After the passing of a loved one, some people struggle to express their emotions. Others find it difficult to find the words to console a dear friend or relative. In each case you know what you want to say but can’t seem to utter even one syllable. If you shared a lifetime together, where do you start? Sometimes, poems about death can help express what you’re feeling inside. Funeral planners, celebrants, or directors can help families choose a funeral poem that fits. It’s important to honor the deceased with words that would resonate with their own.
Here’s a short list of poems about life and death to share with friends and family who need suggestions for a memorial service or funeral.
She is Gone
“You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived.”
These are the opening lines of "Remember Me", a poem written by English painter and poet David Harkins in 1982. This straightforward poem is perfect for someone who lived their life the same way. Hearing it recited teaches us to be grateful.
Farewell My Friends
“Farewell, my friends.
It was beautiful
As long as it lasted,
The journey of my life.”
The poet and musician Rabindranath Tagore wrote this lovely eulogy thanking God for a life well-lived.
Feel No Guilt in Laughter, He'd Know How Much You Care
“Feel no guilt in laughter, he'd know how much you care.
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.
You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to.
He'd hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the way you showed you cared,
The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.
Let memories surround you, a word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day,
That brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,
And fills you with the feeling that he is always near.
For if you keep those moments, you will never be apart
And he will live forever locked safely within your heart.”
These lyrics are perfect if you are looking for a well-known poem which will brighten sad faces at a funeral or memorial. The anonymous writer manages to capture the spectrum of emotions and sentiments experienced when you lose a loved one.
If I Should Go Tomorrow
“If I should go tomorrow
It would never be goodbye,
For I have left my heart with you,
So don't you ever cry.
The love that's deep within me,
Shall reach you from the stars,
You'll feel it from the heavens,
And it will heal the scars.”
Written by an anonymous writer, this short rhyming poem is ideal for an obituary. It explains that although a person has physically departed this world, their love will always be felt.
Let Me Go
“When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?”
These lyrics are among the famous 19th-century poet Christina Rossetti's many poems about grief. Rossetti was a prolific author of poetry, and likely one of the Victorian age’s finest poets.
Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep
“Do not stand
By my grave, and weep.
I am not there,
I do not sleep—
I am the thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle, autumn rain.
As you awake with morning’s hush,
I am the swift, up-flinging rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight,
I am the day transcending night.
Do not stand
By my grave, and cry—
I am not there,
I did not die.”
This poem was written in the 1930’s by Clare Harner after the sudden death of her brother in America. Originally titled "Immortality", Harner's poem soon gained popularity as a eulogy. Interestingly, this poem is often misattributed - most notably Mary Elizabeth Frye asserted ownership of it in 1983.
The Dash Poem
“I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears but said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash. What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spent our dash.
So, think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.
To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives as we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile…remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.”
The Dash Poem, written by Linda Ellis, is popular among families as it talks about getting the most out of life while you are alive. Funeral poems like this one can help people think about what they want to get out of life. Linda teaches us that life is not about how many years you live but what you do with that time on earth. If you understand time, you know it's short. It doesn't matter if you live to be 26 or 60 years old. Live, laugh and most importantly, love!
Like music, poetry is an incredibly powerful way to express ourselves and to evoke feelings in others. Reading poetry can help with the grieving process, as it can help us to change our perspective on the situation. Writing poetry can also be helpful, as we pause and reflect on meaningful memories and our deepest emotions.
Ultimately, choosing the right words by which to remember a special someone need not be difficult. These suggested poems about death and the loss of a loved one are a great place to start.
If there is a particular poem that resonates with you, you might like to have it read at your funeral. By prepaying for your funeral, you can include your memorial wishes saving your family time and stress at what is sure to be an emotional time. This is where the team at Willed can help. To speak with a dedicated funeral planner, phone 1300 945 533 or go to willed.com.au.