Friday 24 April 2015

A Poem Fit for a Ceremony | Readings for Weddings, Commitment and Renewal of Vows Ceremonies

I bought a book of suggested wedding poetry recently. Of course these are relevant for commitment and renewal of vows ceremonies also. It contains some of my favourites but not all of them. Here are a couple of examples of poems I particularly like that feel appropriate for this kind of occasion:

I Would Live in Your Love by Sara Teasdale

I would live in your love as the sea-grasses live in the sea,
Borne up by each wave as it passes, drawn down by each wave that recedes;
I would empty my soul of the dreams that have gathered in me,
I would beat with your heart as it beats, I would follow your soul as it leads.

A Birthday by Christina Rossetti

 My heart is like a singing bird
                  Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
                  Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
                  That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
                  Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
                  Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
                  And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
                  In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
                  Is come, my love is come to me.

I also really love: 

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in) by E. E. Cummings which although popular at weddings and similar ceremonies, is I think, also appropriate for a funeral or memorial ceremony.

Vow by Roger McGough

Vow by Clare Shaw

Unlike my fist two examples these latter choices are still in copyright which means I am unable to publish these without permission. If you chose Arwenack Celebrants to prepare and facilitate your ceremony we will provide you with a Ceremony Transcript following your special day. If any of your chosen poems and readings need copyright permission we will obtain this. To look for your own favourite poems or perhaps find some new ones try:

Penguin’s Poems for Weddings Selected by Laura Barber (2014)


If you can’t find anything that you like you can write your own or ask a friend or family member to write one for you. My friend Thom wrote and read a poem for the wedding of one of his friend’s recently. This is how it begins:

Love is made of stuff.
Happy stuff.
Silly stuff.
Cute stuff.
Awwww stuff.
Angry stuff.
And compromising.

It starts with one person, and ends up with two,
And they do this thing where they gather everyone they know,
Well, everyone they like,
And they put them all in one room,
Dressed in best,
To witness them shouting out loud,
‘We are in love!’

There is standing; there is sitting,
And then there is CAKE!. . .

From And then there is cake . . . by T. S. E. Boulton. See Thom’s website for the full version and other examples

Purple Ronnie is another great source. There are several books for sale but also some free poems available via Google or Pinternet. Just a couple of examples follow: 

Saturday 11 April 2015

Bereavement and Grief (3) | More Swimming

Like many other adults I enjoy the wit and humour that often appears in ‘children’s films’. Finding Nemo is a particular favourite of mine; so much so that close friends regularly buy me FN related gifts. Here is just a small selection of my collection. 

The broach was made for me especially by my friend Ali (Alison Bendall Jewellery

For those of you who sadly don’t know the story as yet here is a synopsis:

Nemo is a young clown fish who lives on the Great Barrier Reef. He is the only son of Marlin, an anxious father who constantly warns Nemo of the ocean’s many dangers. Following an act of rebellion Nemo is caught in a net by a dentist who dives for a hobby and ends up in a fish tank in his surgery, overlooking Sydney Harbour. Marlin sets out to find Nemo and shortly into his journey he meets a female blue tang called Dory who suffers from short-term memory loss. She can read though and after memorising, as best she can, the dentist’s name and address on his discarded face mask she travels with Marlin and the two have many adventures - including encounters with sharks, turtles, angler fish and a whale - along the way. In the meantime Nemo and his fish tank companions attempt a number of escapes from the tank to the harbour. All’s well that ends well and despite innumerable problems father and son are reunited, with much help from Dory and others that they meet. Nemo, Marlin and Dory return to the Reef where Marlin attempts to mute his parental protectiveness. 

I first saw the film on a work trip to Australia in a hotel room in Sydney (honestly).

When encouraging Marlin to carry on in his quest to find Nemo Dory, the hero of the tale as far as I’m concerned, entreats him to ‘just keep swimming’. It isn’t just my love of swimming and the benefit I get from it that draws me to Dory’s advice but also the implication that to keep swimming, to keep going, is beneficial, for me at least, (see my reference to ‘occupation’ in my last Blog entry). I am aware that just keep swimming could be perceived to be and/or experienced as a platitude, so I could be accused of contradicting my recent arguments here. And yet to me Dory’s words feel more like a metaphor; more than a metaphor, as I swim my way to emotional and physical wellbeing. More evidence I guess of how grief is a unique experience for all of us.. . .


If like me you can’t wait for the long awaited sequel Finding Dory watch this trailer by Ellen DeGeneres (the voice of Dory). 

Sunday 5 April 2015

Bereavement and Grief (2) | Platitudes, Metaphors and Swimming

As I suggested in my most previous Blog entry platitudes following bereavement are often unhelpful but metaphors (figures of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action which is not literally applicable) are useful for some people. I have heard grief described as being like a punch in the stomach or a series of waves washing over a person. I can relate to each of these examples. Recently I read an account by a woman who described her own experience of grief as riding a wave. This makes sense to me too although I can’t imagine ever being able to stay upright on a surfboard, and I’ve tried body boarding and I’m pretty useless at it, so it’s not appropriate for me in the way it clearly is for her. For me grief is like walking up a steep hill, it is hard going and the pinnacle seems far way: the walk is tough. Sometimes you slip back, sometimes you need to rest, sometimes you are not sure you’ll make it to the top, sometimes you feel sure you will; eventually. This works for me but it might not for others.

Although I’m no surfer I do like to swim (I swim for at least an hour, often longer, four or five times a week googling to find a pool when I am away from home) and swimming, alongside other physical exercise (as a non-driver I walk a lot and a little later in life than some I’ve discovered that I enjoy Spinning (a gym-based cycling class that takes place to music) and BodyPump (a weight based class, again with musical accompaniment)), has also helped me emotionally and psychologically, as well as physically. I am not the only one, as these two articles - Sweating Out the Sadness: can exercise help you to grieve?
and Sweating Out Sadness: How Exercise Can Help the Grieving Process - demonstrate.

The author of the second piece reports that exercise not only helps the body it also helps the mind; the focus needed leads to a sense of control and exercisers report that they feel less anxious and sleep better. Exercise increases circulation and blood flow throughout the body and improvements to the immune system mean the individual has a better chance of fighting an illness before it spreads. For many there is a reduction in the aches and pains, loss of appetite, headaches, fatigue and so on often experienced during the grieving process. My own experience of bereavement brought home to me the impact that such loss can have on one’s body as soon after I suffered from a number of (ill)heath conditions. This takes me back to swimming (more of this next time) although of course swimming (and other exercise) is only one form of occupation that the bereaved might find both challenging and helpful. As Steve Hoppes’ (2005) experience suggests occupations (using the term broadly and not merely in relation to paid work) may lose meaning when one is grieving but paradoxically occupation can help in regaining meaning in life and in general health and wellbeing. I agree. 

Hoppes, Steve (2005) ‘When a child dies the world should stop spinning: an autoethnography exploring the impact of family loss on occupation’ American Journal of Occupational Therapy 59(1):78-87.