Poems to say goodbye at a funeral

open poetry book on table with white tablecloth coffee cup and terracotta vase of flowers

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 use poetry to say goodbye. The right poem can capture something special about a person who has died 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 it 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

This farewell funeral poem 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 ‘say 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.

Poems about leaving

It can be comforting to think of death as the start of a new journey. These leaving poems capture the unique mix of hope and heartbreak we feel when a loved one goes away. While we’re sad that they’re leaving, we trust that we’ll meet them again one day.

 Dear Friend by Grinnell Willis

Are you looking for a poem that says goodbye to a friend who died? ‘Dear Friend’ 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.

A Farewell by Charles Kingsley

This inspirational farewell poem is meant as a piece of advice from a parent to a child. However, it would suit any person who lived a full and happy life.

The message is simple: if you’re a good person and you chase your dreams, you’ll be happy ever after.

My fairest child, I have no song to give you;

No lark could pipe to skies so dull and grey:

Yet, ere we part, one lesson I can leave you

For every day.

Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever;

Do noble things, not dream them, all day long:

And so make life, death, and that vast for-ever

One grand, sweet song.

Funeral poems to say goodbye to family members

When a relative dies, it can be especially hard to put your grief into words. Here are 3 poems of farewell for loved ones to help you express your feelings. There’s one for dad, one for mum and one for a brother or sister.

A ‘farewell father’ funeral poem

Cowboy’s Farewell by C. J. Krieger

Dads and cowboys can have a lot in common. A good dad is strong, wise and trustworthy, just like the ranchers of the Old West.

This poem is written from the cowboy’s point of view. He saddles his horse, kisses a loved one goodbye and sets off into the sunset for the last time.

Read the poem here.

A goodbye poem for mum

A Mother’s Farewell to Her Children by Helen Steiner Rice

Helen Steiner Rice wrote lots of poetry about farewells, friendships and faith. In this piece, a mother speaks to her children from the afterlife. She offers them words of comfort and promises to be waiting for them when they pass away.

The complete poem is available here.

A poem for saying goodbye to a sibling

Remember Me by Margaret Mead

This poignant poem is ideal for saying goodbye to a sister, brother or cousin. It’s unusual because it acknowledges the difficult parts of a relationship, as well as the happy times. If you’ve ever fought and made up with a close relative, you’ll appreciate its message.

You’ll find the full poem here.

[YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsqGzPd1SFw]

Positive ‘say goodbye’ funeral 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 goodbye funeral 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 saying goodbye poem written as a farewell 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 short farewell poems are special because they say a lot with just a few lines. Either of them would work as a brief funeral reading, perhaps at the end of a longer eulogy. Or you could write one in a memorial 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

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