A funeral poem or reading is a common part of many modern funerals. Whether religious or not, they are a lovely way for you to say goodbye to your loved one, and add a personal touch to any service.
How to read a poem at a funeral
Reading in public can be a daunting prospect for many people, especially at a funeral. If you are reading a poem at a loved one’s funeral, here are some tips to help guide you:
- Familiarise yourself with the poem – ahead of the service, practice reading the poem aloud to make sure you’re confident with it. Additionally, use a dictionary to look up any unfamiliar or hard-to-pronounce words.
- Read the poem slowly – use the natural pauses in the poem i.e. a comma, full stop or period, to take a breath.
- Read in a normal tone of voice – unless the poem/reading calls for it, try and avoid an overly dramatic tone of voice.
- Don’t mumble – for people at the back of the room, make sure you project your voice so they can hear the poem/reading.
- Remember to breathe – this may sound obvious, but in nerve-wracking situations many people forget to take a breath.
- Try to relax – this is easier said than done, but try and enjoy the moment for the sake of your loved one and their memory.
How to write a poem for a funeral
For those of you with a creative flare, you may wish to write your own funeral poem. This is a very personal way of saying farewell to your loved one, as you can truly speak from the heart. The process can also be very cathartic, by helping you process the loss and put your feelings into words.
Here are some tips for you to approach the writing process:
- Get your ideas down – don’t worry about a structure or rhyme scheme to begin with, just note down any feelings, memories or thoughts that spring to mind.
- Think of a theme or emotion – you may wish to evoke a particular feeling or idea with your poem i.e. happy, reflective, uplifting, and this will help give your poem some direction.
- Make it personal – if you have any personal memories you wish to share, or particular traits you valued about your loved one, this can be a great place to express them.
- Tidy it up – once you have done all of the above, it’s time to think about making your poem flow. If you’re a bit stuck, it’s good to look to other poems for inspiration and guidance.
What are some poems to say goodbye at a funeral
A funeral is your chance to say goodbye to a loved one, and a poem can be a simple yet personal way to do this. If you have chosen/or been selected to read a poem at the funeral of a friend or family member, there are lots of options to choose from.
Here are some popular funeral poems:
Do not stand at my grave and weep, Mary Elizabeth Frye
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
Death is nothing at all, Henry Scott Holland
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
She 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
I’m There Inside Your Heart, Anon
I’m with you when you greet each day
And while the sun shines bright
I’m there to share the sunsets, too
I’m with you every night.
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.
What are some inspirational poems on death
As well as being a celebration of life, a funeral is a time to reflect. Poetry can be an emotive way to consider your loved one’s life, and how they positively impacted those around them.
- Farewell My Friends, Rabindranath Tagore
- If I Should Go Tomorrow, Joyce Grenfell
- The Star, Anon
- There Is No Night With A Dawning, Helen Steiner Rice
- Your Spirit, Tram-Tiara T. Von Reichenbach
- What is dying?, Bishop Brent
What are some uplifting funeral readings
If your loved one was a fan of literature, a reading from their favourite book, or an extract they treasured, can be a lovely addition to a funeral service. Here are some popular extracts for uplifting funeral readings:
An extract from Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne
If ever there is tomorrow
when we’re not together…
there is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.
But the most important thing is,
even if we’re apart…
I’ll always be with you.
An extract from Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing…after all, what’s a life anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die…By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.
An extract from The Tempest, William Shakespeare – Prospero’s speech (Act IV, Scene I)
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve;
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
An extract from The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems… But all these stars are silent. You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them… In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me… You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure… It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh.
What are some happy funeral poems
Many see funerals as a celebration of life and for that reason encourage mourners to choose a positive, happy funeral poem to read at the service. There are lots of different styles to choose from, but here are some popular choices:
- Afterglow, Anon
- Death is Nothing at All, Henry Scott-Holland
- All Is Well, Henry Scott-Holland
- A Song of Living, Amelia Josephine Burr
- One At Rest, Anon
- Happy the Man, John Dryden
What are some funny funeral poems
Depending on the personality of the person who has passed away, a funny funeral poem could be the right fit. The main thing is to remain sensitive to the bereaved friends and family, and to ask yourself: is this poem appropriate for the person who has died? Is it something they’d have found funny?
- Pardon Me for Not Getting Up, Kelly Roper
- Death, Sean Hughes
- A Long Cup of Tea, Michael Ashby
- Untitled jisei, Moriya Sen’an
- Death, Joe Brainard
What are some non-religious funeral poems
A humanist funeral is a non-religious service which celebrates the life of a friend, family member or partner. These types of funerals are becoming more and more popular, so here are some poems/readings free from religious sentiment:
- Remember, Christina Rossetti
- Roads Go Ever On, J. R. R. Tolkien
- To Those Whom I Love and Those Who Love Me, Anon
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Gone, But Not Forgotten, Ellen Brenneman
- I’m There Inside Your Heart, Anon
- The Life That I Have, Leo Marks
- Death Sets a Thing Significant, Emily Dickinson