The following found-poem is made up of words entirely taken from words written on people’s headstones. It  isn’t intended to be some macabre or nihilistic exercise… but the opposite. What words of comfort or solace could we have said if there’d be time? What message of love?

Because of COVID we couldn’t be there when loved ones died. Because of COVID we couldn’t remember and gather together to celebrate lives well lived, grieve lives too short. Because of COVID we are hearing daily statistics of those who have died. They are a face to someone. They are family to someone. Almost 5 million dead so far… Worldwide it’s been over 5,000 people a day, every day for months.

What does it look like for you to recognise and acknowledge the presence of Death? Do you place flowers somewhere for remembrance? Float something out into the river water? Bury something under a loved plant in the backyard? Use water to cleanse your hands and head? Hold a series of ceremonies, dances and songs? Whatever rituals of grief you observe – take the time you need to reflect and grieve.

You might read these words and be comforted, be solaced, be loved now. Hear them deep in your soul, take them in and let them nourish you. For, although intended as words for those who are gone, they have something to say to those who remain.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will know the essence of life.

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Peace, perfect peace,
let your song be delicate,
the flowers can hear.
In God’s care.

In the midst of life we are in death.
Let not your heart be troubled
neither let it be afraid.
In God’s care,
not here but risen,
Love’s Tribute.

Always loved, always in our hearts.
Sadly missed.
Behind all shadows standeth God.
Some time, some day, we’ll understand.

So deeply loved, so deeply mourned,
till we meet again, at rest,
in heavenly love abiding.

Abide with me: fast falls the eventide
the darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Thy will be done always in our hearts.
Loved and always remembered.

All losses are restored and sorrows end
in God’s care.
Those we love don’t go away
they walk beside us every day
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.

Love lives on.