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Choosing a funeral poem

Finding the right words to say in commemoration of a loved one can be tough, especially when you have just experienced a bereavement. Like funeral songs, a well-chosen funeral poem can express the things that we often find difficult, providing comfort as well as serving as a touching reminder of a loved one.

Choosing the right funeral poem can be a difficult decision. If you have been asked to read a poem at a loved one’s funeral, you need to consider your audience and the way you would like them to feel whilst you are reading, as well as the personality of the deceased and the type of poem you think they would have wanted.

You should choose a poem that you find easy to read and will feel confident reading; you may choose a short funeral poem, a few verses from a longer poem or even a few lines from a song. Before the service, you should read through the funeral poem a few times to ensure you are prepared. Here are some suggestions for anyone wishing to choose a poem for their loved one’s funeral.

In this guide we provide suggestions for:

Popular funeral poems and verses
Short funeral poems
Happy funeral poems
Religious funeral poems
Song lyrics as funeral verses
Advice for writing your own funeral poem

 

Popular funeral poems and verses

The following poems are among the most popular for a funeral. This includes ‘She is Gone’ which was chosen as the Queen Mothers funeral poem. Some of the most popular funeral poems include:

- She Is Gone (He Is Gone)
- Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
- Funeral Blues
- Let Me Go
- Don’t Cry For Me

 

She Is Gone (He Is Gone) – David Harkins

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

 

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep – Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
(Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!)

 

Funeral Blues – W H Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

 

Let Me Go – Christina Rossetti

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little, but not for long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that once we shared
Miss me, but let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take
And each must go alone.
It's all part of the master plan
A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go to the friends we know.
Laugh at all the things we used to do
Miss me, but let me go.

 

Don’t Cry For Me – Anonymous

Don't cry for me now I have died, for I'm still here I'm by your side,
My body's gone but my soul is here, please don't shed another tear,
I am still here I'm all around, only my body lies in the ground.
I am the snowflake that kisses your nose,
I am the frost, that nips your toes.
I am the sun, bringing you light,
I am the star, shining so bright.
I am the rain, refreshing the earth,
I am the laughter, I am the mirth.
I am the bird, up in the sky,
I am the cloud, that's drifting by.
I am the thoughts, inside your head,
While I'm still there, I can't be dead.

 

Short funeral poems

If you are nervous speaking in front of a large group of people or are conscious about keeping the audience’s attention, you may wish to choose a short funeral poem. Sometimes just a few words and express a thousand emotions.

Here are a few short funeral poems:

- Love Shines Through
- As Long as Hearts Remember
- If I Should Go
- A Song Of Living

 

Love Shines Through – Anonymous

Like a shadow in the moonlight
Like the whisper of the seas
Like the echoes of a melody
Just beyond our reach
In the shadow of our sorrow
Past the whisper of goodbye
Love shines through eternity
A heartbeat from our eye

 

As Long As Hearts Remember – Anonymous

As long as hearts remember
As long as hearts still care
We do not part with those we love
They're with us everywhere

 

If I Should Go — Joyce Grenfell

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I'm gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So sing as well.

 

A Song of Living - Amelia Josephine Burr

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky.
I have run and leaped with the rain,
I have taken the wind to my breast.
My cheek like a drowsy child
to the face of the earth I have pressed.
Because I have loved life,
I shall have no sorrow to die.

 

Happy funeral poems

There are no rules that a funeral poem must be sad.

There are a number of humorous and happy funeral poems that can help celebrate the life of your loved one and comfort those left behind including:

- Afterglow
- A Long Cup of Tea
- Death
- Pardon Me For Not Getting Up

 

Afterglow — Helen Lowrie Marshall

I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun;
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.

 

A Long Cup of Tea – Michael Ashby

Death is too negative for me
So I'll be popping off for a long cup of tea
Do splash out on two bags in the pot
And for my god's sake keep the water hot
Please pick the biggest mug you can find
Size really does matter at this time
I'll pass on the lapsang with that souchong
And that stuff with bergamot
And stick with my favourite friend
You know the English breakfast blend
Breakfast! thanks for reminding me
There's just time before I fail
To stand on ceremony
Two rashers of best back, Should keep me
Smelling sweet up the smokestack
So, mother, put the kettle on for me
It's time, mother, for my long cup of tea

 

Death – Sean Hughes

I want to be cremated
I know how boring funerals can be
I want people to gather
meet new people
have a laugh, a dance, meet a loved one.
I want people to have free drink all night.
I want people to patch together, half truths.
I want people to contradict each other
I want them to say 'I didn't know him but cheers'
I want my parents there,
adding more pain to their life.
I want the Guardian to mis-sprint three lines about me
or to be mentioned on the news
Just before the 'parrot who loves Brookside' story.
I want to have my ashes scattered in a bar,
on the floor, mingle with sawdust,
a bar where beautiful trendy people
Will trample over me… again

 

Pardon Me For Not Getting Up - Anonymous

Oh dear, if you're reading this right now,
I must have given up the ghost.
I hope you can forgive me for being
Such a stiff and unwelcoming host.

Just talk amongst yourself my friends,
And share a toast or two.
For I am sure you will remember well
How I loved to drink with you.

Don't worry about mourning me,
I was never easy to offend.
Feel free to share a story at my expense
And we'll have a good laugh at the end.

 

Religious funeral poems

If your loved one was particularly religious, including a religious funeral poem may be particularly important in remembering their life.

You may wish to choose one of the following religious funeral poems and verses:

- Irish Blessing
- A Place Called Heaven
- God Saw You
- Another Leaf Has Fallen

 

Irish Blessing 

May the roads rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

 

A Place Called Heaven - Prayers for Special Help

I have a place that waits for me
A place I love, called Calvary
Where angels sing and rejoice all day
And children laugh, run and play.
Here the Masters holds my hand
As we walk through Heavens land.
This is the place Ive dreamed of for so long
So beautiful, so heavenly like the angels song.

 

God Saw You - Frances and Kathleen Coelho

God saw you getting tired,
When a cure was not to be.
So He wrapped his arms around you,
and whispered, "Come to me".
You didn't deserve what you went through,
So He gave you rest.
God's garden must be beautiful,
He only takes the best
And when I saw you sleeping,
So peaceful and free from pain
I could not wish you back
To suffer that again.

 

Another Leaf Has Fallen – Anonymous

Another leaf has fallen,
another soul has gone.
But still we have God’s promises,
in every robin’s song.
For he is in His heaven,
and though He takes away,
He always leaves to mortals,
the bright sun’s kindly ray.
He leaves the fragrant blossoms,
and lovely forest, green.
And gives us new found comfort,
when we on Him will lean.

 

Song lyrics as funeral verses

If your loved one had a special place in their heart for music, a reading from one of their favourite songs, or a song with particularly meaningful lyrics, can be a lovely way to pay tribute to them.

Lyrics from the songs below make a great alternative to a traditional poem or verse for a funeral:

- You’ll Never Walk Alone
- You’re My Best Friend
- In My Life

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry and The Pacemakers

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone

 

You’re My Best Friend – Don Williams

You placed gold on my finger
You brought love like I've never known
You gave life to our children
and to me a reason to go on
You're my bread when I'm hungry
You're my shelter from troubled winds
You're my anchor in life's ocean
but most of all
You're my best friend
When I need hope and inspiration
You're always strong when I'm tired and weak
I could search this whole world over
You'll still be everything that I need

 

In My Life – The Beatles

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more

 

Writing your own funeral poem

If you’ve been asked to read a poem at a funeral but cannot find a one that expresses the way you feel, you could write you own funeral poem.

Writing your own funeral poem means you can make it as personal as you like; you can include memories of your loved one, their personality traits, their habits and anything else than comes to mind when you think of your loved one.

Everyone will approach writing poetry differently - when you begin writing your poem, do not worry too much about the form and structure, just focus on getting your ideas on paper.  A good place to start is to think about the message or the theme you would like to communicate. Is it a message of love and life, grief and loss or even the afterlife? Have a think about how you would like people to react to your poem. The message will affect this.

Once you have got your ideas down, it is easier to think about the structure of your poem. Are you happy with how your poem reads? Have you used a rhyme scheme? Read other funeral poems, such as those we’ve listed above, to find out what you like and don’t like, then try and adapt your poem to that style.

If you are struggling for ideas on how to structure your poem, the easiest option is to write in rhyming couplets. This is where the last word of every two lines rhymes, before moving to a different rhyme for the next two lines. 

  

If you are planning a funeral for your loved one, you may find our guidance and advice area helpful. We provide advice on choosing a funeral song, how to write an order of service and even how to arrange a memorial service.

For help arranging a funeral for your loved one, contact us today.

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