Poems have become a popular part of funeral services. It’s always difficult to put your feelings into words, and using someone else’s is sometimes easier.
Humanist and non-religious funerals are also becoming more popular and the perfect way to verbalise your feelings or honour a loved one would be with a non-religious funeral poem.
If you’re looking for the perfect non-religious funeral poem for a loved one, we’ve got a few suggestions. Similarly, if you’re thinking about how you want to be remembered and you want a poem to be read at your funeral that isn’t a traditional religious funeral reading or verse, this post could be the inspiration you need.
1. ‘Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep’ by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there, I did 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 mornings 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.
2. ‘Turn Again To Life’ by Mary Lee Hall
If I should die, and leave you here awhile Be not like others sore undone, who keep Long vigils by the silent dust and weep. For my sake, turn again to life, and smile, Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do Something to comfort weaker hearts than thine. Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine, And I, perchance, may therein comfort you!
3. ‘When Death Comes’ by Mary Oliver
When death comes like the hungry bear in autumn; when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut; when death comes like the measle-pox
when death comes like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, and I look upon time as no more than an idea, and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth, tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say all my life I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
4. ‘Requiem’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
Under the wide and starry sky, Dig the grave and let me lie. Glad did I live and gladly die, And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me: Here he lies where he longed to be; Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter home from the hill.
5. ‘Holy Willie's Prayer’ by Robert Burns
O Thou, that in the heavens does dwell, As it pleases best Thysel', Sends ane to Heaven an' ten to Hell, For Thy glory, And no for onie guid or ill They've done afore Thee!
I bless and praise Thy matchless might, When thousands Thou hast left in night, That I am here afore Thy sight, For gifts an' grace A burning and a shining light To a' this place.
What was I, or my generation, That I should get sic exaltation? I wha deserv'd most just damnation For broken laws, Six thousand years 'ere my creation, Thro' Adam's cause..............
6. ‘Prospice’ by Robert Browning
Fear death?—to feel the fog in my throat, The mist in my face, When the snows begin, and the blasts denote I am nearing the place, The power of the night, the press of the storm, The post of the foe; Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form, Yet the strong man must go: For the journey is done and the summit attained, And the barriers fall, Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained, The reward of it all. I was ever a fighter, so—one fight more, The best and the last! I would hate that death bandaged my eyes and forbore, And bade me creep past. No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers The heroes of old, Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears Of pain, darkness and cold. For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave, The black minute's at end, And the elements' rage, the fiend-voices that rave, Shall dwindle, shall blend, Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain, Then a light, then thy breast, O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again, And with God be the rest!
7. ‘Funeral Blues’ by 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.
Let airplanes 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 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.
8. ‘She Is Gone’ by 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 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
9. ‘Farewell’ by Anna Bronte
Farewell to thee! But not farewell To all my fondest thoughts of thee; Within my heart they still shall dwell And they shall cheer and comfort me. Life seems more sweet that thou didst live And men more true thou wert one; Nothing is lost that thou didst give, Nothing destroyed that thou hast done.
10. ‘Remember Me’ by Margaret Mead
To the living, I am gone. To the sorrowful, I will never return. To the angry, I was cheated, But to the happy, I am at peace, And to the faithful, I have never left. I cannot be seen, but I can be heard. So as you stand upon a shore, gazing at a beautiful sea – remember me. As you look in awe at a mighty forest and its grand majesty – remember me. As you look upon a flower and admire its simplicity – remember me. Remember me in your heart, your thoughts, your memories of the times we loved, The times we cried, the times we fought, the times we laughed. For if you always think of me, I will never be gone.
11. ‘One at Rest’ by Anonymous
Think of me as one at rest, for me you should not weep I have no pain no troubled thoughts for I am just asleep The living thinking me that was, is now forever still And life goes on without me now, as time forever will.
If your heart is heavy now because I’ve gone away Dwell not long upon it friend For none of us can stay
Those of you who liked me, I sincerely thank you all And those of you who loved me, I thank you most of all.
And in my fleeting lifespan, as time went rushing by I found some time to hesitate, to laugh, to love, to cry
Matters it now if time began If time will ever cease? I was here, I used it all, and now I am at peace.
Finding the words to say goodbye to a loved one when they pass away can be difficult. No-religious funeral readings and poems can help acknowledge the passing of a loved one and bring comfort to those in attendance. You can also express your feelings by choosing the best funeral songs.