Funerals are an incredibly difficult time for everyone involved. The range of emotions that are swirling around mixed in with the overwhelming grief means they can be some of the most trying times for us. But they become even tougher if you are going to be giving a reading. Having to deal with the pain and loss but at the same time write a fitting tribute or eulogy is a task not to be envied.
A good way to deliver a truly memorable reading though is with a specifically written funeral poem. These poems are designed to deal with the bereavement you and others will be feeling and quite often celebrate the memory of the deceased or offer hope. Not to mention that poems are excellent ways of expressing your own feelings in a very moving way.
So if you are planning on giving a reading at a funeral then choosing to use a poem is a good option. But writing your own poem, especially at such a testing time, is extremely hard to do. Very few of us will be able to compose a touching and beautiful poem that sums up our thoughts on the deceased and that still manages to sound fitting or appropriate. Thankfully though there are many funeral poems and readings that are available for us to use. Doing so can take that pressure off at such a hard time.
So take a look at the funeral and bereavement poems below as well as some memorial reading examples. You can use all of them directly as they are or maybe even as inspiration to write your own. Hopefully they will help you to find a way to put your feelings of loss into words.
For Katrina’s Sun Dial
Time is too slow for those that wait,
Too swift for those that fear,
Too long for those that grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love, time is Eternity.
Henry Van Dyke
When God Saw You Getting Tired
When God saw you getting tired
And a cure was not to be
He put his arms around you
And whispered come to me
He didn’t like what you went through
And he gave you rest
His garden must be beautiful
He only takes the best
And when we saw you sleeping
So peaceful and free from pain
We wouldn’t wish you back
To suffer that again
Today we say goodbye
And as you take your final rest
That garden must be beautiful
Because you are one of the best.
God Called Your Name So Softly
God called your name so softly
That only you could hear
And no-one heard the footsteps
Of angels drawing near.
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you did not go alone
For part of us went with you
The day God called you home.
When at Heart You Should be Sad
When at heart you should be sad,
Pondering the joys we had,
Listen and keep very still.
If the lowing from the hill
Or the toiling of a bell
Do not serve to break the spell,
Listen: you may be allowed
To hear my laughter from a cloud.
Sir Walter Raleigh
Time Will Ease the Hurt
The sadness of the present days
Is locked and set in time,
And moving to the future
Is a slow and painful climb.
But all the feelings that are now
So vivid and so real
Can’t hold their fresh intensity
As time begins to heal.
No wound so deep will ever go
Yet every hurt becomes
A little less from day to day
Nothing else can erase the pain
Imprints on your mind;
But there are softer memories
That time will let you find.
Though your heart won’t let the sadness
Simply slide away,
The echoes will diminish
Even though the memories stay
To My Dear and Loving Husband
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, than thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor aught by love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way reply;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.
1612 – 1672
Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain’d his noon.
Until the hasting day
But to the even-song;
And, having pray’d together, we
Will go with you along.
We have short time to stay, as you,
We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you, or anything.
As your hours do, and dry
Like to the summer’s rain;
Or as the pearls of morning’s dew,
Ne’er to be found again.
She is Gone
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.
If Roses Grow in Heaven
If roses grow in heaven,
Lord pleae pick a bunch for me,
Place them in my Mother’s arms
and tell her they’re from me.
Tell her I love her and miss her,
and when she turns to smile,
place a kiss upon her cheek
and hold her for a while.
Because remembering her is easy,
I do it every day,
but there’s an ache within my heart
that will never go away.
His Journey’s Just Begun
Don’t think of him as gone away
his journey’s just begun,
life holds so many facets
this earth is only one.
Just think of him as resting
from the sorrows and the tears
in a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years.
Think how he must be wishing
that we could know today
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.
And think of him as living
in the hearts of those he touched…
for nothing loved is ever lost
and he was loved so much
Goodnight; ensured release,
Have these for yours,
While sea abides, and land,
And earth’s foundations stand,
and heaven endures.
When earth’s foundations flee,
nor sky nor land nor sea
At all is found
Content you, let them burn:
It is not your concern;
Sleep on, sleep sound.
1859 – 1936
Do not stand at my Grave and Weep
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 glints on snow.
I am the 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 circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Epitaph On A Friend
An honest man here lies at rest,
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 inform’d;
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.
If you give up when it’s deep winter,
you’ll surely miss the promise of your Spring,
the beauty of your Summer
and the fulfillment of your Fall.
Don’t let the pains of one season
overshadow the joys of the rest of the year.
Try not to judge life
by one difficult season;
the exceptional seasons
given you in love.
Sec. Cerge Remonde, PMS
I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless;
That only men incredulous of despair,
Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air
Beat upward to God’s throne in loud access
Of shrieking and reproach. Full desertness,
In souls as countries, lieth silent-bare
Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare
Of the absolute Heavens. Deep-hearted man, express
Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death–
Most like a monumental statue set
In everlasting watch and moveless woe
Till itself crumble to the dust beneath.
Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet:
If it could weep, it could arise and go.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
This Basket Of Burdens
My Basket of burdens
Is filled with the grief of my loss
It is so heavy to carry
Although this road I must cross.
This pathway through life
Feels unbearable at times
And I don’t have the strength
For this mountain I climb.
The Basket’s filled with sorrow
Oh, how I miss my love
At first, It’s impossible to carry,
Where is my help from above?
It’s draining my strength
I can’t do anymore
This pain goes so deep
Right down to my core.
As I carry this Basket
I’ll learn to manage the weight
Each step of the way
Will become easier they say.
But how do they know,
Have they been here before?
If so, where’s their Basket
They’re responsible for?
This Basket of burdens
You can’t see and can’t touch
I carry it inside me
This pain is too much.
Patience is needed to carry
This loss that I feel
A shoulder to lean on
So, someday I will heal.
God sent my family
My friends and spirits unknown
So, I won’t carry this Basket
Someday, I’ll lay down my Basket
With burdens’ no more
My pain will be gone
When, I cross through that door
Then I’ll know reason
For my Basket of Burdens
How God showed me His grace
When I couldn’t cope with the season
Love and support that He gave
When His presence felt unknown
He was with me each step
When I felt so alone
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 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 forever; 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.
W. H. Auden