An Alternative Celebration of Life

Rev. Virginia Marie Rincon

Drumming or flute music


Opening the Circle with The Four Directions

(Officiant) My brothers and sisters, please stand if you are able as we open the circle of prayer with the four directions.

Spirit of the East we thank you for the rising sun and this new day and all that it brings. We thank you for the life of ____ and all he/she offered by their sacred presence in our lives. May light perpetual shine upon them eternally. Amen, Aho or Ometeotl

Spirit of the west, the place of the setting sun. We thank you spirits of the west for acknowledging that all comes to rest in due time. The west is a place of transformation and letting go, may we allow ourselves to embrace this cycle of life with peace.

Spirit of the North the place of our ancestors we call you forth to join us in the circle of family and friends acknowledging the life of _____. We ask for guidance in our grief and in our loss. May the memories of _____become sacred seeds in our hearts.

Spirit of the South the place of joy and childhood memories. Help us to remember those things which gave us joy in our knowing of our beloved. Let us remember to acknowledge gratitudes and that all is connected in this sacred circle of life.

Mother Earth we thank you for all you give us. In our acknowledgment of your offerings we are reminded that from dust we come and to dust we shall return. In this knowing we are mindful of Creator’s oneness in all things.


Welcoming remarks

(Officiant) Let us pray

O Creator of Grace and Glory, we remember before you this day our brother/sister. We thank you for giving her/him to us, his/her family and friends, to know and to love as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before us.


A song of choice or instrumental musical piece


First reading

A reading from the book of Ecclesiates Chapter 3 Verses 1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die:

A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

A time to break down and a time to build up;

A Time to weep and a time to laugh;

A time to morn and a time to dance;

a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven


I give you this one thought to keep

I am with you still-I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,

I am the sweet uplifting rush,

of quiet birds circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not think of me as gone-

I am with you still in each new dawn



Song, hymn or instrumental piece




Eagle Poem

by Joy Harjo

To pray you open your whole self

To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon

To one whole voice that is you.

And know there is more

That you can’t see, can’t hear;

Can’t know except in moments

Steadily growing, and in languages

That aren’t always sound but other

Circles of motion.

Like eagle that Sunday morning

Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky

In wind, swept our hearts clean

With sacred wings.

We see you, see ourselves and know

That we must take the utmost care

And kindness in all things.

Breathe in, knowing we are made of

All this, and breathe, knowing

We are truly blessed because we

Were born, and die soon within a

True circle of motion,

Like eagle rounding out the morning

Inside us.

We pray that it will be done

In beauty.

In beauty.


Sharing and reflections

(Usually three speakers are designated before the service begins, and then time is allowed for a few more.)


The Rose Ceremony

(Instructions to officiant or presider: there is water in a clear bowl in order to see and hold the rose petals. There is also a bowl of rose petals alongside the water. At the end of the service mourners are asked to come forward and take a rose petal and offer a silent prayer or a goodbye to the departed and put the rose petal in the water. The bowls can be in the middle of the circle or somewhere accessible but allowing for privacy. Once all the offerings are made, the officiant blesses the offerings of rose petals in the water. Then the water is offered to the land or unto the grave site as a sign of remembrance that we are one. This will be a part of the final blessing.)

Officiant: The Symbology of the Rose:

Since ancient times, roses have symbolized God at work in whatever situation they appear. The intricate and elegant rose offers a glimpse of a masterful Creator’s active presence in creation. As this popular flower blossoms, its buds gradually open to reveal blossoms with lovely layers — an illustration of how spiritual wisdom unfolds in people’s lives. The strong, sweet scent of a rose brings to mind the powerful sweetness of love, which is the essence of God. When the petals of a rose begin to fall it means that it has finished its 40 days time and has completed its entire cycle from being a small bud to be a full fledged flower. Beautiful things remind us that all is eternal and all gives what it is suppose to give in it’s life cycle.

Blessing of Rose Water

(Officiant) Water is symbolic of new life. It holds the mystery of constant creative movement, it moves without holding back the new and when we commune with water we are blessed by its possibilities. Water is a symbol of light and of our Creator’s life force within and around us. Let us bless this Rose water; In the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.


Procession of Goodbyes and Prayers

(Rose petals are placed in the rose water bowl by friends and family.)

A special song can be offered during the offering of rose petals into water.


Final Blessing

(Officiant) Creator we thank you for this sacred time together. May we know in our hearts that we are one and that our beloved brother/ sister is resting and has returned to mother earth. May he/she receive the rose petals of love, and may this water remind us that nothing grows without water and therefore, may our tears bring new life to our own spirit and to our dearly departed_____. Now let us walk the path of light, peace and harmony remembering that all things return to the earth in the appropriate time. May the song of birds accompany our beloved _______ and may tomorrow’s sunrise remind us that nothing is wasted in the web of life. Amen, Ometeotl or Aho.