It’s hard to find the right words to say goodbye to someone. Grief is a complicated emotion and sometimes it’s tricky to express how you feel with a speech or story.
That’s why many people turn to poetry when someone close to them has died. The right poem can capture something special about a person and say it in a beautiful and powerful way.
Here are some of our favourite saying goodbye poems. If you find one that you like, you might want to read it at the person’s funeral or print and share it as a tribute.
Goodbye poems about death
If you’re looking for a powerful way to say goodbye at a funeral, these poems are a good place to start. They would be a good fit for any funeral service, whether the person who has died was a friend, parent, sibling or child.
Of course, you don’t have to read them aloud at the service. You may find them comforting to read to yourself as you come to terms with your loss.
Remember by Christina Rossetti
‘Remember’ is written from the point of view of a person who has died. The person is saying goodbye to those they loved and asking them to be happy once their grief has faded.
It was written by Christina Rossetti, an English poet who lived in the 19th century.
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Farewell by Anne Brontë
Anne Brontë was part of a famous family of authors in the 19th century. She wrote lots of poems, many of which are about death and dying.
‘Farewell’ is a passionate tribute to a person who has died. It would work well as a goodbye poem for someone very close to you.
It’s quite a long poem that would take a few minutes to read in full. The first two verses are below. You can read the rest here.
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.
O, beautiful, and full of grace!
If thou hadst never met mine eye,
I had not dreamed a living face
Could fancied charms so far outvie.
If I may ne’er behold again
That form and face so dear to me,
Nor hear thy voice, still would I fain
Preserve, for aye, their memory.
Dear Friend by Grinnell Willis
This poem isn’t necessarily about death, but it has a bittersweet feel that would be appropriate for a funeral.
The first two verses are about the difficulty of saying goodbye to someone you love. The last verse wishes the person a safe journey and hopes for a happy reunion in the future. If you’re religious, you might interpret this reunion as a meeting in the afterlife.
Dear friend, ’tis hard to say farewell,
And harder yet it is to tell,
In parting words, how strong the tie
We sever now in this good-bye.
We all shall miss thy gentle grace.
Thy willing hand and cheerful face;
No other friend thy place can fill.
Though absent we shall claim thee still;
God bless the work thou hast begun,
And guard thee in the years to come.
And when thy heart is weary, or alone.
Come back and rest in this thy home.
Uplifting funeral goodbye poems
Funeral readings don’t have to be sad or serious. Why not say goodbye with a happy funeral poem instead? Here are a couple of pieces with an uplifting feel.
Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall
Helen Lowrie Marshall was a writer from Nebraska who published several books of inspirational poetry. ‘Afterglow’ is one of her most popular pieces. It’s a simple poem about wanting to leave happy memories behind.
‘Afterglow’ could work well as a saying goodbye poem for someone who had a positive outlook on life. You can read it here.
Turn Again to Life by Mary Lee Hall
This is another poem written as a goodbye message from a loved one. It says that if the person dies, their friends and family should look for positive ways to express their grief. The idea is that by comforting others and living life to the full, they’ll find comfort for themselves.
‘Turn Again to Life’ was performed by Princess Diana’s sister at her funeral in 1997.
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 unfinished tasks of mine,
And I, perchance, may therein comfort you.
Short goodbye poems
These poems are special because they say a lot with just a few lines. Either of them would work as a short funeral reading, perhaps at the end of a longer eulogy. Or you could write one in a condolence card and give it to the family of the person who has died.
Warm Summer Sun by Mark Twain/Robert Richardson
‘Warm Summer Sun’ is often attributed to Mark Twain, one of the most famous American writers of the 19th century. However, the work is actually adapted from a longer poem called ‘Annette’ by Robert Richardson.
The poem talks about being laid to rest and coming to terms with death. It would make for a brief yet powerful poem to say goodbye at a funeral.
Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.
A Farewell by Harriet Monroe
Harriet Monroe is most famous as the editor of Poetry magazine, but she was also a talented poet. ‘A Farewell’ is among her simplest and most beautiful pieces. It’s a short ‘goodbye’ poem that compares life and death to a bee buzzing between flowers.
Good-bye!—no, do not grieve that it is over,
The perfect hour;
That the winged joy, sweet honey-loving rover,
Flits from the flower.
Grieve not—it is the law. Love will be flying—
Yes, love and all.
Glad was the living—blessed be the dying.
Let the leaves fall.
More funeral and memorial poetry
- A collection of nature poems for funerals
- Our favourite modern funeral poems
- More short poems about losing a loved one
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