Sample Memorials

A Memorial for Ryan McMurray

Memorial for Ryan McMurray

Good afternoon, everyone.

I’m honored to be the Secular Officiant for this remembrance of Ryan William McMurray.

Please check your cell phone to make sure it’s turned off, so that we will not be interrupted as we reflect on Ryan’s life.

On behalf of the McMurray family members I welcome you.

Thank you all for extending your love and support to Ryan’s family and to each other today.

In a few minutes we will ask family and friends to share some sentiments with us.

Ryan was born on February 17, 1992 in Chestnut Hill Hospital. According to his mother Amanda, Ryan was born with the most beautiful red hair in the world. She fondly recalls how strangers in stores would stop to comment about her beautiful red-haired boy. 

Ryan was not shy. He was a talkative baby and toddler. He was always smiling and always up to some type of mischief.

As he grew from toddlerhood, Ryan insisted that his red hair be grown into a long ponytail.

Finally, just before he went to kindergarten, Ryan let his mother cut his ponytail. She has the lock of hair to this day and cherishes the memory.

Growing up, Ryan always loved to play outside. One fond memory held by the family is when Ryan – at age 2 – managed to figure out to adventure beyond the fenced yard – all unbeknownst to the babysitter.

He took his dog Sally with him, but it wasn’t long before the police located the two wanders. Amanda still remembers how Ryan used the opportunity to just talk and talk to the police officer that brought him back safely to his home. His first run in with the law was a good one.

Ryan died on Thursday, April 26, 2018. He died at the young age of 26.

When an old person dies we may grieve, but we can accept more readily that a life has been lived and has drawn to an inevitable close. But when a young man dies, we mourn not only the life that was, but also the life that might have been.

It is right and natural that we should grieve, because sorrow is a reflection and measure of the love – the happiness – and the intimacy we shared with the one we love who is now gone. In a way too, we grieve for ourselves, because we know that our own lives will never be the same without Ryan.

Ryan was the beloved son of Christopher and Amanda. They want everyone to know that Ryan’s body was donated to scientific research.

In death, Ryan was able to give a gift of knowledge and possibly improving the human condition. In this way, the difficult decision Ryan’s parents made was generous and considerate, and they are sure Ryan would approve. 

The great English writer George Eliot said:

“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other.”

Ryan is survived by his sister, Charlett McMurray, his grandmother, Renee Charlett, and by extended family members in the United States, Ireland and England. Some extended family members are here today. Many of you know that Ryan was a regular body builder. Ryan amazed many people with his determination to stay fit. Ryan also loved to swim and could often be found at the Wissahickon Creek. There, he would be joined by his many friends. They enjoyed each other’s company and the lovely scenery that can be found at the Creek – more specifically, Devils Pool in Valley Green. His interest in swimming goes way back when the family joined a pool club. With his sister and close friends Julia and Jackson they would play in the water for hours and hours, spending summer days turning into little raisins from the water and sun. Ryan definitely liked being active and enjoyed playing football as well as lacrosse. Ryan had many close friends when he was young – such as Sara Park from kindergarten, Julia and Jackson who he met at Top of the Hill daycare, and Carl who befriended him at Springfield Elementary School and a friend to Ryan’s end.

Carl’s mother Candis also loved Ryan. She and Carl are like family and to this day Amanda and she are best friends. There are also many recent friends of Ryan here today. Ryan loved the natural world and his fellow human beings. We must remember that every human tragedy is an act of nature. Nature does not know good from bad.

Nature does not know right from wrong. In nature there are no rewards or punishments – there are only consequences. Death is as natural as life. Everything that has life will have a beginning and an end. Nature is what is permanent in this world and our world is now a much poorer place without Ryan.

He lived life fully, though his time was short and Ryan went through some tough times. At 16, Ryan went into the Adolescent Residential treatment center in Utah’s “Red Rock Canyon.” He was there for about 9 months and he did very well.

Ryan was an impressive leader there. It was reported that Ryan was helpful to make motivated other young adults become motivated and do well. His leadership earned group pods many enjoyable weekend trips. Ryan was loved by many there. It is a truly sad when you realize that addiction’s grip can take hold at any moment and Ryan did not escape the grasp of drugs.

He experienced some jail time and tried as hard as he could o fight his addiction – spending many years in rehab programs. Even with all the struggles, Ryan was a productive and talented person.

With his parents, Amanda and Chris, Ryan worked on fixing up apartments and houses. He was a very good fixer-upper and the family was able to spend quality time together as the worked to improve properties. I ask you now to remain silent for a moment or two, so you can each remember Ryan in your own way.

Those of you with religious faith may want to use these moments for your own private prayer.

(Pause for the playing of the song) 

Margaret: The song you just heard is Mr. Jones by Counting Crows.

Ryan and his sister Charlett played that song often because they both liked it so very much.

And now we will hear from Ryan’s Aunt, Finola McGlone. Finola is the sister of Chris – Ryan’s father.

Margaret: Thank you, Finola.

Now Marie Ashworth will say a few words.

Margaret: Thank you, Marie.

Now, Ryan’s friend, Carl, will say a few words.

Margaret: Thank you, Carl.

There is a saying that dates back to ancient times: “When you speak of me, I shall live again.”

I now invite anyone who desires to share a story about Ryan to step forward. Please don’t be shy. You are among friends and the family who would love to hear how Ryan touched your life. Please step up to share and bring Ryan to life with your words and memories. We can also bring a portable microphone to you if you prefer to stay where you are seated. (Hopefully, people will come forward, introduce themselves and say a few things, tell a story or express their sympathies.) 

Margaret: Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories of Ryan.

To best-memorialized Ryan, please remember the acts of kindness he performed, the way he laughed and cried, and

how he loved his family. As the great 19th Century writer Robert Green Ingersoll said, ‘The record of a generous life runs like a vine around the memory of our dead, and every sweet, unselfish act is now a perfumed flower.”

Ryan’s unselfish acts have touched every person in this room. Hold on to that memory as a celebration of his life. Adore the memory you have of him, for like a beautiful precious flower he bloomed only a short time to give the world a little bit of happiness in seeing him, touching him, and loving him. The family thanks you for attending today and encourages you all to live your passions, surround yourself with love, laugh often and remain involved with the world in which you live. 

As we end this ceremony, let us resolve to be more open to others, to make new friends and keep our longtime friends and family close to our hearts. This concludes our memorial, but the family invites you to join them for a casual reception in the upstairs hall. 

As you leave this room, we are so pleased to have a song sung by Ryan’s Great Uncle Brendan Quinn -- “Seasons in the Sun.”

My sympathies to all.