Life like a candle


"....and it seems to me, you lived your life, like a candle in the wind" sang Elton John as 2.5 billion people watched the funeral service of Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, on the 6th September 1997. Such a beautiful song, which forever, in my mind anyway, takes me back to when I sat and watched the live broadcast of that royal funeral.

It is very common in todays funeral services, certainly where I work, to have candle lighting as part of the service. At the front of the venue, just off to the side of the coffin, will be a small round sand tray with a new white candle placed in the middle of it. At the appropriate time I will read the following (or something similar):

 Words are hard to find… the right words are even harder to find. That’s one of the reasons why I love the candle lighting section of a service as words are not required. We simply pause, remember, and light a candle reflecting the light Steve brought into the world.

Using the power of symbolic expression we are about to light candles of remembrance. As you light each candle you do so in memory of Steve and as a way to honour the immovable and wonderful memories each carries of him. As each candle is lit, may the flames also be a light of hope for the future.

We will now be playing a song that was loved by Steve and as we do so, I would invite all of you who would like to come forward and light a candle in his honour to please follow the family in doing so.

I have used candle lighting in services with 5 people in attendance right up to funeral services with 500 people (we use several trays). I watch as people pause and light a candle, some people ask for more than one candle as their partner may not have been able to attend the service, or, in many cases, to remember another loved one who had passed away.

The candles flicker and look beautiful. Some burn right to the bottom of the wax while others burn-out far earlier.

Life can be a lot like these candles. Most of us think we have the whole candle to live our lives…somehow we think we have ‘all the time in the world’ and yet, just like the candles, our lives can end far sooner than expected or hoped for.

The candles give light, each candle adds to the other and creates greater light with more intensity. So to are our lives as we live alongside others, our friends, our family, colleagues and even strangers. Each of us bring our own unique brightness to the world and I trust that each of our contributions helps make this a great place.

And it seems to me you lived your life

Like a candle in the wind

Never knowing who to cling to

When the rain set in

And I would have liked to have known you

But I was just a kid

Your candle burned out long before

Your legend ever did


By Steve Morrison