Here are some excerpts from popular non-religious funeral poems and readings:
He/She Is Gone
“You can shed tears that he/she is gone
Or you can smile because he/she has lived”
This popular funeral poem is based on a short verse by David Harkins and was read at the funeral of the Queen Mother. It’s a poem about being grateful for a loved one’s life.
Let Me Go
“When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me”
‘Let Me Go’ is a short poem by famous Victorian poet Christina Rossetti about celebrating a loved one’s life as a final farewell.
“I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.”
Helen Lowrie Marshall, an American writer, penned this short funeral poem about cherishing happy memories after the death of a loved one.
To Those Whom I Love And Those Who Love Me
“When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do”
This remembrance verse is ideal for a non-religious funeral and is written from the perspective of a person nearing the end of life, reflecting on happy memories.
A Song of Living
“Because I have loved life,
I shall have no sorrow to die.”
American poet Amelia Josephine Burr wrote this short poem about making the most of life and finding peace in your final days, rejoicing in the beauty of a life well-lived.
Not How Did He Die, But How Did He Live?
“Not how did he die, but how did he live?
Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?”
This short poem celebrates the life of the person who has died. It emphasises that the good deeds a person does during their life is how they will be remembered after their death.
Farewell, Sweet Dust
“Now I have lost you, I must scatter
All of you on the air henceforth;”
This non-religious funeral poem would be ideal to recite at a scattering of ashes ceremony, as a loved one’s ashes are spread into the wind.
When I’m Gone
“When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile”
Written by Mrs Lyman Hancock, this short verse is about remembering all the good times after the death of a loved one and cherishing happy memories in your heart.
I Carry Your Heart
“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)
I am never without it (anywhere I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)”
This poem is by famous American poet E.E. Cummings. It’s about keeping loved ones in your heart, even after they are gone.
“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.”
A popular non-religious funeral poem by poet W.H. Auden. A mournful acknowledgement of the pain of losing a loved one. The poem was made popular in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Beyond The Empty Chair
“Look beyond the empty chair
To know a life well spent”
This short memorial poem is about seeing beyond the gap left behind by someone’s death, to see the happy memories that will stay with you forever.
Turn Again To Life
“If I should die and leave you here a while,
Be not like others sore undone”
This poem by Mary Lee Hall is written from the perspective of the person who is at the end of life. They ask their loved ones to not let grief overcome them and strive to be happy while remembering loving memories.
All Is Well
“Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room”
Oxford professor Henry Scott Holland wrote this comforting and uplifting funeral poem about love connecting two people forever, even after death.
Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
“Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.”
This famous funeral poem written by Mary Elizabeth Frye is a popular choice for religious and non-religious funeral services alike.
“Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.”
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this short but powerful funeral verse. It’s about not being afraid of death and finding peace at the end of your life.