3 Moving Poems for Funerals

career funerals May 24, 2022

Poetry reading forms an important funeral ritual. Funeral poetry can be used to reflect on the life of the deceased, comfort the bereaved, or help bid a loved one goodbye. 

However, choosing the right poem may not be easy, particularly if this is your first funeral ceremony as a celebrant. To help you out, we have sampled 3 poems with different themes. You can pick one depending on the message you want to share with the moaners or reflect on the life of the departed.


Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep (1932)

The poem “Do not stand at my grave and weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye was originally written to comfort a friend who had lost her mother. Although it was written in 1932 ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’ is still popular in funeral ceremonies. The poem can be used as a tool for comforting mourners or as a way of depicting the reality of death. 


The second line, ‘I am not there; I do not sleep’ illustrates the reality and permanency of death. After telling the family not to moan and displaying the reality of death, the poem shifts into a comforting tone which talks about life after death. It assures the bereaved that the departed will always be around, though not in the form they used to be.


Death Is Nothing at All (1910)

Although written over a century ago, the poem ‘Death is nothing at all’ by Henry Scott Holland remains a powerful tool for reflecting on the life of the departed. The poem is filled with lines that help the family and friends of the deceased remember them in a special way, even as it comforts them. 


Right from the first line, the poem dismisses death as incapable of separating loved ones. 

Death is nothing at all.

It does not count.

I have only slipped away into the next room.

Nothing has happened.


Everything remains exactly as it was.

I am I, and you are you…. 

The poem continues to speak of how the departed made life special when they were alive.

 ‘And the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.

Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.’


Let Me Go

If you wish to bid a loved one goodbye in a special way, the poem Let Me Go by Christina Rossetti is the perfect tool. The third stanza acknowledges death as a journey that must be taken by the living, and each person has their own departure time. Through the poem, you are able to bid goodbye to a loved one as you wait for your time to join them.


Take Away 

As a funeral celebrant, learning how to incorporate poetry into the burial ceremony can help make the ceremony a success. 


Poetry helps ease grief, comforts the bereaved family, and helps the family to bid goodbye to their loved one. For more tips on how to plan the perfect send off, join the International College of Professional Celebrants today.