Choosing Funeral or Bereavement Poems
Choosing a funeral poem or bereavement poem to be read during a funeral is something that you need to give careful consideration. The right choice of bereavement poem can prove to be very comforting to the bereaved.
It may be that the deceased had requested a particular funeral poem that they would like reading at their funeral or had often mentioned a poet whose works they enjoyed. It could even be the case that they had a book of these poems or even bookmarked them as a favourite website. Discussing this with close family members may help you find the perfect poem or verse. If there is no indication that the deceased had any particular favourite bereavement poem or poet then you will need to find something that you believe to be appropriate.
The funeral and bereavement poems below are just a few examples. You can find many more traditional and modern poems by searching on the web or at your local library.
Remember by Christina Rosetti
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Stop all the clocks by WH 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 crepe 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.
Life Goes On by Joyce Grenfell
If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower
Nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I am 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
Remember Me by David Harkins
Do not shed tears when I have gone but smile instead because I have lived.
Do not shut your eyes and pray to God that I'll come back but open your eyes and see
all that I have left behind.
I know your heart will be empty because you cannot see me but still I want you to be full of the love we shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live only for yesterday or you can be happy for tomorrow
because of what happened between us yesterday.
You can remember me and grieve that I have gone or you can cherish my memory and let it live on.
You can cry and lose yourself, become distraught and turn your back on the world or you
can do what I want - smile, wipe away the tears, learn to love again and go on.
Of course, you must not feel that you have to use a well known poem: it is the words that matter and not who wrote them or when they were written. There is a wealth of contemporary verse available and you may find something that captures the essence of the deceased perfectly.
If the deceased had a favourite song, band or singer then there may be some appropriate lyrics that would work well as a reading, providing they seem suitable. Song lyrics can usually be found on the web. Again, this is something that you may want to discuss with close family members.
You could also consider asking a family member or close friend to write a poem. Children in particular can often find the most touching and succinct words and this can be a good way to involve them in the funeral process, even if they are not present for the service.