Humanist funeral poems

A wooden casket in a funeral home.

If you’re planning a non-religious funeral or a humanist funeral service, you might be looking for suitable poems and readings. We’ve put together a selection of humanist funeral poems to help you find the right way to say goodbye.

Humanist poems for funerals

Something Beautiful Remains – Anonymous

This poem is an excellent choice for a humanist funeral ceremony because it concentrates on the legacy that’s left behind after someone passes away. Instead of mourning a death, humanists try to celebrate the life of the person who’s died. By focussing on their legacy, this poem gives you a chance to reflect on the impact they had in life and the joy they left behind.

“The tide recedes but leaves behind

bright seashells on the sand.

The sun goes down, but gentle

warmth still lingers on the land.

The music stops, and yet it echoes

on in sweet refrains…

For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.”

Farewell – Anne Brontë

Brontë’s poem takes a look at the complex emotions that you might feel after losing a loved one. She expresses grief, but also a sense of joy, because she can still recall memories with the person that she’ll have long after they’ve gone.

“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.”

Here’s a reading of the poem in full:

After Glow – Helen Lowrie Marshall

This is one of the most popular humanist funeral poems because of its focus on “happy memories”. The narrator wants their family and friends to remember the good times. Yes, they might shed a tear. But once they’ve mourned their loss, the narrator wants them to think of the times they laughed together.

“I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.

I’d like to leave an after glow of smiles when life is done.

I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,

Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.

I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun

Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.”

Life Well Lived – Anonymous

This poem talks about leaving the world “a better place”. Life is a gift that we should make the most of while we can. Humanists don’t believe in an afterlife or higher power. Instead, they concentrate on how they act in this life by helping people and seeking happiness now. That’s why this is an ideal choice of poem for a humanist funeral.

“A life well lived is a precious gift,

of hope and strength and grace,

from someone who has made our world

a brighter, better place.

It’s filled with moments, sweet and sad

with smiles and sometimes tears,

with friendships formed and good times shared,

and laughter through the years.

A life well lived is a legacy,

of joy and pride and pleasure,

a living, lasting memory

our grateful heart’s will treasure.”

Humanist funeral poems for Dad

Not, How Did He Die, But How Did He Live? – Anonymous

This humanist funeral poem is an excellent choice for a dad, grandfather, or partner. It’s a tribute to someone who was giving and thoughtful throughout their life. And it also describes the importance of not concentrating on the material things, but remembering how much he was valued by those around him.

“Not, how did he die, but how did he live?

Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?

These are the units to measure the worth

Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth.

Nor what was his church, nor what was his creed?

But had he befriended those really in need?

Was he ever ready, with words of good cheer,

To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?

Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,

But how many were sorry when he passed away?”

Epitaph To A Friend – Robert Burns

Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, left behind this tribute to a friend. It celebrates his values and warmth. But it’s only at the end of the epitaph that Burns mentions his own beliefs. He was known as a humanitarian deist, which meant that he believed in focussing on the relationships you build with other people over the relationship you build with God.

“An honest man here lies at rest

As e’er God with his image blest;

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 informed:

If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;

If there is none, he made the best of this.”

Humanist funeral poems for Mum

She Is Gone – David Harkins

A popular funeral poem among religious and non-religious people. It’s a short but uplifting dedication to a mother, sister or aunt who had humanist beliefs. Or it’s simply a way of letting loved ones know they shouldn’t grieve for too long, but to remember her fondly.

“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.”

You can listen to a complete version of the poem by clicking on the video below:


More funeral poetry

Still not found the right funeral poem for your loved one? We’ve gathered more poems for a humanist funeral that you might find more suitable.

Uplifting funeral poems

Nature poems for funerals

Classic funeral poems