Poetry has been used to bring rhythm and beauty to human emotions and ideas for years. Poems can make us laugh out loud or bring tears to our eyes. Poems can be whimsical creations or meditative thoughts. Funeral poems, in particular, can help during the healing process. Poetry can be one thing or many things, and we all absorb it in our own unique way.
Losing a loved one is an overwhelming experience and those who are grieving should know that there can be comfort in poetry. There are countless funeral poems lovingly written by poets that help express feelings of grief, loss, and sadness.
Here are five funeral poems that can bring you peace and support you in the journey of grief. If you find solace and inspiration in these funeral poems, you may find comfort in crafting your own stanzas about loss or reading memorable, sometimes poetic last words from some of the world’s most famous artists, statesmen, and entrepreneurs.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sun on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there.
I did not die.
– Mary Elizabeth Frye
Mary Elizabeth Frye (1905-2004) was an American housewife and florist who originally composed this famous poem on a brown paper shopping bag.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273), more popularly known as Rumi, was a Persian poet whose poems have been shared across borders for centuries. His works have been widely translated, and he is described as the “best selling poet” in the US.
I will lend you, for a little time,
A child of mine, He said.
For you to love the while he lives,
And mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be six or seven years,
Or twenty-two or three.
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him for Me?
He’ll bring his charms to gladden you,
And should his stay be brief.
You’ll have his lovely memories,
As solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there,
I want this child to learn.
I’ve looked the wide world over,
In search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes,
I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labour vain.
Nor hate me when I come
To take him home again?
I fancied that I heard them say,
‘Dear Lord, Thy will be done!’
For all the joys Thy child shall bring,
The risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
We’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness, we’ve known,
Forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for him,
Much sooner than we’ve planned.
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand.
– Edgar Guest
Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959) was a prolific English-born American poet whose poems were syndicated in hundreds of newspapers. Unfortunately, he lost two of his children, and A Child of Mine has brought much comfort to parents suffering the tragic loss of a child.
oh antic God
return to me
my mother in her thirties
leaned across the front porch
the huge pillow of her breasts
pressing against the rail
summoning me in for bed.
I am almost the dead woman’s age times two.
I can barely recall her song
the scent of her hands
though her wild hair scratches my dreams
at night. return to me, oh Lord of then
and now, my mother’s calling,
her young voice humming my name.
– Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton (1936-2010) was an American poet and writer who was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. This inspirational poem has comforted many people mourning the loss of a mother.
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.
– Christina Rossetti
Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) was an English poet whose early work often featured meditations on death and loss. She wrote Remember, a classic Victorian poem about grief and mourning in 1849.