Funeral readings and quotes from literature

Pages from a book.

When you’re planning a funeral, you might want to include some readings. These generally use quotes or excerpts of books that your loved one enjoyed, or that are relevant to them and their life. Over time, writers, poets and playwrights have written about death and loss. So, you might find that their words fit well. Here are some funeral readings from literature that might be right for you.

Funeral quotes from literature

Quotes can be a good place to start if you feel nervous about reading a longer extract, which is completely normal. Quotes can also lead into stories about your loved one and their life.

Adam Bede – George Elliot

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.”  In this quote, George Elliot reminds us that our loved ones might no longer be with us, but they live on in the memories they made with us and the things they did while they were here.

The Picture of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde

“Some things are more precious because they don’t last long.”  This quote by Oscar Wilde could be a good funeral literature quote for someone who passed away young.

Diary – Chuck Palahniuk

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”  This short quote could be a good way to lead into talking about the great things that your loved one did during their lifetime. Whether that’s to do with their work, family, hobbies or anything else.

In Memoriam – Lord Tennyson

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  This is one of the best-know quotes on loss. It acknowledges how difficult it can be to lose someone, but offers comfort that you were able to experience the joy you did with them while they were with us.

Frankz Kafka

“The meaning of life is that it stops.”   Franz Kafka was an existentialist writer, which means he wrote a lot on the meaning of life. This quote shares the same idea as the Tennyson quote above. While loss can be difficult, it’s a necessary part of life and all of the good times that come with it.

Funeral readings from literature

If you’d prefer to share a longer reading, we can help. Below, you can find our collection of readings from literature for funerals.

Hunter S Thompson

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”  This literary funeral reading works well for someone who lived a full and exciting life. It celebrates the idea of making the most of your time in the world.

Romeo & Juliet – William Shakespeare

“When he shall die,  Take him and cut him out in little stars,  And he will make the face of heaven so fine  That all the world will be in love with night  And pay no worship to the garish sun.”  Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet is best-known as a tragic love story, but this quote serves well as a short funeral reading. It shares your love and admiration for the person who’s passed.  You can find more Shakespeare readings that are suitable for funerals here.

A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”  This section of John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany might help you share how grief feels. It’s completely normal to feel that you lose a person bit by bit as you grow used to them being absent from your life in different ways.

Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien

“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it… White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”  If your loved one was a Lord of the Rings fan, this is one of the most popular Lord of the Rings funeral quotes. It talks about hope beyond life and how things might not necessarily come to an end through death.

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so as long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”  This literary funeral reading from Fahrenheit 451 could be a good opening to talking about the positive changes your loved one left behind. You could talk about certain things that will always bring them to your mind since they passed.

More funeral readings and quotes