Looking for readings for a non-religious funeral? Whether you’d like to find a reading that reflects the personality of your loved one, or a funny funeral reading that will make friends and family smile, we’ve collected some of our favourite non-religious funeral readings to help you find the right one.
Modern non-religious funeral readings
No Matter What – Debi Gliori
Even though Debi Gliori’s picture book was made to comfort children with its message, it certainly extends to anyone who’s experienced loss. It’s a reminder that even when you’ve lost a loved one, you’re still surrounded by their love.
Small said, “But what about when we are dead and gone, will you love me then, does love go on?”
…Large (replied) “Look at the stars, how they shine and glow, some of the stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies, for you see…love like starlight never dies…”
Bilbo’s Last Song (At the Grey Havens) – JRR Tolkien
Though this was never included in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s a good choice of funeral reading for a fan of Tolkien. Or simply for someone who requested a less sombre way to say goodbye.
“Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I’ll find the heavens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship, my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the Star above my mast!”
The song was set to music in many adaptations after its publication. The below is taken from the BBC Radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
Uplifting funeral readings that are non-religious
Turn Again to Life – Mary Lee Hall
This poem was read out at Princess Diana’s funeral and it’s not hard to see why. The narrator tells its listeners not to mourn for too long. It’s better to continue the good work that the person started in life as a source of comfort instead.
“If I should die and leave you here a while,
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 other hearts than thine.
Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine
and I, perchance may therein comfort you.”
Farewell, Sweet Dust – Elinor Wylie
This non-religious funeral reading poetically describes the scattering of someone’s ashes, and how this helps you become a part of everything around you. It’s a comforting reminder that you’re never really gone when you pass away.
“Now I have lost you, I must scatter
All of you on the air henceforth;
Not that to me it can ever matter
Buy it’s only fair to the rest of the earth.
Now especially, when it is winter
And the sun’s not half so bright as he was,
Who wouldn’t be glad to find a splinter
That once was you in the frozen grass?
Snowflakes, too, will be softer feathered,
Clouds, perhaps, will be whiter plumed;
Rain, whose brilliance you caught and gathered,
Purer silver have reassumed.
Farewell, sweet dust; I never was a miser:
Once, for a minute, I made you mine:
Now you are gone, I am none the wiser
But the leaves of the willow are as bright as wine.”
Death is Nothing at All – Henry Scott-Holland
This poem could be chosen for a spouse or a partner, or even a close friend that you’ve lost. It’s a helpful way of looking at loss. Henry Scott-Holland reminds us with the poem that death is a part of life.
“Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.”
Read the poem in full here.
Remember Me – Margaret Mead
This is an ideal non-religious funeral reading that brings hope in times of grief. Mead’s poem reminds us that you’ll always have memories of the times you shared together, good and bad.
“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.”
You can read the entire poem here.
Non-religious funny funeral readings
Play Jolly Music At My Funeral – Richard Greene
This poem is an excellent choice for the funeral of someone with a sense of humour. It’s the narrator’s light-hearted request for their choice of funeral music because they’d “be happier to see those present have some relief.”
“I’ve taken in recent years to thinking about my funeral
and have decided to make one paramount request:
play jolly music at that ritual.
What good does it do to heap on dirges
or other mournful melodies?
I won’t be there to be gratified by the grieving
and if I could tune in
I’d be happier to see those present have some relief.”
Read the entire poem here.
Eulogy from a Physicist – Aaron Freeman
Even though this funeral reading is obviously non-religious and quite matter of fact, it’s actually quite comforting. It explains that even when you’re gone, your energy is still around – a reassuring thought for non-religious mourners.
“And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.”
You can listen to the eulogy in full here.
More non-religious funeral readings
Having trouble deciding on a non-religious funeral reading? Don’t forget that there are no strict rules about what you can and cannot use. You could choose a poem. Or your loved one’s favourite song lyrics. Here are a few more ideas to give you some inspiration. We hope it helps you find the right way to say goodbye.