Best Poems for Funerals

Poems to Express Grief

The best poems for funerals make us all think about life, love, loss and our connections to each other. Choosing the right readings for a funeral or memorial service can be difficult. You want something that reflects on the person who has passed, but also something that speaks to everyone who will be listening. Thankfully, you can turn to the best poems for funerals to help you say just what you need without having to write your own poem or eulogy while you are grieving.

1. 23rd Psalm

The Bible

The 23rd Psalm reminds people who are grieving that God is always with them and providing comfort to them, even when it is difficult to feel that connection. Everyone has heard this classic psalm read at funerals because it offers a message of comfort and strength to people of faith.

2. "Remember"

Christina Rossetti

"Remember" is a beautiful poem that speaks from death, reminding the people who are left behind to remember the person who has passed on. This poem tells people to remember the departed, but not to be sad that they are no longer sharing a life together.

3. "Song of Myself"

Walt Whitman

While "Song of Myself" in its entirety is very long and not all appropriate for a funeral, the ending stanzas are particularly beautiful and appropriate, including, "Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, Missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere waiting for you."

4. "Death Be Not Proud"

John Donne

The famous poem "Death Be Not Proud" is popular for funerals because it speaks about the inevitability of death. For some people the idea that no one can escape death is comforting when facing a personal tragedy.

5. "When I'm Gone"

Mrs. Lyman Hancock

Although not as well-known as some of the other best poems for funerals, "When I'm Gone" is a lovely poem about the right way to remember the people who have gone from our lives. It encourages people to recall the departed at his or her best, forgetting all the harsh words or unhappy days the person had. That's the way anyone would want to be remembered.

6. "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep"

Author disputed

"Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep" is a lovely, brief poem, again written from the perspective of the departed. It reminds people that the deceased is not really gone, but his or her soul is still around in the morning light and the song of birds.

7. "Gone from My Sight"

Henry Van Dyke

More a sermon than a poem, "Gone from My Sight" provides a touching analogy comparing the departed to a ship that has sailed over the horizon. It isn't really gone, and neither is the person who has passed.

8. El Malei Rachamim

Traditional Jewish prayer

The El Malei Rachamim is the traditional prayer for the soul of the departed in the Jewish tradition, but its request for God to take in the soul of the person who has died and give him or her comfort is appropriate for a person of any faith.

9. "Funeral Blues"

W.H. Auden

The perfect poem for expressing the anguish of the loss of a loved one, "Funeral Blues" says exactly what most people are feeling as they deal with the loss of a spouse or other dear person. It's a heartbreaking, beautiful and true poem.

10. "I Will Remember You"

Sarah McLachlan

The song "I Will Remember You" is popular for playing or reading as a poem at funerals, especially those of young people. It's a touching song about struggling with emotions, regrets and the memories left behind when people die.

Best Poems for Funerals