Poetry is one of the most emotional forms of literature. With just a few words, a poem depicts specific emotions, giving people a way to share their feelings with others. Sometimes, no words come to mind that can accurately convey the death of a beloved aunt.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Uplifting Funeral Poems for Your Aunt
- Sad Funeral Poems for Your Aunt
- Religious Funeral Poems for Your Aunt
But a poem can help when you’re at a loss for words--and can sometimes be a succinct and beautiful way to memorialize your aunt at a funeral. If you’re trying to brainstorm a eulogy for an aunt or want funeral quotes for a speech, consider some poems to share your love.
COVID-19 tip: If you're officiating a virtual funeral using a service like GatheringUs, you can still share your poems with your online guests. Coordinate with your planning team, make sure you have the right mics and speakers, and send online guests digital funeral programs with the full poems.
Share your final wishes, just in case.
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Uplifting Funeral Poems for Your Aunt
Funeral poems can highlight the good memories you have with your aunt, too.
1. "Aunties” by Kevin Young
Young writes this poem as he reflects back on his childhood. Tiny details bring this poem to life. He writes about the unique traditions that make aunts so treasured as a guiding light, and the strong women who helped to raise a generation of children.
This poem is an ode to everyday life, and how your aunt’s heart shone even in the things she did.
2. "The Aunts” by Joyce Sutphen
Sutphen spent her childhood on a Minnesota farm. That means her poems are tinged with rural imagery. She had many aunts, each one different in her own way.
Sutphen remembers how they would get together, soft conversation filling the air. Their words embrace Sutphen to this day.
3. "Aunt Helen” by T.S. Eliot
T.S. Eliot is known as a giant of American literature. Even Eliot, though, took the time to memorialize his aunt. This tongue-in-cheek poem is a reminder of how life goes on, even after a loss. The poem is told from an omniscient point of view.
This allows Eliot to show how the silence in heaven mirrors the silence in his aunt’s house and also how his aunt still left her mark in the silence.
4. "Two Aunts” by Thomas James
James reminisces over his aunts when he feels homesick. It’s a love letter to a time that’s long gone, when his aunts lived on a South Dakota farm in the late 1800s. James remembers how different they were, wearing bustles and riding horses with wild abandon, his aunts had become symbols of a zest for life and rebellion.
What James remembers, though, is the hunger for more. They wanted something else besides a farm life. James knows because he feels the same longing hunger.
5. "Old Love” by Pat Mora
Grief changes everything. Mora tells this poem as he watches grief affect his uncle. Upon his aunt’s death, his uncle feels adrift.
His uncle remembers with great sadness the new year’s celebration where his wife felt the tug of mortality more than the celebration of a new year.
6. "Flounder” by Natasha Trethewey
Trethewey’s poem is dedicated to her Aunt Sugar, who chewed tobacco and taught her niece to fish.
This poem is a reminder of the ordinary things for her and her Aunt Sugar. It was an ordinary day for Aunt Sugar and young Natasha. But it’s still the memory that sticks out in the poet’s mind, years later.
7. "Aunt Haint” by Ed Roberson
The first section of this poem commemorates how his aunt held their family together. Roberson talks about indecision, and how there are so many places in the world filled with it.
From four-way intersections to transfer stops, the world is an indecisive place. Roberson remembers how his aunt protested this. She would insist on choice, action. To this day, that quality is what Roberson remembers most about his aunt.
8. "Aunt Joe Learns to Keep Her Balance” by Jeanne Murray Walker
Walker wrote many poems about her aunt. They’re collected in a series of ‘Aunt Joe’ poems.
Any of them would be a great choice for funeral poems. This one is about the helter-skelter life in a small-town community. Young Jeanne watches, mesmerized, as her aunt learns to ride a bicycle. It’s a mystery to her, how her aunt knows to keep her balance.
9. "Aunt Sue’s Stories” by Langston Hughes
Stories keep families and cultures stitched together. Some people are story-keepers and the ones that share family tales to pass on to a new generation.
These preserve a sense of religion, culture, and family. Hughes’ poem is about his aunt, someone who told stories about slavery and freedom and what it was like.
10. "Aunt Julia” by Norman MacCaig
Some people have expectations of what aunts should look like. MacCaig’s aunt fits none of those standards, as she spun wool, wore men’s boots, and spoke Gaelic.
To this day, that is MacCaig’s strongest memory. He still recalls how his Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic, loud and fast.
Sad Funeral Poems for Your Aunt
It can be hard to cope with the loss of someone who was gone too soon.
11. "Aunt Jenny” by William Scammell
Scammell’s aunt died of illness. She spent a lot of time bedridden, prior to her passing. However bedridden, this time gave Scammel the opportunity to learn more about her life and the choices she made.
From the Depression to World War II, she lived through challenging times.
12. "Aunt Mabel” by Don Geiger
Geiger softly reminisces about how much his aunt was loved. He remembers how she would always give candy to his son. Even now, the memory of her generosity is heartwarming.
13. “Aunt Maria and the Gourds” by Donald Davidson
Davidson remembers an aunt long gone. Her memories capture what the Civil War was like.
14. "For Aunt Lizzy” by William Wilborn
Sometimes, you can only associate a place with a person you love. Wilborn tries to divorce memories of her hometown from his aunt. This poem memorializes simple times. From dusty courthouses to boys on bicycles, Wilborn paints a vivid image of her town.
15. "Lines for an Aunt” by George Scarbrough
Scarbrough’s poem is for an aunt who was sometimes confused, sometimes frustrating, but always loving. She was determined and insightful. Both qualities are important to Scarbrough.
16. "Old Aunt” by Fiske Conant
Watching a relative lose their memory is challenging. Sometimes, they don’t remember your name or identity. At other times, they mistake you for someone else. Conant’s poem describes a sudden interaction and the endurance of sisterhood.
17. "The Visits of My Aunt” by John Woods
Childhood memories of relatives visiting are often vivid. Woods’ aunt was like a woman from another planet. She brought excitement, adventure, and new experiences with her.
18. "Ladders” by Elizabeth Alexander
Sometimes, it’s hard to recognize an old relative. It’s even harder when they’re confused about you. This can be a sad, challenging experience for everyone involved.
19. "Moving Things” by W.S. Di Piero
Di Piero’s poem was meant to preserve his aunt in verse forever. He remembers what everyone else does. Her political posters, her chairs...he remembers those. But he also remembers how much she loved others and shared it.
20. "To Auntie” by Robert Louis Stevenson
An aunt can fill an irreplaceable spot in your life. You might even wonder how other people got on without her.
Religious Funeral Poems for Your Aunt
Religious poems are great nods to your aunt’s personal beliefs and traditions.
21. "Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne
Death is often personified as the big bad wolf. Donne believes this shouldn’t be the case. In accordance with the Christian worldview, though, he looks forward to eternal life.
22. "Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson
Many of Emily Dickinson’s poems revolve around death. She muses on it often in her works. As a result, she is able to easily personify him. In her poem, Dickison is in too much of a rush to stop for death. She’s living her life, too busy to think about those things.
Death, instead, stops for her. He picks her up in a carriage, and they drive through the land of the living. They’re alone in the carriage, except for immortality taking up a seat. This is a reflection on how everything slows after death. He isn’t in a hurry to take Dickinson where she’s going, and Dickinson has finally slowed down. At the end of the poem, Dickinson realizes she has been riding in Death’s carriage for eternities.
23. "Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye
In many religious traditions, people believe that the body doesn’t house the soul after death. Thus, the body is left behind. It’s like a butterfly abandoning a cocoon. This poem takes this concept a step farther, though. Frye asks that her relatives don’t cry at her grave.
She believes this is pointless because she isn’t there. Instead, she’s become a part of the natural world around them. She’s present when her family looks at the glimmering snow, or at birds in flight. Frye takes it a step further and states that she never died at all. She just became part of the natural world.
24. "And Death Shall Have No Dominion” by Dylan Thomas
The title of Thomas’ poem is taken directly from the Bible. In Jewish and Christian traditions there’s the promise of an afterlife. In this afterlife, death will have no power. Eternal life rules forever. Thomas imagines a similar afterlife with powerful imagery. Everyone will be equal, set on the same footing. And no matter what disasters occur, they can always be undone.
Dylan Thomas hopes for a future without pain. It’s a world where those who drown in the sea resurrect again. It’s also a world where lovers may be lost, but love is eternally strong. This is a beautiful version of a future world to paint into a eulogy or memorial service.
25. "She Shall Be Praised” from Proverbs 31
This is one of the most famous passages in the entire Bible. It’s used on Mother’s Day, in women’s Bible studies, and in religious cards. It’s a celebration of the ‘ideal woman,’ one who is virtuous and close to everyone’s heart. This is a great way to pay homage to one of the best people you’ve ever known.
One of the best parts of this chapter is that it encapsulates many different qualities. Within it, this virtuous woman’s focus is on strength and honor. They are integral parts of her personality. With this sturdy backbone, she’s able to deliver wisdom and kindness to everyone she meets. Very few people can meet the standard set by only a few verses! Some of the best aunts can, though, and they deserve to be commemorated.
Memorializing an Aunt
From funeral eulogies to quotes, finding the perfect words can be a challenge. But hopefully these poets can help you say exactly what you’re feeling.
If you're looking for more ways to reflect on your aunt's life, check out our guide on how to say "happy birthday in heaven", how to acknowledge a death anniversary, and how to write a commemorative speech.