Darling by Jackie Kay


Funerals hold different purposes for different people; for me, I think it is important to think about how we console those present, as well as remember those who have passed away.

I love this as a queer funeral reading- it reads well for a partner and also for a sister or mother. It just lodges itself in your heart somehow, and Jackie Kay is a great writer for contemporary audiences, especially those looking for a queer, Glaswegian, radical voice.

With her roots in both Scotland and Nigeria, she once asked Audre Lorde how to embody all aspects of her identity. Lorde replied ‘It’s a strength! You can be both!’ Love that- a mantra for our times and one I can get behind as an independent celebrant! ‘Both, and’, not ‘either/or’.

Both poignant and uplifting, ‘Darling’ would sit well near the end of a ceremony.



You might forget the exact sound of her voice

Or how her face looked when sleeping.

You might forget the sound of her quiet weeping

Curled into the shape of a half moon,

When smaller than her self, she seemed already to be leaving

Before she left, when the blossom was on the trees

And the sun was out, and all seemed good in the world.

I held her hand and sang a song from when I was a girl –

Heil Ya Ho Boys, Let her go Boys

And when I stopped singing she had slipped away,

Already a slip of a girl again, skipping off,

Her heart light, her face almost smiling.

And what I didn’t know, or couldn’t see then,

Was that she hadn’t really gone.

The dead don’t go till you do, loved ones.

The dead are still here holding our hands.



Watch a reading of ‘Darling’ from Jackie Kay here.