A reading, whether it be from film, literature, or music, at your loved one’s funeral can be a wonderful idea. The gesture not only shows how you feel about your loved one but also how their loss has touched you.

However, choosing one or two readings to represent and celebrate an entire life can be a difficult and overwhelming task at a time of great emotion. The following tips are intended to make the choice clearer and simpler.

List the things they loved

You may naturally want your loved one’s funeral to reflect who they were, and the things they loved are a huge part of that. Make a list of their favourite media: song lyrics, classic novels, comic books, plays, poems, films, radio shows—whatever excited them. You can then choose a passage that seems to reflect their personality, that was their favourite, or that expresses the way you feel about them.

You also don’t have to worry about whether the reading is conventional, as people who loved your loved one will understand. For example, you might use lines from a poem such as “Bilbo’s Last Song’ for a lover of Lord of the Rings, or ‘Eulogy from a Physicist’ for someone who was fascinated by science.

As long as your choice is age-appropriate for everyone in attendance, and not offensive, there is no wrong choice, as long as it is something your loved one would have liked.

Ask their family and friends for ideas

One of the things you will learn when a loved one passes is that everybody had different memories of them and that they meant something different to each person. Therefore, if you’re stuck for inspiration when you try to choose a reading, or just want a different perspective, you can ask your loved one’s friends and family members for ideas.

They might remember something different: a Bible reading he went to in times of difficulty, a poem that she loved, a story that they read to their children, a book that meant a lot to them at some point of their life. They might also have different perspectives based on their relationship to your loved one—siblings, cousins, old school friends, and coworkers will all have unique ideas.

Think about your own feelings

Sometimes, you want a funeral reading that puts your own feelings into words, rather than something that reflects the personality of your loved one—especially if you plan to have more than one reading. As the Center for Loss explains, there are many valid feelings around loss and grief, from shock to yearning to fear.

Search through poetry that you like, listen to a wide range of music, revisit your favourite novels, search online for passages and quotes about grief, and you are sure to find something that speaks to you. Before you make a choice, make sure that you will express those very personal feelings in front of your loved ones, and don’t forget that you can ask your funeral celebrant to read the passage if you are too nervous.

If you follow the tips above, you can ensure that your choice is truly reflective of your loved one and will help you discharge some of your own feelings about their loss. If you think carefully about what your loved one enjoyed, ask their family and friends to help make a choice, and analyse your own feelings, there is no wrong choice to be made.

If you need help to plan a funeral and choose any aspect of the service, Cremations Only offer a range of packages to help you make your loved one’s funeral the memorial you want it to be.