If you find yourself in the heartbreaking position of having to plan a funeral for your son or son-in-law, here are some resources to help you. We’ve uncovered funeral poems that you may consider using for the eulogy, service, or funeral program.
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You can incorporate poetry whether your funeral is in person or virtual. If you host a virtual or hybrid funeral for your son, we recommend using a service like GatheringUs that can help with details like poetry, readings, and other presentations.
Funeral Poems for a Son from Mom
Our deepest condolences if you recently lost your son. Here are some funeral poems you may find helpful when planning your son’s services. We tried to find poetry in a variety of styles to appeal to many types of people.
Some make religious references, while others do not. Some speak about the death of an adult son, while others are about losing an infant or child.
1. “No More” by Mary Jo Bang
This beautifully written poem describes the poignant moment of death. One heartfelt stanza reads, “The quilt edge clasped in the hand goes on and on and on. Rumination is this. You a child then a man, now a feather.”
2. "Stillbirth” by Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Few poems describe the grief that comes with having a stillborn child. Even though the infant in this poem is female, you may connect with the speaker’s thoughts and feelings described in this poem.
3. “On My First Son” by Ben Jonson
Even though the poet is a man, this poem could be read from a mother’s perspective. It begins, “Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy.” Ben Jonson wrote at the same time as William Shakespeare. Even though his work still survives today, he points out in his poem that his son was his most significant contribution to the world.
4. “Women’s Dance Song” adapted by Brian Swann
This is a Native American song by the Temecula people. It describes the natural signs that occur “when death approaches.” Even though modern audiences may not connect with the “signs,” this poem/song acts as a reminder that death is a great unifier. Our ancestors felt the myriad of emotions that come with grief, and so will our great-great-grandchildren.
5. “Shall We Gather at the River?” by Robert Lowry
This sacred song describes the happy day when all believers will meet in heaven. The refrain reads, “Yes, we’ll gather at the river; the beautiful, beautiful river. Gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God.” Some mothers may feel comforted, knowing they will reconnect with their sons someday in the afterlife.
Funeral Poems for a Son From Dad
Rely on the words of lyricists and poets for some comfort when going through a devastating experience. Here are some funeral poems for dads who have lost sons. Many of these examples were written by fathers who had this unfortunate experience.
Even though most people don’t include poems when writing an obituary for a son, you may want to read some before starting the writing process.
6. “From Choir Practice” by Forrest Hamer
The poet writes a note to his reader at the beginning of the poem, “From Choir Practice.” It reads, “Thomas A. Dorsey wrote the song, ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ in 1932, just after his wife and newborn son had died.” The poem reflects upon the type of person who praises God amid such devastation.
7. “We Assume: On the Death of Our Son, Reuben Masai Harper” by Michael S. Harper
Michael S. Harper wrote about his own experience of losing an infant son in this poem. The child lived for 28 days, and the poet/speaker describes how a woman tried to console him by saying that his son was with an angel now, “Gone ahead to pray for our family.”
8. “Written on the Due Date of a Son Never Born” by David Wojahn
In this poem, the speaker watches his wife work in the garden early in the morning on June 21. The summer solstice was supposed to have been the due date for their son, and the couple faces the day with grief and dread. Within moments the speaker describes that the woman is already “breaking down, hose flung to the sidewalk.”
9. “A Memorial: Son Bret” by William Stafford
Regret is often linked to grief. This poem describes how a father knows that something is bothering his son, but his son holds back his feelings. The father/speaker of the poem regrets that his son never disclosed his troubles to him. One line reads, “You carried it, my boy, so brave, so far.”
10. “Abiku” by Afaa Michael Weaver
This poem is dedicated to Michael S. Weaver, Jr. Like the previous poem, this poem speaks about regrets as the speaker asks himself several “What if?” questions regarding the death of his son. The final lines say the only gifts he was able to give his son were 10 months of life and a name engraved in bronze in the earth.
Funeral Poems for a Son-in-Law
It’s hard to find poems about sons-in-law. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of appropriate poems to use at your son-in-law’s funeral. Here are some you may consider using.
11. “Psalm 23”
The words in Psalms is very lyrical. Even though you may not think about this passage as a poem, you can certainly treat it that way. This often referred to passage begins, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
12. “Remember” by Christina Rossetti
This famous funeral poem is written from the perspective of the deceased. He begs to be remembered, but only with happy thoughts. He does not want anyone to cry over his death. If this attitude describes what your son-in-law would have believed, consider using this poem at his funeral.
13. “Never More Will the Wind” by Hilda Doolittle
In this poem, the speaker regrets the fact that her loved one will never experience nature again. This beautifully written poem begins, “Never will the wind cherish you again, never more will the rain.”
14. “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reminds us to make the most of our short lives in this poem. Longfellow was a famous American poem whose work, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” is still taught in grade schools across the country. You may consider using this poem if your son-in-law wanted a secular funeral service.
15. “Invictus” by William Earnest Henley
This powerful poem describes a commanding person who does not give anyone else credit or blame for his circumstances.
The forceful final lines read, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” Henley wrote “Invictus” during one of his frequent hospital stays. He suffered from tuberculosis and used his time in the hospital to write about his pain as well as the pain of those suffering in beds around him.
How Poetry Can Help
Most of these poems would be appropriate choices to use at a funeral service. You could have a sibling, aunt, cousin, or officiant read one of these poems, or you might have the strength to do it yourself. You may also find some of these poems helpful if you are writing your child’s eulogy.
You may also want to use these poems during your quiet time as you reflect on the death of your son or son-in-law. Words are important, but obviously, they can’t make all the hurt go away. It’s sometimes helpful to read what others have written when they’ve gone through a similar experience.
Finally, you may use these poems as examples and models to help you write about your own unique thoughts and feelings regarding the death of your loved one. Grief looks different for each individual. Perhaps writing about your own experiences will enable you to process your emotions in a constructive way.