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Finding the right words to remember someone who was spiritual can feel challenging. You might have found that a lot of funeral poems and readings are overtly religious. On the other hand, popular non-religious funeral poems might not nod enough to the person’s spiritual nature. Here you can find a choice of spiritual poems for funerals that explore universal themes like love, wisdom, truth and share a belief in being part of a greater whole. 

The Death Song – Pashta MaryMoon 

“Relax into the Darkness 
Let it fill your Soul 
And loosen all your separateness 
Return unto the Whole 
And may you come again, friend 
And may you come again, by Spirit 
And may you come again, friend 
And blessed be those who come Home. 
The One becomes the Many 
Then they return to One, 
The Light, it brings the Journey 
The Darkness takes us Home.” 

This beautiful spiritual poem for a funeral encourages us to let go of our natural fear of death. Pashta MaryMoon refers to “The Darkness” as home. Something we came from and that we’ll all return to. Rather than running from it, she says we should relax into it. The poem shares the belief that our lives are just a short part of our journey and there’s more to look forward to after it. 

Find the full poem at Poem Hunter

Remember Me – Margaret Mead 

“To the living, I am gone,
To the sorrowful, I will never return,
To the angry, I was cheated,
But to the happy, I am at peace,
And to the faithful, I have never left.

I cannot speak, but I can listen.
I cannot be seen, but I can be heard.
So as you stand upon a shore gazing at a beautiful sea,
As you look upon a flower and admire its simplicity,
Remember me.

Remember me in your heart:
Your thoughts, and 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 have gone."

These words by Margaret Mead make a good choice of spiritual poem for a funeral or for a condolence card. She shares that it’s easy to feel a huge range of emotions when you lose someone you love. Including less spoken about feelings like anger. But she encourages those listening to be happy that the person is at peace. She says that though her body is gone, her spirit isn’t. That she can’t be seen, but she can hear and watch over those she’s left behind. Most importantly, she reminds you to remember the good times you had with the person you miss. 

Find the full poem on Grief and Sympathy

The Canterville Ghost – Oscar Wilde 

“Death must be so beautiful. 
To lie in the soft brown earth, 
with the grasses waving above one's head, 
and listen to silence. 
To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. 
To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.” 

While this excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s book The Canterville Ghost isn’t a poem, it can easily be read as one. In just a few short lines, he shares the idea that you’re never really disconnected from the world we live in and that you’ll always be a part of it. While his words are usually more witty than comforting, this part of his story shares a sense of peace and confidence that the person who’s passed is still part of a greater picture. 

A Passage from Invocation to Kali – May Sarton 

“Help us to be the always hopeful 
Gardeners of the spirit 
Who know that without darkness 
Nothing comes to birth 
As without light 
Nothing flowers.” 

A Passage from Invocation to Kali is a long poem by May Sarton, dedicated to the Goddess Kali. Kali is the Goddess of time, change, and destruction. She is involved in the life/death life cycle. Many believe that she can give you the energy to keep you growing and transforming and can help you change your perspective on life and death. In this poem, May Sarton invokes her spirit. The section above comes from the poem’s last stanza. It reminds us that without death, there wouldn’t be life. In the same way that without darkness, there wouldn’t be any light. She encourages a sense that without death, we wouldn’t have the joy that is life. 

You can read the full poem here

Sonnet 2 – May Sarton 

“If I can let you go as trees let go 
Their leaves, so casually, one by one; 
If I can come to know what they do know, 
That fall is the release, the consummation, 
Then fear of time and the uncertain fruit 
Would not distemper the great lucid skies 
This strangest autumn, mellow and acute. 
If I can take the dark with open eyes 
And call it seasonal, not harsh or strange 
(For love itself may need a time of sleep), 
And, treelike, stand unmoved before the change, 
Lose what I lose to keep what I can keep. 
The strong root still alive under the snow, 
Love will endure — if I can let you go."

This is another of May Sarton’s spiritual poems for funerals, this time taken from her collection of Autumn Sonnets. May uses a lot of natural imagery, encouraging us to remember that we are a part of nature, which runs in cycles – from spring (our birth) to winter (our last years). This poem doesn’t just offer us comfort in reminding us that we’re following the natural and inevitable order of things. It also offers different ways of coping – letting go of what we can’t control and embracing what we can (the memories that lie deep within us). 

Sleeping in the Forest – Mary Oliver 

“I thought the earth remembered me, 
she took me back so tenderly, 
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets 
full of lichens and seeds. 
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed, 
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars 
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths 
among the branches of the perfect trees. 
All night I heard the small kingdoms 
breathing around me, the insects, 
and the birds who do their work in the darkness. 
All night I rose and fell, as if in water, 
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning 
I had vanished at least a dozen times 
into something better.” 

This poem also uses a lot of natural imagery. Mary Oliver compares death to falling asleep in nature, while the Earth returns you to nature. It promises “something better” waiting for people who pass away. If you’d like to read more poems like this, take a look at our collection of nature poems for funerals

Read the poem in full at Poet Sears

Within the Circles of Our Lives – Wendell Berry 

“Within the circles of our lives 
we dance the circles of the years, 
the circles of the seasons 
within the circles of the years, 
the cycles of the moon 
within the circles of the seasons, 

the circles of our reasons 
within the cycles of the moon. 

Again, again we come and go, 
changed, changing. Hands 
join, unjoin in love and fear, 
grief and joy.” 

Within the Circles of Our Lives is another good choice of spiritual poem for a funeral. Wendell Berry talks about life and death in a way that shares an idea of reincarnation. He refers to life as a circle, where you come and go, coming into one another’s lives and then leaving again. It gives hope that you and the person you’ve lost will meet again in some way. 

Read the full poem here

Little Gidding - T.S. Eliot 

“We shall not cease from exploration 
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time. 
Through the unknown, remembered gate.” 

While T.S Eliot wasn’t a notably spiritual person, he did write these words in Little Gidding, the fourth and final poem in his Four Quarters. This is another poem that refers to reincarnation. He implies that our lives never actually come to an end. Instead, we return to the place we started and start all over again. This makes a good funeral reading if you’re looking for something more positive. 

You can hear a reading of an extract of this poem at The Poetry Archive.