Featuring a poem at a funeral, a memorial service, or a virtual funeral can be a meaningful and rich way to honor your person. It can convey the sentiments with which they lead their life, how important they are to you, and anchor your grief. Funeral poems can be read or included if you are struggling to put your own reflections into words, or as an accompaniment to stories and memories.
Poems for funerals or memorial services can vary widely from honoree to honoree. The poem you select can be a way to paint a portrait of their life and soul or it can be what you wish to say to them. There are poems to say goodbye at a funeral that speak to the weight of grief, as well as short funeral poems to bring a smile or laugh! Poems and prose for loved one’s funerals can be a source of comfort, laughter, and love, as well as complex and ambivalent emotions.
When creating this collection, we’ve tried to keep these poems for a funeral inclusive yet eclectic. If your community or loved ones have any particular spiritual or religious beliefs that you would like honored, such as Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, or Islam, you are welcome to pair these with a more religious text. The best ‘traditional’ funeral poems for your father or mother might be different than an uplifting funeral poem that speaks perfectly to your love for your lifelong friend.
In lieu of a poem, another option to read at the memorial service of a loved one, friend, or family member could be
- Song lyrics important to the honoree
- Sayings or favorite phrases
- A quote from a book or movie
There is no correct length for what you want to read, they can be as short as one to four lines, or as long as you would like them to be.
Grief cannot be ‘fixed’ and poems and words for funerals will never change a loss, but these words can be companions for you and your loved ones as you gather to pay your respects. By reading or including a poem at a funeral for a friend, family member, or community member you can honor their legacy and share what they meant to you and who they were.
Beautiful Poems for Funerals
- Funeral poems for an honoree who loved others deeply
- Funeral poems for an honoree who was an important cornerstone of their community/family
- Funeral poems for an honoree who is irreplaceable
- Funeral poems for an honoree who loved plants and the natural world
- Funeral poems for an honoree who always brought a smile
- Funeral poems for an honoree whose life had complications
- Funeral poems for an honoree who lived a long full life
- Lighthearted/Fun/Funny funeral poems
The opal lies in the river,
The pearl in the ocean’s breast:
Doubt in a grieving bosom,
And faith in a heart at rest.
Fireflies dance in the moon-light,
Peach-leaves dance in the wind;
Dreams and delicate fancies
Dance thro’ a poet’s mind.
Sweetness dwells in the beehive,
And lives in a maiden’s breath;
Joy in the eyes of children
And peace in the hands of Death.
————————–Death Is Nothing At All by Henry Scott-Holland
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
————————–The Life That I Have by Leo Marks
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.
So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and
Demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life,
Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and
Its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
Even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and
Bow to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and
For the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks,
The fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing,
For abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.
When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts
Are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes
They weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again
In a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
—————————–Even a wounded world by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Even a wounded world is feeding us.
Even a wounded world holds us, giving us
moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy
over despair. Not because I have my head
in the sand, but because joy
is what the Earth gives me
daily and I must return the gift.
—————————–Elegy IX (missing you) by Jason Schneiderman
I thought I’d find you here, that I’d finish these poems
and you would stand out as clear as the day. As bright
as the moon. I hate those poets who tell you that
they love, but never make clear who they love.
My mother’s eyes are nothing like the sun. How do I
miss my mother? Let me count the ways. So where
are you? I couldn’t believe you let yourself
be filmed for the video they showed at your tribute,
and I wanted to tell everyone, that’s only her voice
when she’s nervous, that’s only her face when she
has to be on display and she doesn’t like it. But at least
you were there. Everyone knows you can’t write
your way out of grief. Everyone knows that grief
never turns into anything but grief, and OK, I can grieve
you forever. But I wanted you here, in the middle
of my book. Not a complaint about what I lost
or what it feels like to lose it. But you. Your smile.
Your denim dress.
If you find yourself half naked
and barefoot in the frosty grass, hearing,
again, the earth’s great, sonorous moan that says
you are the air of the now and gone, that says
all you love will turn to dust,
and will meet you there, do not
raise your fist. Do not raise
your small voice against it. And do not
take cover. Instead, curl your toes
into the grass, watch the cloud
ascending from your lips. Walk
through the garden’s dormant splendor.
Say only, thank you.
—————————–Song for Autumn by Mary Oliver
In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come – six, a dozen – to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.
When I die, bury me in the yard
Gather all my friends, make a big feast
When I die, everyone should really get happy
Laugh, sing, dance, tell jokes
Don’t bawl, yell into my ears
I won’t be completely gone when I’m dead
All the places where they have great bashes
Where people are free-they’ll remember me.
—————————–The Orange by Wendy Cope
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.
And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
—————————–Two-Headed Calf by Laura Gilpin
Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.
But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass. And
as he stares into the sky, there are
twice as many stars as usual.
—————————–The Tell by William Bronk
I want to tell my friends how beautiful
the world is. Not but what they know
it is terrible too—they know as well as I;
but nevertheless, I want to tell my friends.
Because they are. And this is what they are;
and because it is and this is what it is.
You are my friend. The world is beautiful.
Dear friend, you are. I want to tell you so.
It was beautiful
as long as it lasted
the journey of my life.
I have no regrets
the pain I’ll leave behind.
Those dear hearts
who love and care
and the heavy with sleep
ever moist eyes.
The smile, in spite of a
lump in the throat
and the strings pulling
at the heart and soul.
The strong arms
that held me up
when my own strength
let me down.
Each morsel that I was
fed with was full of love divine.
At every turning of my life
I came across
Friends who stood by me
even when the time raced by.
I smile and bid you goodbye.
No, shed no tears,
for I need them not
All I need is your smile.
If you feel sad
think of me
for that’s what I’d like.
When you live in the hearts
of those you love,
you never die.
—————————The Dash by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end
He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years
For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering this special dash
Might only last a little while
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?
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.