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 poetry 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
This poem isn’t about grieving or feeling sad – it’s 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. Andersen’s website.
Life is Like a Round of Golf by Criswell Freeman
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.
You’ll 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.
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 Gardener’ here.
Gone Fishin’ by Delmar Pepper
‘Gone Fishin’’ is a modern 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
This poem 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’.
Light-hearted funeral poems
Are you saying goodbye to someone with a great sense of humour? One of these funny and light-hearted poems could be just the right thing.
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.
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.
Here’s a collection of poems that includes ‘The Big Plan’. Scroll down a little bit to find it.
Bingo! By Michael Ashby
This is a funny and uplifting poem about the death of a loved one 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 Ashby’s website to read ’’Bingo!’.
Pardon Me for Not Getting Up by Kelly Roper
Here’s one last poem that 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.
More ideas for poetry and readings
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