Let’s Celebrate Life!

Well, hello!  I had intended blogging on a more regular basis than this but sometimes…well, life just happens.


Christmas time was not terribly festive for my Foxy family last year as my dearest Mum went on a steep decline and then passed away in early January. She was a very respectable 92 years old, always singing and dancing and became a bit of a social media sensation latterly with her songs to camera and views on life.


Mum had an amazing send off – two actually, one in the south and one in the north!  It was a real celebration of a long life well lived and of a lady who was truly loved by many.  As we are not religious, we chose to fill the service full of song, poetry and memories – many people said it was the best funeral they’d been to!


Obviously funerals come in many guises and are deeply personal.  It is easier to take a more celebratory approach perhaps when someone is lucky enough to have lived a long and healthy life.


When I set up Partner in Rhyme, I had envisaged that many of my customers would want poems for weddings and birthdays but I hadn’t really thought about funerals.  Now I find I am increasingly asked to write either a eulogy in rhyme or simply a very personal tribute to the deceased.  It’s a real honour to be able to help people to convey their feelings and their memories about someone at these times.  I find it’s the little things that people remember about others that are so moving and so incredibly personal.


Of course, poetry is often read at the time of someone passing – it is a comfort and it so eloquently summarises how we are feeling.  There are many beautiful and well known poems that are used at services – Remember by Christina Rosetti,  Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye, She is Gone by David Harkins and many more.


But sometimes people want something, in addition, that is specific to the person that they have lost and that’s where I can help.  While writing verse comes very easily to me, I do recognise that it is not the same for everyone especially at times where grief can cause a mental block.  I simply ask my customers to throw their thoughts down and get them to me and then the joy for me is in producing something fitting from a jumble of words and memories, something that brings the person to life in the minds of the audience.


If you are preparing to embark on a eulogy then remember that you are writing about a life and not a death.  Focus on the things that made that person who they were – what defined them in your eyes?  This is an opportunity to tell about their achievements in life, their background , their passions.  You can tell amusing anecdotes about their life and the times you have spent with them. For me, this is the most interesting part of a service and I often learn things about a person that I wished I’d known when they were alive – maybe there is a lesson in that for us all.


Writing a eulogy is huge honour, delivering it is the hard part when you are in a heightened state of emotion.  A rhyme can help here as it gives you something to focus on.  Once you start, you often find that you will get through it and often with a smile.  And if you don’t, it really doesn’t matter, you are at a funeral after all and you are not being judged on your presentation skills.


And finally I’m not planning to pop off any time soon (paws crossed!) but the poem that I would choose at my departure from this world?…….

It would have to be ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by the awesome Maya Angelou. Not only did my husband recite to to me when we first met but it’s such a strong, proud uplifting piece:


Phenomenal Woman


Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms,

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.


I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It’s the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I’m a woman



Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.


Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can’t touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them,

They say they still can’t see.

I say,

It’s in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.


Now you understand

Just why my head’s not bowed.

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing,

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

the palm of my hand,

The need for my care.

’Cause I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.