The symbolism of death and butterflies isn’t surprising. Out of all animals in the animal kingdom, the butterfly’s developmental process is quite unique, and they are incredibly beautiful.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Why Do People Associate Butterflies With Death?
- Funeral Poems About Butterflies
- Other Poems About Butterflies and Death
Some people connect butterflies with their deceased loved ones. In fact, butterfly imagery has become popular with death-related products. Let’s dive into this phenomenon and learn more about where this connection started. We’ll give you several funeral poems about butterflies you may read for your own enjoyment or at your loved one’s service.
Why Do People Associate Butterflies with Death?
To understand why butterflies are often associated with death, you need to know the basics of their developmental process. A butterfly hatches from an egg and grows into a caterpillar. As a caterpillar, it goes into a chrysalis and undergoes a transformative process. It emerges from its chrysalis as a beautiful winged butterfly.
Many cultures look at this process with deeper meaning and compare a human’s spiritual life with this transformation. To many, the butterfly symbolizes renewal, hope, endurance, resurrection, and the transformation into a better being.
Funeral Poems About Butterflies
Death is a universal topic among poets. There are many poems about death from every time period and language.
Here are some poems about death, butterflies, and the connection between the two. While some poems may speak of the claims that butterflies bring back communication from deceased loved ones, other poems use the insect as a symbol of resurrection and rebirth.
1. “As I Sit In Heaven” by Unknown
This poem doesn’t explicitly mention butterflies, but it talks about deceased loved ones sending back messages to those they left behind. Some like to surmise that those messages come from the flutter of a butterfly’s wings.
2. “I Never Left You” by Unknown
The deceased is the speaker in the poem “I Never Left You” and the speaker tells loved ones, “Death won’t keep us apart, for our love is forever. Just remember me in your heart, and one day we will be together.”
3. “Butterflies From Heaven” by Unknown
This poem begins with an explanation of how butterflies are often connected with the deceased. It begins, “When a butterfly comes to you, I’ve been told that it’s from someone in heaven. A past soul.”
4. “A Butterfly Lights Beside Us” by Aimee Maher
This short poem describes what it feels like to have a butterfly visit. It concludes with the lines, “We wish it could have stayed. We feel so lucky to have seen it.” This may describe how you feel about the deceased person in your life. You feel lucky to have been a part of his life, but you wish he could have stayed.
5. “Don’t Weep at My Grave” by Unknown
This poem surely was written in homage to “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye. This poem is a bit different, though. It includes the line, “I’ve a date with a butterfly to dance in the air.” Many death-related poems like this talk about how to connect with the deceased by spending time in nature.
Other Poems About Butterflies and Death
Memorial butterfly releases are gaining in popularity. You may consider using one of these poems to coincide with the event.
While many of these poems are great, why not take the opportunity to put pen to paper to write your own verse as well, about butterflies and death? Writing your own poetry would allow you to share your exact feelings with others who attend the event instead of relying on what other poets have written.
6. “Messenger of God” by Kathryn Poland
This short poem includes the following lines,
“Oh, Little Butterfly,
Messenger of God,
When I see you in the sky
I cannot help but nod.
You bring me respite
From grief and despair
Every time I see you
Sailing through the air.
You renew my faith
In all God’s wondrous plan,
And I know it’s all in FAITH,
Not in what I understand.”
7. “As You Release This Butterfly” by Jill Haley
This poem was probably written specifically for a memorial butterfly release. You can order envelopes of butterflies online for your event.
8. “Final Flight” by Unknown
Are you looking for another poem explicitly written for a butterfly release? Consider this one. The final stanza reads,
“As you release the butterfly, let me go,
There is something better, God wants us to know,
As the butterfly flutters with peaceful delight,
It represents my heavenly, final flight.”
9. “Miss Me But Let Me Go” by Unknown
You often see this poem written on the back of funeral programs. In it, we are reminded that life goes on, regardless of how sad we are to say goodbye to our loved ones who die.
10. “An American Indian Legend” by Unknown
The American Indian legend that we are referring to begins, “If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it. Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can not reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all.”
Although this is not written like a traditional poem, it does connect the butterfly to the spiritual world. Consider reading this before a butterfly launch.
11. “Butterfly Benediction” by Richard D. Breen
A benediction is a blessing. It is often said at the end of a Christian religious service. This benediction is butterfly themed. It says, “May the morning sun caress you, the rains of change refresh you, and the gentle breeze of his spirit lift the wings of your transformation.”
Of course, while this benediction sounds as if we are blessing a butterfly, it is also appropriate to say when someone makes the transition from life on earth to life in heaven.
12. “I Am Always With You” by Linda Rogers
This poem doesn’t mention butterflies specifically, but we are reminded of these delicate, elusive creatures with this line: “Though you can’t see or touch me, I will be near. And if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear. All my love around you, soft and clear.”
13. Butterfly Release Poems by Jacqui Knight
This poet wrote two versions of butterfly release poems. One is appropriate for releasing butterflies in the spring and the other during the fall. Both poems celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
14. “The Butterfly Obtains” by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson wrote a great deal about butterflies and bees. While you may be excited to hear this and want to use her poetry for your loved one’s funeral, most of the poems aren’t connected to death, rebirth, or any other spiritual message. If you are looking for a poem that describes butterflies as merely beautiful, free creatures in nature, turn to Emily Dickinson.
15. “The Butterfly Upon the Sky” by Emily Dickinson
A common theme in Emily Dickinson’s butterfly poems is how the creatures are free from grief and pain that comes with living. You may consider using this butterfly poem if you feel that death released your loved one from troubles associated with being on earth.
Consider a Butterfly Launch to Celebrate a Loved One’s Life
A butterfly launch is a beautiful way to say goodbye to a loved one. Before you do so, make sure it can be done without harm to the native butterfly population.
There are plenty of other eco-friendly tribute options. Consider planting a memorial garden full of vegetables and share your bounty with others who appreciate local produce. Blow bubbles at a ceremony and say a prayer as they float toward heaven. Invite family and friends to gather by a stream or a river and bring local flowers. As you say goodbye, throw the stems or buds into the flowing water. You could also purchase seed paper and give it out to the people attending the funeral. Ask them to plant the paper in honor of your loved one.
Many of these acts can accompany the scattering of your loved one’s cremains in nature. They are lovely ways to say goodbye and would appeal to butterfly lovers everywhere.
If you're looking for more on death, read our guides on dreams about death and how to talk to kids about death.
- Clifford, Garth C. “Butterfly Symbolism and Meaning.” World Birds: Joy of Nature. 23 July 2020. www.worldbirds.org/butterfly-symbolism/