Choosing a Funeral Poem or Verse
If you’re at a loss for words, consider adding a poem or verse to your loved one’s funeral service.
Many people look to incorporate poems or verses into a funeral or memorial service. Some, recite the lines during the service, others include the text in the funeral programs, and still others print the words on their thank you cards. But, it can be difficult to find the words that best express your feelings and capture the essence of your loved one. When trying to decide about a funeral poem or verse, it may help to think about the personality of the deceased. For instance, if your loved one was religious, perhaps a religious verse would work best. Did your loved one have a favorite band or singer? Perhaps you could select a meaningful song lyric to share. How about authors? Did your loved one have a special appreciation for Mark Twain or William Shakespeare?
Funeral poems and verses: A list of examples to incorporate at your loved one’s memorial or celebration of life service
Below are examples of popular poems and verses used for funeral, memorial, and celebration of life services. Do any of these resonate with you?
This poem about a successful life by Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist and poet, may be a good choice for those trying to convey the personality of their loved one:
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of the intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
to know that one life has breathed easier
because you lived here.
This is to have succeeded.
These words by poet, Robert Burns, are another option for those looking to convey the personality of their loved one:
An honest man here lies at rest
As e’er God with his image blest;
The friend of man, the friend of truth,
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so informed:
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.
Psalm 23 may be a nice choice for a religious funeral service:
The L-rd is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.
He lays me down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.
He revives my soul; He directs me in paths of righteousness for the sake of His Name.
Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff-they will comfort me.
You will prepare a table for me before my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup is full.
Only goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the L-rd for many long years.
For spiritual, not necessarily religious, words, consider this poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s 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 cry,
I am not there. I do not die.
For those who appreciate classical literature, consider the words of poet, John Donne:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost over throw
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure – then, from thee much more must flow;
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.
Thou’rt slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke. Why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more. Death thou shalt die.
If your loved one was a music buff, consider these lyrics, sung by Led Zeppelin and written by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page:
They say memories are golden,
Well, maybe that is true;
I never wanted memories,
I only wanted you.
A million times I needed you,
A million times I cried;
If love alone could have saved you,
You never would have died.
In life I loved you dearly,
In death I love you still;
In my heart you hold a piece
No one could ever fill.
But now I know you want me
To mourn for you no more,
To remember the happy times
Life still has much in store.
Since you’ll never be forgotten
I pledge to you today;
A hallowed place within my heart
Is where you’ll always stay.
If tears could build a stairway
And heartache make a lane;
I’d walk the path to heaven
And bring you back again.
Our family chain is broken,
and nothing seems the same;
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.
Do you have any other poems or verses to suggest? If so, please share them below.
Leah Yomtovian Roush is the Senior Manager of Strategic Development for Cleveland, Ohio-based eFuneral, a comprehensive and free online resource that enables those thinking about end-of-life to research, plan, and arrange a wide variety of funeral-related services. Leah is the editor of eFuneral's Online Resource Center, and she manages the company's marketing efforts and develops strategies for company growth. Leah also serves on the Boards of multiple non-profit organizations, helping them expand their reaches and increase their impacts.