More than 500 people gathered in Southwark Cathedral on Monday at a memorial service for three members of Lord Attenborough's family killed in the Asian tsunami.
The film director, 81, read the poem She Is Gone but broke down in tears before he could finish it.
His 14-year-old granddaughter Lucy Holland, his daughter and her mother-in-law, both called Jane Holland, died in Phuket, Thailand.
The service was led by the cathedral's Sub Dean, Canon Andrew Nunn, who said the Attenboroughs' grief had become a symbol for those affected by the tsunami.
"Members of your family have names and faces known to many. Your tragedy became one shared by many in this country.
"Your pain became the pain of many," he said.
The choir from The King's School, Canterbury, where Lucy was a pupil, sang at the service.