Any type of pet can be a beloved companion and when a pet fish dies, you might lay your pet to rest by arranging a memorial or funeral service with a few poems.
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Funerals for pets give us the chance to say goodbye to dear friends just as we would if a human friend had passed. The specific details of these services can also have a lot in common with traditional funerals.
For example, perhaps you want to read a poem or two when memorializing your fish. If so, consider the following options. They’re all ideal poems for a fish funeral.
Happy or Uplifting Poems for Your Pet Fish’s Funeral
Funeral poems don’t necessarily need to be sad. For example, these are all relatively uplifting selections that nevertheless make for strong fish funeral poems.
1. "The Rainbow Bridge" by Unknown
Although several sources attribute this well-known pet loss poem to Paul C. Dahm, a grief counselor, there’s no absolute consensus regarding its authorship.
Either way, it remains one of the most popular pet funeral poems, painting a picture of a happy afterlife on the other side of the “Rainbow Bridge,” to which pets travel when they die. Once there, they wait to one day reunite with their owners.
Granted, the imagery of the original version of this poem focuses more on describing animals that walk on four legs. That said, its themes can still apply to a pet fish.
Many people also modify the poem’s content based on the type of animal they memorialize. You can search online for a version of the poem that’s more appropriate for a fish funeral or change the content yourself.
2. “Your Catfish Friend” by Richard Brautigan
While this poem likely has multiple layers of metaphorical and symbolic meaning, the fact that it sweetly describes the idea of a friendship forming between a person and a catfish could make it a perfect choice to recite at the funeral of a pet fish. Its ending is slightly sad, arguably suggesting a missed opportunity for a person and a catfish to actually forge a bond, but in general, it’s a playful selection that can add some levity to what might otherwise be a sad occasion.
3. “Sado Island” by Matsuo Basho
A gorgeous poem about the ocean can be a fitting tribute to a pet fish, as many take comfort in the idea that when a pet fish dies, it has metaphorically “returned” to its home at sea.
A poem also doesn’t need to be very long to capture strong emotions. For instance, this gentle but striking haiku expresses powerful feelings in just a few words.
You might also choose a haiku for basic practical reasons. Quite simply, the loss of a pet is a painful experience, and you may want to choose a poem you can read quickly before you get too emotional to finish. That’s a factor worth accounting for when making a selection.
4. “Heaven” by Rupert Brooke
This poem technically uses the metaphor of fish imagining life after death to explore how humans do the same. Regardless, because it thoroughly addresses the idea of there being a happy afterlife for fish, it’s also a smart (and fun!) choice for a fish’s funeral.
Like “Your Catfish Friend,” it’s slightly humorous and may put a few smiles on the faces of anyone saying goodbye to your pet fish.
5. “Gold Fish” by Hilda Conkling
This simple poem beautifully describes a fish by highlighting its unique movements. Keep it in mind if you’re merely looking for a poem to celebrate a fish’s striking qualities. These may be the very same qualities you found most noteworthy in your own pet fish.
6. “Fishes in the Brook” by Friedrich Froebel
Early education pioneer Friedrich Froebel wrote this basic rhyme as part of a series of poems describing everyday German family life in simple, child-friendly language. Its cheerful, light, and uncomplicated nature may be precisely what you’re looking for in a fish funeral poem.
It’s also a poem you might consider if a child wants to read at the service.
7. “The Cup of Ocean” by Amos Russel Wells
“The Cup of Ocean” describes how even a small cup of seawater can, in some magical or mystical way, contain all the secrets and wonder of the ocean’s depths. A fish can do the same, reminding us of a world beyond our grasp. That may be a quality you want to touch on when deciding which poem to read at your fish’s funeral.
8. "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop
This classic poem about a fish may not be the ideal fish funeral poem for everyone’s tastes, as it describes someone catching a fish, which may seem at odds with the feelings you’d have for a pet.
However, as the poem progresses, the speaker continues to marvel at the fish’s beauty, before eventually deciding to release it back into the water. This could serve as a metaphor for letting go of a pet fish after it dies.
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Sad Poems to Read at a Fish’s Funeral
You don’t always need to bury your feelings and focus solely on positive emotions when planning a memorial service, whether it’s for a fish, person, or any other special companion. If you’d rather cope with your loss by reading a sad fish funeral poem, these are a few options to consider.
9. "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold
Poems about the ocean fit a fish’s memorial well. The poem beautifully describes both the ocean and human sadness and evokes the emotions you might feel when saying goodbye to a pet fish.
10. “In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver
Because this poem doesn’t specifically mention fish, it can be a fitting choice for any pet funeral. It sadly explains how learning to love “what is mortal” and accept that those we love will one day leave us is a universal experience.
11. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost
This is another classic funeral poem that’s particularly ideal for a fish’s funeral, as it describes nature and mourns the loss of something gold, which is of course the color of many fish scales.
12. “The Chambered Nautilus” by Oliver Wendell Holmes
“The Chambered Nautilus” is among the most famous poems about sea creatures ever written. It also uses metaphors to discuss how it’s necessary for the human soul to grow throughout life, even if that sometimes requires coping with painful experiences. That’s the type of sad yet reassuring message that some people need to hear when mourning the loss of a pet.
13. “Grey Rocks, And Greyer Sea” by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
“Grey Rocks, And Greyer Sea” clearly and hauntingly describes standing by the sea and reflecting on the loss of someone who you will never see again. It’s a painfully honest exploration of the emotions we struggle with after the death of anyone who played an important role in our lives, even a pet.
14. “By the Sea” by Christina Rossetti
“By the Sea” is another movingly sad poem for a fish’s funeral. It focuses on the idea that beneath the sea, beautiful fish and nature live but go unseen, only to eventually die without noticing them.
True, you likely noticed and appreciated your fish’s beauty when it was alive, but you also might feel it didn’t live long enough for others to truly appreciate it as well. Consider reading this poem at your fish’s service if you can relate to those emotions.
15. "Sea Calm" by Langston Hughes
This delicately sad poem describes “How strangely still the water is today” and laments “it is not good for water to be so still that way.”
These words may resonate with you if your fish’s absence is all the more noticeable when you stop to consider how still the water in their tank or pond is now that they’re gone.
Fish Funeral Poems: Memorializing a Magical Friend
From choosing the right fish casket to considering songs you might play, planning a funeral service for a beloved pet fish can involve many tasks and steps. Hopefully, this list of fish funeral poems has at least made one of those tasks much easier to complete.