Healing Ceremony Scripts

Candle Lighting or Paper Dove Ceremony

Program Description:

NOTE: This idea was adapted from LaRita Archibald’s healing ceremony.

Survivor Memory Book: As people come to the event, have them write down the name of the person they lost to suicide in a memory book. The list of names will be read at the end.

Music: Adds greatly to the emotion of the event. A simple acoustic ensemble is very moving – guitar, piano, flute. The music should be chosen with care. If the event is around the holidays consider: Silent Night, A Bleak Midwinter, or others.

We mourn the loss of our loved ones. For many of us, the darkness of our loss and sorrow has overshadowed our love of life, has held back happiness and has blinded us to the blessing of wonderful memories.

Light is the symbol of hope. Even the tiniest flame illuminates darkness. As our celebration candles glow let their radiance warm our grief-frozen beings and remind us of the wonder of love. Let us rejoice and celebrate the richness of a life and relationship shared.

Note: Other poems and responsive readings can be interspersed throughout the program, depending on the length desired.

Candle Lighting or Paper Dove:
For those that want to participate, each takes the candle(s) that represents their loss and places them on a mirror and lights them as the reader calls them forward. Or to simplify, just have all the candles be one color and have participants come up voluntarily to light them. Alternatively, participants can write the names of the deceased on paper cutout doves with holes cut out of the top and string threaded through (like an ornament). When the groups are called forward based on the nature of the loss below, the participants place the ornament on a tree of some sort in the ceremonial space.

In Memory of Mothers: (purple)
You gave me the gift of life and tenderly held and cared for me. You laughed and made good times within our home. Caregiver, teacher, the essence of love, is the memory I have of you. Mother, I celebrate your life.

In Memory of Fathers: (red)
You taught me that gentleness was not weakness and that strength was not power or force. Dad, I fill this void with memories of all you taught and meant to me and celebrate your life by sharing memories of you with others.

In Memory of Sons: (light blue)
I mourn the lost dreams of graduation, college, marriage, and grandchildren, carrying on the family name and your companionship as I grow old. I treasure memories of happy times shared and, always, my son, I celebrate your life.

In Memory of Daughters: (pink)
Part of my own life has died in your death, my sweet daughter. Gentleness and laughter and loving is you. I will carry to eternity cherished memory of our time together. I celebrate your life and the blessing of the love we shared.

In Memory of Brothers: (dark green)
My brother, my friend, your unbearable anguish that we couldn’t share is now left for me. I am thankful that as time passes I am able to focus on the good times and the camaraderie. I celebrate your life and the bond we shared.

In Memory of Sisters: (sage)
Dear sister, forgive me for not knowing that, for you, the future had lost its promise. I grieve for your unfulfilled dreams. I will cherish your memory always. I celebrate your life and the special friendship we shared.

In Memory of Husbands: (dark blue)
Our lives had become one and that part of me died when you, in your pain, left me. Dear, husband, I am grateful for the treasury of memories I have of you, of our love and our life together. I celebrate your life and I’m thankful for the blessing of sharing it.

In Memory of Wives: (lavender)
Companion, partner, sweetheart. Respect, trust and abiding love enriched our years together. Love is beyond the touch of death, my darling wife. I celebrate your life and our love for one another and will forever cherish your memory.

In Memory of All Other Family Members: (burgundy)
You were someone very special in my life. I ask forgiveness for the missed opportunities to make life more enjoyable for you. I cherish memories of you and celebrate your life and our relationship.

In Memory of Friends: (yellow)
You were the one with whom I shared my dreams, confided my fears and trusted my secrets. It’s painful accepting that I can no longer enjoy with you all the things that meant so much to us. I will always celebrate your life and friendship.

In Celebration of Their Lives:
The most beautiful and lasting tribute we can make to those we loved who have died is renewed focus on the future… a future nourished by our memories of them, by thanksgiving, by peace of mind and by the joy of ever-deepening relationships in our continuing lives.

Silent Reflection:
Let the participants sit in silence after the candles have been lit. Read the names from the survivor memory book slowly. As music plays, the participants can leave when they are ready.


Remembrance Ceremony

Darkness Transformed
The Light Goes On…

Sally Spencer-Thomas
Executive Director, Carson J Spencer Foundation

Room Set Up:

Table 6’ – skirted and draped in center of room
Several circular mirrors of different sizes on table
Three large white pillar candles lit on table
Smaller candles in glass votives displayed around table at different heights
Lights dimmed, soft music playing as people enter and gather around the table
Podium with pillar candle and flowers
People enter and receive program


  • Leader – Act of Remembrance is Sacred
  • Sometimes we forget because we’re busy or because it is too painful
  • Remembering can be selective – what to let go, what to retain
  • Part of the psychological and spiritual healing process
  • Grieving is a form on honoring them.

Responsive Reading:

We hold our loved ones in our hearts and remember them…

For the love they gave to us
We are grateful.

When we need comfort, guidance, humor or strength
We remember them.

For the good times they brought us.
We are grateful.

When we have celebrations in life we want to share.
We remember them.

For the good people who surround us, who know the reality of love and loss.
We are grateful.

For as long as we live and remember them, the light goes on.
May they be forever in light.


Ceremony of Light and Remembrance:

Music and Reflection – soft reading of names from book of remembrance

In a moment we will light candles of remembrance and honor those who have taken their lives. The candles will symbolically transform the darkness of this room to light. As you light your candle you can honor your loved one in the way that feels most comfortable to you. You can just think the person’s name, you can say the person’s name out loud, or you can say their name and one thing you are grateful for about what they brought to life.

Closing Poem

Hearing things more than beings,
listening to the voice of fire,
the voice of water.
Hearing in wind the weeping bushes,
sighs of our forefathers.

The dead are never gone:
they are in the shadows.
The dead are not in earth:
they’re in the rustling tree,
the groaning wood,
water that runs,
water that sleeps,
they’re in the hut, in the crowd,
the dead are not dead.

The dead are never gone,
they’re in the breast of a woman,
they’re in the crying child,
in the flaming firebrand.
The dead are not in earth:
they’re in the dying fire,
the weeping grasses,
whimpering rocks,
they’re in the forest, they’re in the house,
the dead are not dead.

     Birago Diop, Senegal

Our service of remembrance has come to a close. You may stay for reflection or sharing if you like.

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