20 Short ‘In Loving Memory’ Poems for a Memorial Service

Updated

There are a lot of details that go into planning a memorial service for a loved one, and you probably want everything to be perfect. You may want to choose the best casket floral spray, his or her favorite songs, and your loved one’s wardrobe with care. You do all of these chores in loving memory of the deceased. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

One of the other details that you shouldn’t overlook is choosing which poem you would like to share at your loved one’s funeral. Of course, having a poem read at a funeral isn’t a requirement, but reading one at a service or having one printed in the program adds a layer of emotional depth to the gathering. 

Here are some “in loving memory poems” you may consider using for your loved one’s memorial service. 

‘In Loving Memory’ Poems for Parents or Grandparents

Life feels different after you lose your parents and grandparents. Some describe feeling untethered. Others mourn the loss of traditions that often die away when a patriarch or matriarch dies. Here are some poems that celebrate parents and grandparents. 

1. “Your Clothes” by Judith Kroll

Anyone who has lost a mother knows the surreal feeling that comes with emptying your mother’s closet. This poem describes this task and the emotion behind it. 

2. “Little Father” by Li-Young Lee

This poem is for those who are comfortable with more complex imagery. This isn’t a simple funeral poem, but sometimes grief is too deep and complex to describe in a few rhyming couplets.

3. “Remember” by Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti’s words say what a deceased person would say from the grave if he could. The words act as a reminder to survivors that life has to go on even after a loved one dies. The last two lines state: “Better by far you should forget and smile, than that you should remember and be sad.”

4. “You Can Only Have One Mother” Irish Funeral Prayer

You know that this poem is lyrical and emotional based on the fact that it is labeled an “Irish Funeral Prayer.” This poem ends with these words: “Sweet Jesus, take this message,

To our dear mother up above; Tell her how we miss her and give her all our love.”

5. “To My Father” Georgia Harkness

The poet Georgia Harkness uses the metaphor of a falling pine tree to describe the death of her father. Even though what seemed powerful is gone, the poem says, “To know this life was good. It left its mark on me. Its work stands fast.”

ยป MORE: How do you host a virtual or hybrid funeral? Start here

 

‘In Loving Memory’ Poems for Siblings

Are you attempting to write a eulogy for your brother or sister who recently died? Consider using one of these poems. 

6. “sisters” by Lucille Clifton

This poem celebrates the bond that sisters who grew up together have. The poem describes the experiences they shared in their youth as well as the relationship they continued to have as adults. 

7. “Goblin Market” by Chistina Rossetti

This poem is rather lengthy, but you can share an excerpt from it at your sister’s funeral. Consider sharing the stanza that begins, “There is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather.”

8. “Afterglow” by Helen Lowrie Marshall

If you know that your sibling would want to be remembered with happiness, consider reading “Afterglow” at the funeral.

9. “Miss Me But Let Me Go” by Unknown Author

This poem describes death as an opportunity for the soul to be set free. If your brother or sister suffered from a long illness, this might be the perfect poem to share at the funeral.

10. “God’s Garden” by Melissa Shreve

This lovely poem would be the perfect one to share for a sibling who loved gardening or the outdoors. The last two lines speak of the grief one feels with losing a family member. “It broke our hearts to lose you but you didn’t go alone. For part of us went with you the day God called you home.”

‘In Loving Memory’ Poems for Children, Sons, or Daughters

There’s no feeling of devastation equal to losing a child. Here are some poems that can accurately describe the pain of losing a child. 

11. “Garden of Stone” by Michael Kaner

When you lose a child, it is common to think about unfulfilled wishes and dreams. You mourn the loss of your child’s life and at the same time realizing that he or she will never go to college, get married, or have a family.

12. “A Childless Father” by Unknown Author

Do you feel sad, shaken, helpless, and angry? If you recently lost a child, you probably feel complex emotions. This poem beautifully articulates the grief that comes from losing a child.

13. “The Dying Child” by John Clare

Did your child die during the cold winter months? You may consider sharing this poem at the funeral. 

14. “An Arbor” by Linda Gregerson

“An Arbor” is a complex poem about the accidental death of a child. Even though this poem may not appeal to the masses, it speaks about the futility of trying to figure out why bad things happen in life. Sometimes there are no answers to the questions humans naturally ask.

15. “Endings” by Peggy Allguire

As a mother stares at a photo of herself and her child, she thinks of all the things that her child will never experience. And even though she knows that she must go on with life, she promises to never forget her precious infant.

‘In Loving Memory’ Poems for Partners or Spouses

You may be grieving the loss of a spouse or partner. Here are some poems that describe what it’s like to lose someone extremely close to you. 

16. “Music, When Soft Voices Die” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

In this poem, Percy Bysshe Shelley describes the lasting effects of a living thing. Just as you can still enjoy the sweet scent of a flower that was recently removed from a room, you can still experience love after someone dies.

17. “I Loved Her Like the Leaves” by Kakinomoto Hitomaro

While some funeral quotes or poems are hopeful or even joyful in tone, this one speaks the raw truth that many feel when losing a spouse. The last two lines read: “I grieve, yet know no remedy: I pine, yet have no way to meet her.”

18. “Funeral Blues” by W.H. Auden

This poem was read in the film “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” In it, W.H. Auden describes how hard it is to understand that normal life continues even after the death of a loved one. 

19. “Gone From My Sight” by Henry Van Dyke

Henry Van Dyke describes death beautifully in this poem. In it, he compares death to watching a beautiful ship sailing off into the horizon. The vessel is not “gone,” even if others say that it may be. The ship can merely not be seen anymore. 

20. “Death Is Nothing at All” by Henry Scott-Holland

One of the stages of grief is denial. Denial is one way your brain copes with trauma. In this poem, “Death is Nothing at All,” the speaker is sure that his lover is not really gone. 

Find Your Favorite Poem

You’ve heard the proverb, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Not every poem on this list will speak to every person who is grieving.

What are your favorite funeral poems? Which one would you like to have read at your funeral?

Incorporate lines of these poems into keepsakes to remember your loved one by, such as "in loving memory" car and window decals or shadow boxes.

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.