23 Poems to Say ‘Goodbye’ for a Funeral or Memorial Service

Updated

We know how difficult it is to say goodbye to someone you love. That’s why many people turn to poets and songwriters to find the best words to capture the situation. 

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Here are some poems you may consider using for your loved one’s funeral or memorial service. Even though we have divided our suggestions into sections, make sure you peruse the entire list. Some may be appropriate for many different relationships.

Goodbye Funeral Poems for a Mother or Grandmother

Did your mom have a favorite poem or song that would be appropriate for her funeral? Funeral poems don’t have to be about death or grief. Instead, you can choose a poem for your mom’s funeral that would remind others of the special person you lost. 

1. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost

This poem may have been a favorite of your mother’s because of its popularity. It describes the inevitability of change and can be found in popular culture.

2. “Put Out to Seed Again” by Michael Ashby

Was your mom or grandma a gardener? This poem is written from the perspective of the deceased who wishes to be “put out to seed again, while the fruits of my earthly labours flourish in the sun and rain.”

3. “God Saw You Getting Tired” by Frances M. Coelho

There are several versions of this famous funeral poem. The beginning reads as follows:

“God saw you getting tired
and a cure was not to be
so He put His arms around you
and whispered, ‘Come to Me.’

“With tearful eyes we watched you
and saw you pass away
and although we love you dearly
we could not make you stay.”

Goodbye Funeral Poems for a Father or Grandfather

Are you looking for goodbye poems for a father or grandfather? Consider these favorites.

4. “A Celtic Blessing” by Unknown

There are many different versions of the Celtic Blessing, but they all are similar in that they offer well-wishes to the reader. It is sometimes referred to as a traditional Gaelic blessing. 

“May the road rise to meet you;
May the wind be always at your back;
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
May the rains fall softly upon your fields.
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”

5. “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

We love this poem that celebrates all the thankless work that dads do to make life more comfortable for their families. If you were lucky enough to have a hard-working dad or grandad, this poem will speak to you. This is one of the most popular funeral poems for a dad

6. “Success” by Bessie Anderson Stanley

This poem reads like a mission statement. If it describes your successful dad or grandfather, consider reading it at his funeral.

Goodbye Funeral Poems for a Sibling

The internet is full of lists of funeral poems, but you might find it challenging to find one appropriate to read at a sibling’s funeral. So here are some to consider.

7. “The Reassurance” by Thomas Gunn

Even though we like this poem, it’s not a piece that you would typically hear at a funeral. The speaker in the poem describes being visited by their deceased loved one in a dream. The last stanza reads:

“How like you to be kind,
Seeking to reassure.
And, yes, how like my mind
To make itself secure.”

8. “A Dirge” by Christina Georgina Rossetti

The speaker in this poem questions why their loved one was born in winter and died in spring. 

The poem ends as follows:

“You should have died at the apples’ dropping,
When the grasshopper comes to trouble,
And the wheat-fields are sodden stubble,
And all winds go sighing
For sweet things dying.”

9. “Our Revels Now Are Ended” by William Shakespeare

This passage is from The Tempest, the last play Shakespeare wrote. It ends as follows:

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

Goodbye Funeral Poems for a Partner or Spouse

Many funeral poems have been written about the death of a lover. Here are some romantic poems that describe grief.

10. “Loss” by Ruth Stone

Please understand that this is not an uplifting funeral poem. Instead, it speaks of the pain of grief. The speaker in the poem describes wandering through their house at night following the death of a loved one.

It concludes:

“I would stare at the cornices, the dull arrangements of furniture.
It all remained the same.
It was not even a painting.
It was objects in space without any aura.
No meaning attached.
Their very existence was a burden to me.
And I would go back to my bed whimpering.”

11. “To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet was one of the first published poets in the American colonies. This romantic poem describes a close relationship between a wife and husband.

It begins,

“If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.”

12. “How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The speaker in this poem describes her enduring love for her partner. It ends,

“I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.”

13. “So, We’ll Go No More a Roving” by Lord Byron

The speaker of this poem laments that they will no longer be able to go “a roving” with their partner by the light of the moon.

The middle stanza explains:

“For the sword outwears its sheath, 
And the soul wears out the breast, 
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.”

Goodbye Funeral Poems for a Child

How do you find the right words to read at a child’s funeral? This is a difficult task. Here are some older poems that you might consider.

14. “Epitaph on a Child” by Thomas Gray

This short, heartbreaking poem reads in its entirety:

“Here, freed from pain, secure from misery, lies
A child, the darling of his parents’ eyes;
A gentler lamb ne’er sported on the plain,
A fairer flower will never bloom again.
Few were the days allotted to his breath;
Now let him sleep in peace his night of death.”

15. “Upon the Child That Died” by Robert Herrick

The heart-wrenching poem reads as follows:

“Here she lies, a pretty bud
Lately made of flesh and blood,
Who as soon fell fast asleep
As her little eyes did peep.
Give her strewings, but not stir
The earth that lightly covers her.”

16. “A Child Loaned” by Edgar Guest

This poem describes being grateful for being allowed to care for a child, even if taken too soon. The poem begins:

“‘I’ll lend you for a little time 
A child of Mine.’ He said.
‘For you to love the while he lives
And mourn for when he’s dead.’”

Funny Goodbye Funeral Poems

“Funny funeral poems” may sound like an oxymoronic statement. However, if you are celebrating the life of a person known for their wit, you might want to choose a non-traditional poem. 

Here are a few that we found for such an occasion:

17. “On a Fly Drinking Out of His Cup” by William Oldys

The speaker in this poem speaks to a fly attempting to drink out of his cup. The speaker reflects on the brevity of both of their lives. 

18. “I Want To Be Buried With My Mobile Phone” by Michael Ashby

Was your loved one forever connected to their phone? Consider this poem.

19. “Carved in Stone” by Beatrice Boyle

Yes, this poem is for a very specific person and situation. However, it may inspire you to write your own version of this funny funeral poem.

“Here lies Bea At a hundred and three
In the place she vowed She’d never be
She always swore She’d never die
Till all who bugged her
In the grave would lie
She hung on tight To the very end
No foe was left For flowers to send
Let’s raise a glass And shed a tear
She sure raised hell while she was here!”

20. “A Long Cup of Tea” by Michael Ashby

There are a lot of euphemisms for death. In fact, others may offer sympathies now that your loved one has “passed on” or “left for a better place.” Perhaps you prefer to think of your loved one as going out for a long cup of tea.

This poem begins:

“Death is too negative for me
So I’ll be popping off for a long cup of tea
Do splash out on two bags in the pot
And for my god’s sake keep the water hot.”

Uplifting Goodbye Funeral Poems

Some funeral poems have themes of everlasting love or meeting in the afterlife. Here are some uplifting funeral poems.

21. “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” William Shakespeare

One of the bard’s most famous sonnets, “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” may not, at first, seem like a funeral poem. However, it ends this way:

“Nor shall death brag thou wandrest in his shade
When in eternal lines to time thou growest,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

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

This short poem is as follows:

“Music, when soft voices die, 
Vibrates in the memory— 
Odours, when sweet violets sicken, 
Live within the sense they quicken. 

“Rose leaves, when the rose is dead, 
Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed; 
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.”

23. “Talking to Grief” by Denise Levertov

One of our favorite modern funeral poems is “Talking to Grief,” which describes grief as bringing in a homeless dog. It begins:

“Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
Like a homeless dog
Who comes to the back door
For a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.

“I should coax you
Into the house and give you
Your own corner,
A worn mat to lie on,
Your own water dish.”

Did You Find the Right Poem?

Finding the perfect poem for a funeral may take time. While your funeral director or officiant may be able to help by giving you a list of the most popular selections, you might find a different poem that speaks to you.

If you can’t find the perfect poem to describe your experience, why not try putting your thoughts on paper? Great poetry sometimes follows deep grief.

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