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Grief is a complicated emotion. While we feel sad when we lose someone, there can also be moments of happiness and humour as we remember a person we love. 

Here’s a selection of uplifting funeral poems and readings that celebrates these happy moments. Some have a positive attitude towards death and grief, while others use humour to help make sense of loss. 


Positive and happy funeral poems 

You can use these happy funeral poems to say goodbye to anyone with a positive outlook on life. They don’t focus on religion, so they’re suitable for all kinds of funerals. 


A Legacy of Stitches by Sandra E. Andersen 

Here’s an uplifting, non-religious funeral poem about looking back at life in a positive way. 

For the poet, life is like a quilt. As we grow older, we leave stitches in the quilt that represent our memories. Some quilts are beautiful, others are practical and some remain as ‘works in progress’. No matter what the quilt looks like, though, we’ll all leave something behind for the people we love. 

Read the poem on Sandra E. Andersens website


Life is Like a Round of Golf by Criswell Freeman 

Do you need an uplifting poem for the funeral of a keen golfer? You can’t go wrong with this one. It says that life is short, just like a round of golf. So instead of worrying about ‘troubles’ and ‘errant shots’, we should focus on the things that bring us joy. 

The poem is light-hearted and uses lots of golfing language. It’s sure to be appreciated as a funeral reading – especially if there are golfers at the funeral. 

Youll find the poem here


The Unknown Shore by Elizabeth Clark Hardy 

‘The Unknown Shore’ might feel like a sad poem when you first read it. It mentions sombre things like ‘storms’, ‘gales’ and ‘purple shadows’. However, the message is very positive. It says that death is just another adventure – a voyage ‘o’er the unknown sea to the unknown shore’. 

The poem is quite long, so we’ve only shared a bit of it below. You can read the full poem here

Sometime at eve when the tide is low, 

I shall slip my moorings and sail away. 

Through purple shadows that darkly trail 

O’er the ebbing tide of the unknown sea, 

And a ripple of waters to tell the tale 

Of a lonely voyager, sailing away 

To mystic isles, where at anchor lay 

The craft of those who had sailed before 

O’er the unknown sea to the unknown shore. 


As We Look Back by Clare Jones 

Want to say a big ‘thank you’ to someone who has died? In this happy funeral poem, Clare Jones reflects on a person she’s lost and thanks them for their courage, integrity and support.  

You can read the poem here



Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall 

Helen Lowrie Marshall wrote lots of uplifting poems about death, life and worship. ‘Afterglow’ is probably her most famous piece. It’s about leaving happy memories behind when you’re gone. 

Read ‘Afterglow’ here. 



Uplifting Christian poems 

Here are some beautiful, uplifting funeral poems that look at death from a Christian perspective. 

The Gentle Gardener by Edgar Albert Guest 

Any keen gardener will understand the message of this poem. It talks about wanting to leave a well-tended garden behind for others to enjoy. 

But there’s a deeper meaning too. The poet uses gardening as a symbol for living a gentle and caring life. He’d like to plant flowers everywhere if he could, but he’ll settle for knowing he ‘left no sign of wrong’. In other words, he’ll be happy he did what he could to make the world a better place. 

You can read ’’The Gentle Gardenerhere


Gone Fishin’ by Delmar Pepper 

‘Gone Fishin’’ is an uplifting funeral poem that compares dying to going on a fishing trip. ‘I’ve finished life’s chores assigned to me,’ writes Pepper, ‘so put me on a boat headed out to sea’. 

While it has a religious feel, the poem doesn’t mention God or Jesus directly. So you could read it at a non-religious funeral – especially if the person who has died loved to fish. You can read the poem here. 


Footprints in the Sand 

This inspiring and uplifting Christian poem is very popular, though no one knows for sure who wrote it. 

The poem is a parable – a story with a spiritual message. It describes a person walking along a beach with God. The person looks back at their life and sees two sets of footprints – one for them and one for God. 

During the difficult parts of their life, however, there was only one set of footprints. This is because God was carrying the person during those troubled times. 

You can read a version of the poem here


A Song of Living by Amelia Josephine Burr 

‘A Song of Living’ reads like a list of proud achievements. The person in the poem has worked hard, forged friendships and survived many ups and downs. Now they’re older, they feel ready for death because they know they’ve lived life to the full. 

The opening line of this poem is quite famous: ‘Because I have loved life, I have no sorrow to die’. 



Woodland Burial by Pam Ayres 

This funeral poem is by Pam Ayres, a popular poet and TV personality in the UK. She’s best known for writing humorous verse, but ‘Woodland Burial’ is different. There are no jokes in this ode to green funerals, but it’s inspiring and uplifting all the same. 

In the poem, Ayres asks her family and friends to plant a tree on her grave so she can ‘grow resplendent before God’. 

The poem is available on Pam Ayres’ website



His Journey’s Just Begun by Ellen Brenneman 

‘His Journey’s Just Begun’ is one of the most popular uplifting poems for funerals. It says that death is just one step on the great journey of life and death. 

The poem is written for a man but you can easily adapt it to suit someone else. Read it here. 



Light-hearted funeral poems 

Are you saying goodbye to someone who loved a good joke? Have a look at these funny poems about death and dying. 


A funny funeral poem for Mum 

Bingo! By Michael Ashby 

This humorous funeral poem would suit someone who spent many hours at the bingo hall. It starts with the words, ‘My mum’s playing bingo in heaven’ – but you can switch ‘mum’ for ‘dad’, ‘granny’ or ‘friend’. The poem is full of jokes and bingo references. 

Head over to Michael Ashbys website to readBingo!’. 


A funny funeral poem for dad 

The Big Plan by Gunnar Hassenplug 

‘The Big Plan’ is about a motorcyclist who’s thinking about their own death. They admit they probably won’t get invited into heaven, so they come up with a backup plan. Instead of leaving it to chance, they’ll construct a huge ramp and ride their bike straight through heaven’s gates. 

It’s quite a niche subject and the joke won’t appeal to everyone. But if the person who has died was a biker with a cheeky sense of humour, this poem could make for the perfect funeral reading. 

Heres a collection of poems that includesThe Big Plan’. Scroll down a little bit to find it.


Non-religious funny funeral poems 

Death by Joe Brainard 

Based on the title, you might think this poem is quite serious. However, it’s actually very funny and thought-provoking. It reads like a long reflection on death, written by a comedian with a dark sense of humour. 

The main message is that death is nothing to worry about. As the poem says, ‘To die is a perfectly normal thing to do’. 

Take a look at the poem here and see if you think it’s suitable.


Pardon Me for Not Getting Up by Kelly Roper 

‘Pardon Me for Not Getting Up’ takes a very light-hearted look at death. The character in the poem has died, but instead of feeling sad or contemplative, they apologise for being ‘such a stiff and unwelcoming host’! 

It’s not all jokes though – and the message is very sweet. The narrator goes on to say that she hopes her friends will share a story and a few drinks in her memory. 

You can read it here. 



Uplifting funeral readings and quotes 

Here’s a selection of uplifting and humorous funeral readings from famous people and books. 

An extract from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 

Fahrenheit 451 is not a happy novel. However, this extract has a very uplifting feel. It’s all about our legacies – the things we leave behind after death. 

When you plant a tree or write a book, says Bradbury, you change the world in a small way. These small changes will continue to have an impact on people, even after we’re gone. 

Read the extract here. 

A funny quote by Winston Churchill 

Perhaps the person who has died had a reputation for being larger than life. If so, this quote by Winston Churchill might be a good fit. You could read it at the end of a funeral speech or eulogy if you want to lighten the mood. 


I am ready to meet my maker, but whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.



A profound and humorous quote by Mark Twain 

Are you looking for non-religious, funny funeral readings? Try this quote by the famous American author Mark Twain. It’s just as humorous as it is thoughtful. 


I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions of years before I was born and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience.



Psalms 147:3 

There are lots of Bible verses that would work as uplifting readings for Christian funerals. This one reminds us that God is always looking after us – even in our darkest moments. 


He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.


Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash.