hymn song are said to be examples of the best way to live a life in a way that praises of god)

13: On behalf of (Mary and the children) I would like to thank you all for being here today to show your love and support for them. In this very difficult time of mourning, we acknowledge the pain and grief that envelopes us. Yet, we also recognise that it is through this very pain that we realise the depth of our love for (Joseph Johnstone) who is now at rest.

14: On behalf of the family, I would like to welcome you all here today. As we pay tribute to (Joseph Johnstone) we do not mourn his departure, but rather rejoice in the privilege of having known and loved such an extraordinary person.

15: Thank you all for being here today. In our shared grief, we come together, not only to mourn the loss of (Joseph Johnson) but also to find strength and support in each other. Together, we navigate the waves of grief, knowing we are never alone.

16: Welcome one and all. While today may seem like an end, the words of that beautiful song (name the song) by (name the artist), that you heard as you entered the chapel today allows us to recognise that today also marks the beginning of a new chapter in our memories. From today forward, each time you hear that song you will be transported to a memory, a time and place where (Joseph Johnstone)’s light will forever guide you.

17: On behalf of the family, I would like to thank you all for being here to support them through this, the saddest of days as they say their final farewell to (Joseph Johnstone), whose life was tragically cut short on (give date). In just his few short years on this planet, (Joseph) had such a major impact on everyone whose paths he crossed. We appreciate more than we can say that you’ve come to help his family through this difficult time. Today, we gather together to remember (Joseph) and the light he brought into our lives. Like me, I know you all will continue keeping him in your heart today and always.  

18: Welcome. We gather to remember the little things that have a special place in our heart. To remember those happy times when we laughed and those times when our hearts broke as one. For who could put a price on memories? We gather to share the pain, to comfort each other as we hurt without judgement. We gather to cry for the loss we feel. Allow yourself to cry, do not try to hide or avoid your tears, for tears are memories in motion. We gather to give the gift of grief , for grief is nature’s way of healing a broken heart.

My name is Michaela Macdonald and I am honoured to have been asked by the family to lead you in the celebration of life for (Joseph Johnstone). It is our hope that every part of this service will honour a life lived among us. I am sure you would like to join me in saying to his family that you and the loss you feel are in our thoughts, not just today but always.

19: Welcome everyone. My name is Michaela Macdonald and I am honoured to be the celebrant for our time together remembering (Joseph Johnstone). We come here today with full hearts and numb minds. There are no words to express the mixture of feelings that surrounds each person here. Sadness for ourselves because this amazing, courageous man is no longer here to show us how to deal with adversity everyday with a smile. Joy for (Joe), because his long life is now complete and there are other mountains out there for him to climb, goals to embrace, clouds to touch. Gratefulness that his life of inspiration was part of this earth for (63) years to guide, to teach and to love. We come to stand with (Joe)’s family to support them in their loss.

Lovely Funeral Endings

The Committal/Farewell is an opportunity for you to offer one last collective thought and message of love, gratitude and farewell to your loved one.  Below are some examples of wording and phrases that can be used.

1: It is an important day when we gather together to honour a life and mourn a death. Time stands still for just a moment as we stand here to acknowledge that someone has touched our lives, has left an imprint on our hearts and that our souls are eternally changed. (Joseph) may have left this life on (date) but his spirit and his living made a difference while he was here and it will continue to do so as long as each of you remember him in your hearts and carry the lessons of his life with you. You now are the representatives and the ambassadors of (Joe)’s legacy. As we have heard here today, he gave you all the wonderful gifts of kindness, graciousness, strength, acceptance and love. (Joe) showed you how to live with challenges and struggles and how to survive. While not every moment of his life was easy and not every memory etched in gold, (Joe) gave to each of you every inch of what he had to offer. As you leave here today, take those lessons from (Joe), be kind to yourself, be kind to each other, let go of resentment and live every minute of every day with love.

2: When an old monk was asked why he cared for the ancient graves and why he cleaned the stones to preserve the writings carved there. His reply was simple, “they still have their names. They will always have their names.”

3: May you go forward today with a small flickering of light in your soul. May the memories of your loved one begin to bring comfort rather than pain. May the words, touch and presence of others bring solace. And may you be blessed in your coming in and going out, grateful for a life lived and a legacy left behind. Go in peace.


4: Tenderly, lovingly and reverently we commit the spirit and body of (Joseph Johnstone) to a more peaceful place. We give thanks for your life and for your (number) years of love, friendship, and your memories. We now say farewell and may you rest in peace. Thank you for being you


5: (Joseph Johnstone) your life we honour. Your departure we accept. Your memory we cherish.

And although there is grief today as we say goodbye, there is gratitude for your life. We are truly grateful for the privilege of having shared life with you. But rest now at the end of your days. Rest in the hearts and minds of all those who love you. And so with love we shall leave you in peace. And with respect we bid you a fond farewell.

6: (Joseph Johnstone) may your love be reflected in all who knew you, and may you continue to live on through the lives of those you leave behind. Your legacy is the memory of a great name and a great example.
And so, into the freedom of wind and sunshine.
We let you go
Into the dance of the moon and planets
We let you go
Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the star maker
We let you go
And into the sadness and smiles of our memories
We let you go
Go safely, go with love in your heart, and may you forever be at peace.

7: (Joseph Johnstone) you are so dearly loved. You are in our hearts and our minds, and we’ll carry you with us as we move forward with our lives. Everything you have done is still done. Everyone you love is still loved. Everything we’ve learnt from you is still learnt. And so we will let you pass from this world for which you did so much. For which you continue to do. Because when we walk this earth, we walk it with you. You leave us with the strength and pride to do what is good and right. And your memory will guide us just as you did when you were at our side. For this we say thank you, and goodbye. Dearest [Wife, Mum, Nan, Cousin, Aunt etc] and loyal friend.

8: (Joseph Johnston) as we bid you farewell, we are thankful to have shared joy in the sun, shelter in the storms, and to have laughed in the same moment. We will treasure the memory of your words and works, your character and quality, and will be forever enriched for having known your face. And so your kind and generous nature we commit to our memories. Your love, humour and friendship we commit to our hearts. Your body we commit to its end with nature. Thank you for all that you were and all that you gave. Love and light to you on this your final journey.

9: (Joseph Johnstone) to everything there is a season and time to every purpose here on earth; a time to be born and a time to die. In sadness at her death but with appreciation of her life, we remember you (Joe) and acknowledge the significance and value you have brought to your lives. But now it’s time to say a final goodbye, committing your body to be cremated and thus committing your memory to our hearts for the rest of our days. In love we leave you in peace.  And with respect we bid you farewell.

10: We are coming to the end of today’s service for (Joseph Johnstone). And while there is sadness in our hearts as we say goodbye, but there is profound gratitude for the life that will never be forgotten. I will now read a few statements that speak to that place in our hearts and minds that (Joseph) will forever reside. If you feel you want to, after each state is read, you can join in the response “We will remember you”.
(Joseph) When we are weary and in need of strength or when we are lost and sick at heart
Response: We will remember you.
(Joseph) When we have a joy we crave to share or when we have decisions that are hard to make
Response: We will remember you.
(Joseph) At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, and at the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring. At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer and at the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn
Response: We will remember you.
(Joseph) As long as we live, you too will live for you are now a part of us,
Response:  as we remember you.
Thank you (Joseph) for all you were and all that you gave.
Love and light on this your final journey.

11: (Joseph Johnstone) go forth from this world knowing that you are loved beyond measure;
That you will be missed more than words can say; that you will be remembered and cherished, and that love will never end. We will hold you close within us, and there you will remain to be with us throughout our lives, until we meet again. And as we now hold your memory in our hearts and send you on your final journey. May you forever rest in peace with the certain knowledge that our love goes with you.

12: (Joseph Johnstone) what a wonderful life you lived and what an impact you have made on others. There’s no doubt today that at the end of your time here you’ve left behind so many hearts that are aching, you’ve left so many tears of and pains of grief, but my goodness, you’ve left behind so many warm memories and a beautiful legacy of love for your family and friends. And so, it’s with love and gratitude that we now commit all these fond memories to be locked away in our hearts as we gently yield your body to its end with nature. We celebrate you, we honour you, but most of all we pay tribute to that consistent love and sense of fun that you always shared so willingly with your family and the comradeship with your friends.  And we’re never going to forget you. In that certain knowledge may you rest in peace.

13: It is with such sadness we say goodbye to you (Joseph Johnstone) but we thank you so much for every little gift you have contributed to this life and to the lives of others.
We thank you for your strength of character, and for being the face of reassurance in times of difficulty. We thank you for your understanding, unwavering support, and your dedication and devotion to your family.
We thank you for your [presence, your perseverance, your determination to be the best you could be.]
We thank you for your [daft humour, your wonderful smile, and the times you made us laugh.]
We thank you for the [magic you wove into life, and for your level headed perspectives and optimism.]
And we thank you for your [charisma, for your love of laughter, and for being the perfect example of the true meaning and wealth in this life.]
But most of all we thank you for your love and for your friendship; for the time and effort you put into our lives, for your thoughts and deeds, your cuddles and care, and for your kind and humble heart.
We thank you [name] for everything you were and all that you gave, and may you now forever rest in peace with the certain knowledge that you were, are, and will always be, dearly loved and terribly missed.

14: (Joseph Johnstone) we thank you for your friendship and loyalty, for the good times and the difficulties that have provided the opportunity for change and transformation.
Thank you for the legacy you have left, for your creativity and inspiration, your guidance and your counsel.
Thank you for your care and dedication to humanity.
Thank you for the kindness and compassion you showed in times of great personal duress. Thank you for your smile and the magic you wove into the lives of those around you.
Thank you for being you. This community is a far richer place for your presence amongst us.
Our love is with you wherever you are.

15: (Joseph Johnstone) we honour your life and are blessed to have heard your laughter, seen your smile and felt your reassuring hand in ours.  Our lives are richer for having known you and having shared in the love you gave us and the love we felt for you.
You are no longer bound by this world, but a part of it.
No longer tied to one place or one time, but free.
And so we ask that you go now, with all our love, as tenderly and reverently we yield your body to be cremated. Earth to earth, Ashes to ashes, Dust to dust. We will always remember you Heart to heart

16: Sometimes there just aren’t the words to speak as no words are adequate.  Instead, we can harness our ability to feel and think and express in our own special ways, and so we’re going to say our goodbye’s to (Joseph Johnstone) by listening to a poignant song, and by honing in on your own individual emotions.  But we do say this (Joseph), thank you for the gift you have been to us. May you rest in peaceful sleep now, knowing that you will be forever loved, and terribly missed.  [Music plays]


17: Thank you (Joseph Johnstone) for being you.  May you now rest in peaceful sleep and know that wherever you are, our love goes with you.

18: We honour your journey through life, and we remember with gratitude your deep love for your children, family and friends. We are grateful that you have been a part of our lives but we now wish you well on the next part of your journey. May you travel safely, and know that our love goes with you.

19: (Joseph Johnstone) as we share this moment together, it is with love and unity that we acknowledge what you brought to each of the lives here today and therefore what is now missing in your physical absence. There can be no doubt that there have been many tears shed and many hearts broken, but we also know that an energy as beautiful and vibrant as yours cannot help but remain in the hearts of all those who love you and it will be this that drives us on, until the time comes for us to meet once more. Until that day (Joseph) your ability to shine in the darkest of moments shall continue to light our way, as we laugh, love and live with every ounce of our being in your memory. The energy of your life we promise to embrace as we simply say thank you and farewell.

Quotes & Poems To End The Service

1: Maya Angelou once wrote. ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

2: A.A. Milne wrote, ‘If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.’

3: Unknown poet wrote: The cares of the world concern me no longer.
I have completed this life.
My work is done, the children of my heart grown.
My family is well on their journey and happy and healthy in their pursuits. . .
I have loved much and well
To those I leave behind, .
I hope I will remain in their hearts as they will in mine. . .
Thank you for taking such good care of me
And all of you who have been my friends, thank for teaching me about life and about love.
Go in peace and in blessings for the days ahead