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It can be hard to find the right words to express grief – especially if the family has asked you to make a funeral speech
 
Don't worry. There are lots of beautiful funeral poems to choose from. If you find one you like, you can pay tribute to the person who has died using someone else's words.

Here are some suitable poems for funeral services. Perhaps you'll spot one that expresses the things you want to say. 

Poems for funerals and memorial services 

This selection includes sad and uplifting poems, so you can find something to suit the service. 

A beautiful and popular funeral poem 

She Is Gone (He Is Gone) by David Harkins 

This poem by David Harkins is one of the most popular poems to say at a funeral. Although Harkins published it under a different title, today it’s best known as ‘She is Gone’, ‘He is Gone’ or ‘You Can Shed Tears’. 

Read ‘She Is Gone’ here.

A simple funeral poem for a family member 

His Journey's Just Begun by Ellen Brenneman 

This poem is easy to understand and looks at grief in a positive way. It’s written for a male relative but you could easily change it to ‘Her Journey’s Just Begun’. 

Read ‘His Journey’s Just Begun’ here.

A funeral poem that celebrates life 

Success by Bessie Anderson Stanley 

‘Success’ isn’t a poem about death – but it’s suitable for a funeral because it looks back on memories of a life well lived. The poem is often credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but its real author was an American woman called Bessie Anderson Stanley. She wrote ‘Success’ in 1904 for a writing contest. When she died, the poem was inscribed on her gravestone. 

"He has achieved success
who has lived well,
laughed often, and loved much;

[...]
who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;

who has left the world better than he found it
whether by an improved poppy,
a perfect poem or a rescued soul;

who has never lacked appreciation of Earth's beauty
or failed to express it;

who has always looked for the best in others and
given them the best he had;

whose life was an inspiration;
whose memory a benediction."

A memorial poem about finding peace 

One at Rest by A. J. Stanley 

Lots of funeral poems portray death as a long, tranquil sleep. In ‘One at Rest’, the person who has died tells us they’ve found peace and reminds us to make the most of our short lives. 

Read ‘One at Rest’ here.

Remembrance poetry about death being like a journey 

When I’m Gone by Mosiah Lyman Hancock 

When we think back on those we’ve lost, it’s natural to want to focus on happy memories and ignore the bad times. That’s the message of ‘When I’m Gone’. The person in the poem asks us to forget ‘unkind words’ and remember that they ‘had loads of fun’ while they were alive. 

Read ‘When I’m Gone’ here.

When I Go by Donna Ashworth 

‘When I Go’ is taken from Donna Ashworth’s poetry collection, Loss. It’s a beautiful poem with a comforting message: love will live on even after we die. 

Read ‘When I Go’ here

I Am Not Gone by Michael Ashby 

Michael Ashby is a UK-based writer who has composed many popular poems for funeral services. This one has a similar feel to ‘When I Go’ and ‘When I’m Gone’ – it’s about how our lost loved ones can live on in memories. 

Read ‘I Am Not Gone’ here

Shorter pieces of poetry for funerals 

No Night Without by Helen Steiner Rice 

Helen Steiner Rice wrote several remembrance poems that are suitable for a funeral. ‘No Night Without’ is one of her best-known poems about death. 

Read ‘No Night Without’ here.

Death by Joyce Grenfell 

Like many of her writings, Joyce Grenfell's funeral poem has a slightly humorous feel. It might be a good tribute to a person who didn't take life too seriously. 

This poem is sometimes known as ‘If I Should Go’ or ‘When I Am Gone’. 

Read ‘Death’ here.

Funeral poems for specific faiths and cultures 

Poems for Christian funeral services 

Death Is Nothing at All by Henry Scott-Holland 

Henry Scott-Holland was a famous priest and social activist. This is one of his best-known poems about dying. It might be suitable for a Christian funeral, or for anyone who believes death isn't the end. It's sometimes known as ‘Life Unbroken’, ‘All Is Well’ or ‘I Am in the Next Room’. 

"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,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!"

 

Don’t Cry for Me by Deborah Garcia Gaitan 

Like many poems for funerals, ‘Don’t Cry for Me’ looks at loss from a Christian point of view. Though the character in the poem has died, they reassure us that they’re safe in Heaven with Jesus. 

Read ‘Don’t Cry for Me’ here.

An Indian funeral prayer 

This traditional piece will work at any funeral, whether it's religious or not. 

"When I am dead 
Cry for me a little 
Think of me sometimes 
But not too much. 

Think of me now and again 
As I was in life 
At some moments it's pleasant to recall 
But not for long. 

Leave me in peace 
And I shall leave you in peace 
And while you live 
Let your thoughts be with the living."

The Islamic funeral prayer 

Ṣalāt al-Janāzah 

Here's a guide to praying the Janazah, the Muslim funeral prayer.

Photo by South Agency on iStock.