Annual Service of Remembrance – Aged Care

It is difficult to find liturgical resources to use in mixed-faith settings for services of remembrance. Below is an example of a remembrance day service used in an aged care context that gently directs people to Christ while relying on God’s word.

Kirsty Brown


Acknowledgement of country

Recognising the sovereignty of the one Creator, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who made all peoples in his own image,  we acknowledge the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung People of the Kulin Nations who are the Traditional Custodians of this land upon which we meet. We give thanks for the Elders of these Nations and pray for blessings on their descendants.


Welcome, introduction and opening prayer

  • Especially remembering this afternoon our former residents who died in the last year: we miss those residents and we also miss you, their families
  • First re-visits for some people
  • If you haven’t done so already, you can place a photo or something you remember your loved one by on the table
  • There will be an opportunity for you to take part in an act of remembrance
  • Please make sure you have picked up a tealight and a flower and a pen – you might like to write the name of your loved one on the flower and any thoughts or prayers inside it and then fold the petals inwards

We gather today because each of us has experienced the death of a person we loved. We each feel a range of emotions. One moment we think of them and we feel deep sorrow and brokenness. Another we catch a glimpse of a fond memory and our hearts feel the warmth and joy of our love for them. 

Despite each of us arriving from a diverse range of experiences and narratives, today we share in common the raw ache of absence. 

Many traditions believe that our loved ones have joined in the great cloud of witnesses, stretching into the past and into the future.

Each life we remember today was unique. The gifts and graces we received through those precious lives now travel with us on our journey.

And so today we come together to support each other; remembering our loved ones who have died.

God, as we come to remember those who have died in the past year from this home,

Our hearts are filled with sadness and joy.

Joy as we remember the friendships we shared, 

Sadness as the memory reawakens the pain of separation.

Even the glimpse of a photograph, or a mention of a name or a special event

Stirs these emotions within us.

Encourage us, support us, that our faith may be increased and our hope sustained,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Turn the electric candle on.

This candle is a symbol of light for our journey and life for our world. 

Light of the world,

Enter into the depths of our lives

Come into the dark and hidden places.

Walk in the storehouse of our memories.

Hear the hidden secrets of the past.

Plumb the very depths of our being.

Be present through the silent hours,

And bring us safely to life-giving light.

Amen.1


Readings

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


Reflection

In Christopher Bullock’s play “The Cobbler of Preston”, written in 1716, he says “’tis impossible to be sure of any thing but death and taxes”. Now, we may like to try and get out of paying our taxes, but we can’t really escape death!

Given the certainty of death, it’s surprising that we don’t talk about it more. Different cultures have less or more emphasis on death, but here in Melbourne, it’s not a regular topic of conversation. We prefer not to think about it and so we’re not really prepared for how to handle things when a loved one dies or as we approach our own death.

Grief can be complex as we work through the rollercoaster of emotions, considering good memories, regrets, and loss of companionship. We turn to make an observation and realise the person we’re about to talk to isn’t sitting beside us or won’t answer their phone. We spend our first Christmas where the family doesn’t seem quite complete. We have to alter our thinking as we plan for the future as our loved one isn’t part of those plans anymore. It takes energy to adjust to these changes and often the things that spark our emotion take us by surprise. Some days we do well, and other days just seem hard. And one day we’ll realise that we just laughed and it didn’t feel bitter sweet.

Our reading from Ecclesiastes indicates that there is a rhythm to life. It brings to mind an image of planting spring bulbs, with those beautiful flowers emerging in spring, our desire to cut them and bring them inside to enjoy, brightening up our day, before the remnants disappear into the earth, seemingly dead.

In this time of covid, we can identify all too well with the ‘time to embrace and time to refrain from embracing’! And often we don’t quite get right the balance between a ‘time to speak and a time to remain silent’. But in this rhythm of life, it is reassuring to see that whilst there is a time to dance, there is also a time to mourn. It is ok to acknowledge our season of grief. 

But each thing that we do, like being here today, is another step towards learning to live with our grief. Grief is not something you ever get over, it will never go away. But over time, the pain of our grief, whether arising from a simple or complicated relationship with the person who has died, becomes something that we can live with. By talking with others, sharing memories, drawing on our beliefs, allowing others to help us, seeking professional help where needed, we continue on this road towards acceptance. 

As our other reading reminded us, God is a God of compassion and comfort. He understands our suffering and is the source of all comfort. And he created us to live in relationship and connection with others: we don’t live our lives in isolation, much as we may have felt we do in this past year. We can gain comfort from those who have experienced grief before us, and from those who share in our current grief. And because of our shared experiences of this suffering, we too will be able to comfort others. We will be able to speak their language as they experience the sorrow of parting with those they have loved. 

As we spend this time reflecting today, we do so with each other, supporting each other in our shared season of grief, and seeking God’s comfort in this rhythm of life. Amen.


Act of remembrance

We call to mind those who loved you, and whom you and we loved and see no more. 

Each person we remember today was unique, created and blessed with life on this earth. Our names are a vital part of our identity, a window into our very being. It is therefore important that we acknowledge each person by name. We remember each life and the memories that remain with us on our journey.

As the name of your loved one is read, you might like to come forward and place your flower and tealight on the water.

[list of names]


A litany of remembrance 2

Please join me in the response in bold.

In the rising of the sun and in its going down

we remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter

we remember them.

In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring

we remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of spring

we remember them.

In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn

we remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends

we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength

we remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart

we remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share

we remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live,

For they are part of us, as

we remember them.


Prayers

We thank you God, for those we remember today,

Those who we no longer see,

But whose memory lingers with us.

We pray that their good example may continue to encourage and guide us in our love.

We thank you for gifts of love

and for the privilege of walking with one another in sorrow.

We pray for their families and friends

Whose memories continue in sorrow and joy.

We thank you for all in caring roles, both here and elsewhere,

Who have cared for our loved ones,

For the care and compassion extended to residents and their families and friends.

Help us to show compassion for others, and to ourselves.

God of light, God of love,

In times of loneliness,

May the memories we treasure,

The love of family and friends,

And you our God, continue to comfort and sustain us,

Until that day when in your grace and mercy

We will join with all your saints in your eternal presence. Amen.


The Lord’s prayer

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be your name,

Your kingdom come,

You will be done

On earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

As we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours

Now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn: The King of love

The king of love my shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never;

I nothing lack if I am his

And he is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow

My ransomed soul he leadeth,

And where the verdant pastures grow,

With food celestial feedeth.

In death’s dark veil I fear no ill,

With thee, dear Lord, beside me,

Thy rod and staff my comfort still,

Thy cross before to guide me.

And so through all the length of days,

Thy goodness faileth never;

Good Shepherd may I sing thy praise

Within thy house forever.

Words: H W Baker 1868
Tune: Dominus Regit Me

Blessing 

The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face to shine upon you

And be gracious unto you;

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you,

And give you peace. 

Numbers 6:24-26

When you are ready, please join us for light refreshments in the courtyard.

Please also take a piece of rosemary in remembrance.


Acknowledgements:

Royal Melbourne Hospital Pastoral & Spiritual Care Department

Uniting AgeWell Chaplaincy Team

1 Celtic prayer by David Adam

2 Jewish Prayer, Life Prayers from Around the World, 1996