20+ Thank You Poems for a Funeral or Memorial Service

Updated

Finding the right poem to say thank you to a loved one that has died is a unique experience that many may not want to experience. If you are writing a eulogy or a speech to share at a funeral or memorial service, the pressure to write a good and emotive piece is likely high, coupled with your grief. Choosing a poem can help relieve some of that stress. Not all thank you poems may be winners, but you can find a few that get close.

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Short or long, choosing poetry to honor your loved one will never be easy. Even funeral programs, ‘thank you’ cards, and eulogies tend to require different poems varying in length and message. If you’re starting on your search, here are some poems to consider in helping you strike the right tone in your eulogy or speech.

Funeral Thank You Poems for a Eulogy or Speech

Whether you’re seeking a funeral poem for a pet or person, there are a few below that may fit your needs. Keep in mind that while many of them are long, all you need to do is select a short passage to include in your eulogy or speech.

1. "A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Creation" by George Appleton

Appleton's poem offers praise to God for the creation of the great, humorous, working, and friendly animals of the world. It'd be an appropriate prayer for a speech or eulogy for your beloved pet, no matter if they had fur or feathers--or even a loved one who had a sixth sense for critters.

2. "How Can I Repay You" by Tikhon of Zadonsk

Tikhon was a surrealist poet and 18th century Russian Orthodox Bishop revered for his spiritual writing. His poem, "How Can I Repay You," sounds quite intimate from the first line, but the balance of the poem is aplomb with reverence and love for the sacrifices of Jesus.

3. "Prayer and Thanksgiving" by Francis of Assisi

Assisi's poem is quite lengthy for a card or program, but may work well when given as part of a funeral thank you speech. If you’re familiar with other popular and often quoted scriptures, "Prayer and Thanksgiving" is similar to John 3:16. Both explain how God gave his only son to save the world's sinners, but Assisi's poem spares no words to describe this sacrifice.

4. "To My Dear and Loving Husband" by Anne Bradstreet

"To My Dear and Loving Husband" is written by a doting wife to her husband. Bradstreet writes that confirms that their love is incomparable to riches—she must attend to it daily. She explains that she does this, so "…That when we live no more, we may live ever." 

5. "My Thanks" by John Greenleaf Whittier

This poem is suitable for either a eulogy or a speech for a dear friend. Whitter praises his companion for accepting all regardless of their misdeeds seen here in the following lines:

Not blind to faults and follies, thou
Hast never failed the good to see,
Nor judged by one unseemly bough
The upward-struggling tree.

6. "Thanks" by Henrik Ibsen

Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Ibsen was considered to be one of the finest writers in the late 19th century. In “Thanks,” Ibsen exposes the layers of friendship that often go overlooked but keep them alive. Kind companions support you in sorrow and joy, open their homes when you are in need, revel in your stories, and best, share the intimacies of humanness. 

7. "Our Prayer of Thanks" by Carl Sandburg

Sandburg’s poem of gratitude seems a bit obscure for a funeral when you first read it. Upon the second read, you’ll begin to understand his meaning behind God’s bidding or control. Pick and choose the lines that connect with you the most and can paint a picture of thanks.

8. "Modern Love XLI: How Many a Thing" by George Meredith

People are commonly misjudged or misunderstood by those who are impatient or quick to judge. Meredith's poem explores humanity's trait to discard the gem before them only to find beauty when another possesses it.

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Funeral Poems for the Inside of a Thank You Card

Unless you have some 'thank you' cards professionally printed, stick to some short and sweet poems so that your hand doesn’t tire quickly. You may also want to pluck some appropriate passages from a longer one to share your heartfelt thanks. Below offer some examples from both.

9. "You’ve Stuck by My Side" by Unknown Author

“You have happily stuck by me
during times I've had it rough.

For this and other kindnesses,
I can't thank you enough!”

10. "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

"Pied Beauty" is about having gratitude for things most often overlooked on a rural horizon. It'll work well in a printed funeral thank you cards, especially if you'd like to convey that there's still so much to enjoy and life to live.

11. "Christian Appreciation Poem" by M.S. Lowndes

Check out the short and simple "Christian Appreciation Poem'' if you're writing a poem on behalf of you and your family. It is worth noting that it goes the extra step of incorporating your faith into the poem. Not only does it express love and gratitude, but it also honors the bond you have with them. 

12. "Wild Gratitude" by Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch's entire poem is beautiful. This collection of words about the everyday life of a cat owner strikes a chord of thanks for the simple happiness of watching said cats. It's in the five final lines however, where you'll discover what most cat lovers have come to understand as truth. Cats are notorious for their ability to find comfort regardless of what's happening around them. 

13. "Thank You for Your Kindness" by Unknown Author

“Thank you for your kindness, 
it meant so much to me.
You care so much about me, 
this is clear to see.
When I think of special,
I always think of you,
And the lovely gifts you give,
and the thoughtful things you do…”

14. "Beauty of Our Friendship" by Helen Steiner Rice

Rice describes true friendship as something that can't be weighed against possessions because its meaning is far greater than 'gold and riches.' She continues on by noting that love and a helping hand are more valuable, especially in times of great grief.

15. "Written in a Little Lady’s Little Album" by Frederick William Faber

Faber's poem works well for a "thank you" card not just because it's short. In fact, the poem doesn’t use a lot of words to express the grand feeling of how much the littlest efforts have the most significant impacts.

“Small things are best;
Grief and unrest
To rank and wealth are given;
But little things
On little wings
Bear little souls to heaven.”

Thank You Poems for a Funeral Program

The poems below recognize that we as humans tend to live according to what is most visible or most accessible. With these poems, you can also help to give thanks and praise the people that lived their lives outside of the box and were recognized for doing so.

16. "Gratitude" by Mary Oliver

One of Oliver's most famous poems is for those inspired by nature and appreciation for its stillness, whether on a walk or out fishing. The ways that she describes even the smallest moments evoke a connectedness with a similar childlike curiosity.

17. "Thanksgiving" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Following Oliver's poem above, you'll note that Wilcox also derives much from the natural world. But her approach to gratitude is different. She remarks of the veiled, distracting bits of life that overshadow the beauty that's been there all along.

18. "I am Nothing" by Thomas à Kempis

With this first line, "I will presume to speak to you, My Lord, though I am mere dust and ashes," Thomas à Kempis shares his feelings of worship and awe for a higher power, which can be another way of sharing gratitude for someone who made a big impact in your life. Throughout the rest of the poem, you'll see and hear the tone of worship and gratitude continues alongside one of hope. 

19. "Sonnet: I Thank You" by Henry Timrod

Although Timrod's poem is for a dear friend, many of the guests would recognize this same love for a friend and the value of friendship. No matter your relation to them, any relationship requires the same dedication as a devoted companion or confidante.

20. "Gratitude" by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

In this short poem, Blunt states that the friendship of God is enough that even “a sick soul can afford.” With this poem, you could lend your gratitude and thanks to someone who also gave you some help, and much like Blunt writes, was medicine and comfort for the soul.

21. "Gratitude" by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Was your loved one always ready with the perfect advice? Did they offer advice and supportive words that helped you out? Montgomery's poem "Gratitude," helps to explain how those little tidbits of insight can fill an empty cup.

22. "If" by Rudyard Kipling

The final stanza of this poem of courage can be a great addition to a funeral program. In it, Kipling recognizes that having strength or living a good life requires action and courage.

Poetry for Loved Ones

Every normal act of daily life is challenging when you’ve just lost a loved one, which makes planning for their funeral or memorial service difficult. If you are unable to write your own words that highlight the way a deceased loved one helped to make your life and the lives around them richer, don’t worry.

Finding the right poem to say thank you can make a big difference for everyone to mourn and give gratitude.


Sources

  1. Bradstreet, Anne. “To My Dear and Loving Husband.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, 1981, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43706/to-my-dear-and-loving-husband 
  2. Ibsen, Henrik. “Thanks.” Poetry Archive, Poetry Archive, 1871, www.poetry-archive.com/i/thanks.html
  3. Karlinsky, Simon. “Surrealism in Twentieth-Century Russian Poetry: Churilin, Zabolotsky, Poplavsky.” Freedom from Violence and Lies: Essays on Russian Poetry and Music, Academic Studies Press, June 2013, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1zxsk34.23.
  4. Meridith, George. “Modern Love XLI: How Many A Thing.” Poem Hunter, www.poemhunter.com/poem/modern-love-xli-how-many-a-thing/
  5. Sandburg, Carl. “Our Prayer of Thanks.” Bartleby.com, Bartleby, www.bartleby.com/165/88.html 
  6. Tearle, Oliver. “10 of the Best Thank You Poems.” Interesting Literature, Interesting Literature, interestingliterature.com/2019/06/10-of-the-best-thank-you-poems
  7. Whittier, John Greenleaf. “My Thanks.” Poem Hunter, www.poemhunter.com/poem/my-thanks-3
  8. “A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Creation by George Appleton.” Finding Solace, Finding Solace, www.findingsolace.org/a-prayer-of-thanksgiving-for-creation-by-george-appleton/
  9. “Thank You Poems.” Thank-You-Notes.com, www.thank-you-notes.com/thank-you-poems.html
  10. Poem Hunter, www.poemhunter.com/
  11. Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org
  12. Poetry Soup, www.poetrysoup.com/

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