Memorial Service Readings

Michele Meleen
memorial service reading

Memorial service readings are tributes offered to loved ones to celebrate their lives, honor their memories, and recognize their achievements. If you're not feeling confident in your ability to write a speech, these printable samples can be used with minimal changes.

Celebratory Sample

To use any of the samples provided, click on the image of the speech that sounds right for your occasion. From there you can download and print for personal use. If you have any trouble with the samples, check out this helpful guide.

If you plan to read a speech at a Celebration of Life memorial service, this sample is the perfect start. The speech calls on those in attendance to remember the loved one for his achievements and use him as inspiration for their lives. To customize you'll need to change the name used in the example and add any specifics about your friend's personality if desired.

Funny Sample

If you or the deceased are known for a great sense of humor, a funny speech might be appropriate. Her Life Was Like a Box of Chocolates is a short speech inspired by the famous line from the movie Forrest Gump. Friends and family will have a laugh as you read off all the ways your friend was similar to the candies in those classic holiday chocolate boxes. To personalize the sample you'll need to change the name used as well as add specifics about your friend's personality.

Sentimental Speech

When you want a more serious tone, sentimental speeches are ideal. This type of speech is good for services taking place soon after a death. The atmosphere will be solemn and people will appreciate some sympathy. Insert your memories of time with your friend and change the name to use the example as your speech.

Sample Readings

In addition to the editable speeches above, there are more readings you can borrow to customize what you'll say at a memorial service.

  • Nothing Gold Can Stay - A short, classic poem by Robert Frost about how the beautiful things in nature never last forever.
  • Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep - This famous poem, by Mary Elizabeth Frye, provides comfort through a spiritual, yet nondenominational, view of death.
  • Psalm 23 - Also known as The Valley of the Shadow of Death reading from the New International Version of the Bible, this Psalm reminds listeners there is nothing to fear when God is by your side.
  • John 6:35-40 - This is a popular Bible verse about connecting with Jesus and God on one's final day.

Tips for Selecting a Reading

Red rose

Memorial service readings can be formal and pre-written or casual and spontaneous as inspired by the mood and atmosphere. If your loved one has recently passed, the attendees may still be mourning the loss. In this case, consider the memorial service a formal event. If a lot of time has passed since the death of your loved one, you may regard the evening as a celebration rather than a somber affair. Be sensitive to the needs of your attendees, and aim to capture the spirit of the one you are remembering using their personality, religious beliefs and lifestyle as a guide.

  • The first and most important step when choosing the materials you plan to read is to follow the wishes of the deceased. If your loved one has selected a poem or scripture, use that in conjunction with a corresponding introduction and closing.
  • A lengthy reading is not required. In this case, it's better to be brief. Reserve time for guests to share memories, music, and leave a few moments for silent reflection.
  • Your introduction often sets the tone for the service, so choose your words carefully.
  • Offer a prayer or kind word for those in attendance, acknowledging their grief and expressing your gratitude.

In addition, you might choose to appoint a eulogist to present the reading. If the service is religious, choose a priest or other clergy. If you choose to open the floor to guests, allowing them to share memories or prayers, allot a limited period in which to speak to avoid a lengthy service. Generally, a memorial service runs for approximately one hour.

Words to Remember

A memorial reading captures the spirit of the deceased and sums up the general sentiments of what his life meant. These words carry on with friends and family long after a person's life. Choose or create a speech that pays tribute to the greatest aspects of the deceased's life.

Memorial Service Readings