Writings: Recommended Poetry

Few occasions call for poetry more than a memorial or funeral service. Here’s a selection of common funeral and remembrance poems to inspire you. What would you want read at your funeral? 


About Angels     
by Mattie Stepanek

Do you know what angels wear? 

They wear 

Angel-halos and Angel-wings, and 

Angel-dresses and Angel-shirts under them, and 

Angel-underwear and Angel-shoes and Angel-socks, and 

On their heads 

They wear 

Angel-hair -

Except if they don't have any hair. 

Some children and grownups 

Don't have any hair because they 

Have to take medicine that makes it fall out. 

And sometimes,

The medicine makes them all better.

And sometimes,

The medicine doesn't make them all better,

And they die. 

And they don't have any Angel-hair. 

So do you know what God does then? 

He gives them an 

Angel-wig.

And that's what Angels wear.

 

Heavenly Greeting      
by Mattie Stepanek

Dear God,

For a long time,

I have wondered about

How You will meet me

When I die and come to

Live with You in Heaven. 

I know You reach out 

Your hand to welcome

Your people into Your home, 

But I never knew if You 

Reached out Your right hand,

Or if You 

Reached out Your left hand.

But now I don't have to 

Wonder about that anymore. 

I asked my mommy and

She told me that You 

Reach out both of Your hands,

And welcome us with

A great big giant hug. 

Wow! 

I can't wait for my hug, God. 

Thank you,

And Amen.


I Could…If They Would      
by Mattie Stepanek

If they would find a cure when I'm a kid… 

I could ride a bike and sail on rollerblades, and 

I could go on really long nature hikes. 

If they would find a cure when I'm a teenager… 

I could earn my license and drive a car, and 

I could dance every dance at my senior prom. 

If they would find a cure when I'm a young adult… 

I could travel around the world and teach peace, and 

I could marry and have children of my own. 

If they would find a cure when I'm grown old… 

I could visit exotic places and appreciate culture, and 

I could proudly share pictures of my grandchildren. 

If they would find a cure when I'm alive… 

I could live each day without pain and machines, and 

I could celebrate the biggest thank you of life ever. 

If they would find a cure when I'm buried into Heaven… 

I could still celebrate with my brothers and sister there, and 

I could still be happy knowing that I was part of the effort.


When I Die (Part II)      
by Mattie Stepanek

When I die, I want to be 

A child in Heaven. 

I want to be 

A ten-year-old cherub. 

I want to be 

A hero in Heaven, 

And a peacemaker, 

Just like my goal on earth. 

I will ask God if I can 

Help the people in purgatory. 

I will help them think, 

About their life, 

About their spirits, 

About their future. 

I will help them 

Hear their own Heartsongs again, 

So they can finally 

See the face of God, 

So soon. 

When I die, 

I want to be, 

Just like I want to be

Here on earth.


Untitled

When tomorrow starts without me,

And I'm not there to see,

If the sun should rise and find your eyes

all filled with tears for me,

I know how much you love me,

As much as I love you,

and each time that you think of me,

I know you'll miss me too.

So when tomorrow starts without me,

Don't think we're far apart,

For every time you think of me,

I'm right here, in your heart.


Sightseers into Pilgrims    
by Evangeline Paterson

I used to think --

loving life so greatly --

that to die would be

like leaving a party

before the end.

Now I know that the party

is really happening

somewhere else;

that the light and the music --

escaping in snatches

to make the pulse beat

and the tempo quicken --

come from a long way

away.


And I know too

that when I get there

the music will never

end.


Prospice     
by Robert Browning
Fear death? -- to feel the fog in my throat,

   The mist in my face,

When the snows begin, and blasts denote,

   I am nearing the place,

The power of the night, the press of the storm,

   The post of the foe;

Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,

   Yet the strong man must go:

For the journey is done and the summit attained,

   And the barriers fall,

Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,

   The reward of it all.

I was ever a fighter, so -- one fight more,

   The best and last!

I would hate that Death bandaged my eyes, and forebore,

   And bade me crept past.

No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers

   The heroes of old,

Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's assears

   Of pain, darkness, and cold.

For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave,

   The black minute's at end,

And the element's rage, the fiend-voices that rave,

   Shall dwindle, shall blend,

Shall change, shall become first a peace, then a joy,

   Then a light, then thy breast,

O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,

   And with God be the rest!



Untitled
An old man, going a lone highway,

Came at the evening, cold and gray,

To a chasm, vast and deep and wide

Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;

The sullen stream had no fears for him;

But he turned when safe on the other side

And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,

"You are wasting strength with building here;

Your journey will end with the ending day;

You never again must pass this way;

You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide.

Why build the bridge at eventide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head.

"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said.

"There follows after me today

A youth whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm that has been naught to me

To that fair-haired youth may be pitfall be.

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;

Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."



A Life Well-Lived
   
by Marcel Proust

A life well-lived is a legacy of joy and pride and pleasure, a loving, lasting 

memory our grateful hearts will treasure

He touches your heart and brings healing to your spirit

Love lives on forever in the heart.

Memory nourishes the heart, and grief abates.

God saw that _____ was getting tired and a cure was not to be found.

He put His loving arms around him and whispered “Come with me”

With tearful eyes you watched him suffer and saw him fade away.

Although you loved him dearly you could not make him stay.

A golden heart stopped beating His small, frail hand at rest.

God broke your hearts to prove to you He only takes the best.


To the loved ones I leave behind      
by Sullivan Belleau  

Forgive my many faults

And the many pains I have caused you.

How thoughtless, how foolish I have been.

But if the dead can come back to this earth,

And flit unseen around those they love,

I shall always be with you.

In the brightest day and the darkest night.

Always! Always!

And when the soft breeze fans your cheek,

It shall be my breath.

Or the cool air your throbbing temple

It shall be my spirit passing by.

Do not mourn me dead

Think I am gone and wait for me

For we shall meet again.


The Pathway that Never Ends

We follow a pathway that has no end as we travel through life day by day.
Together with those who are dear to our hearts and are there by our side, come what may.
But sometimes a loved one must travel ahead for reasons that aren’t always clear.
And we’re left behind to continue along, missing one who is no longer here.
And while it may seem that the pathway has stopped, it merely has a rounded a bend, And our loved one goes on to a much brighter place down the pathway that has no end.


Miss Me But Let Me Go

"When I come to the end of the road and the sun has set for me

I want no rites in a gloom filled room. Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little - but not too long, and not with your head held low

Remember the love that we once shared. Miss me - but let me go

For this is a journey that we all must take, and each must go alone

It's all a part of the Master's plan, a step on the road to home."


The clock of life

The clock of life is wound but once,

and no man has the power

to tell just when the hands will stop

at late or early hour.

Now is the only time you own

live, love, toil with a will

place no faith in tomorrow, for

the clock may then be still


All is well      
by Canon H. Scott Holland

"Death is just an open door

I have only slipped away

into the next room.

I am I, and you are you.

Whatever we were to each other,

that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,

speak to me in the easy way

which you always used.

Put no difference in your tone,

wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.


Laugh as we always laughed

at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Let my name be ever the household word

that it always was,

let it be spoken without effect,

without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.

it is the same as it ever was;

there is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind

because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you, for an interval,

somewhere very near;

safe and secure,

all is well."


My Mother's Garden

My Mother kept a garden

A garden of the heart

She planted all the good things

That gave my life its start

She turned me to the sunshine

And encouraged me to dream

Fostering and nurturing

The seeds of self-esteem

And when the winds and rains came

She protected me enough

But not too much, she new I'd need

To stand up strong and tough

Her constant good example

Always taught me right from wrong

Markers for my pathway

That will last a lifetime long

I am my Mother's garden

I am her legacy

And I hope today she feels the love

Reflected back from me.


Don't grieve for me .....     
by Thresiamma Abraham

Don't grieve for me, for I'm free

I'm following the path God laid for me

I took his hand when I heard his call,

I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day,

To laugh, to love, to work or play

Tasks left undone must stay that way,

I've found that peace at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void,

Then fill it with remembered joy,

A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,

Ah, yes, these things I too will miss.


Be not burdened with times of sorrow,

I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow,

My life's been full, I savored much

Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all too brief

Don't lengthen it now with undue grief

Lift up your hearts and share with me,

God wanted me now, He has set me free.


I am vertical      
by Sylvia Plath

I am vertical

But I would rather be horizontal.

I am not a tree with my root in the soil

Sucking up minerals and motherly love

So that each March I may gleam into leaf.

Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed

Attracting my share of "ahs" and "spectacularly painted"

And knowing I must soon unpetal.

Compared to me, a tree is immortal

And a flower-head not tall, but more startling.

And I want the one's longevity and the other's daring.

Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars

The trees and the flowers have been stewing their cool odours.

I walk among them, but none of them are noticing.

Sometimes I think that when I am sleeping

I must perfectly resemble them - thoughts gone dim.

It is more natural to me, lying down.

Then the sky and I are in open conversation,

And I shall be useful when I lie down finally;

Then the trees may touch me for once,

And the flowers have time for me.


God's garden

God looked around his garden and he found an empty place.

And then he looked down upon the earth, and saw your tired face.

He put his arms around you, and lifted you to rest.

God's garden must be beautiful, he always takes the best.

He knew that you were suffering, he knew you were in pain,

He knew that you would never get well on earth again.

He saw the road was getting rough, and the hills were hard to climb.

So he closed your weary eyelids, and whispered "Peace be thine."

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.


I did not die

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the softly falling snow,

I am the gentle shower of rain,

I am the fields of ripening grain,

I am in the morning hush,

I am in the graceful rush

Of beautiful birds in circling flight.

I am the starshine of the night,

I am in the flowers that bloom,

I am in a quiet room,

I am in the birds that sing,

I am in each lovely thing.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there - I did not die.


Traditional Gaelic blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.


Old Indian Prayer 

Should your blanket be torn,

May your breezes blow warm,

May your pleasure be what you find.

May the burdens you bear

Like your bounty-be shared

May you leave something good behind

May the sky and the land

Rise to your command

May your senses come like the night.

Live in peace with the Earth

As in death-As in birth

May you prosper, and have a good life.


Do not stand by my grave and weep     
by Mary Frye 

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glint on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.


When you wake in the morning hush,

I am the swift, uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft starlight at night.


Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there, I do not sleep.

(Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there, I did not die!)


She is Gone      
by Anonymous

You can shed tears that she is gone

or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back

or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.


Your heart can be empty because you can't see her

or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she's gone

or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

or you can do what she'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

Untitled 
by Charlie Daniels

A brief candle; both ends burning

An endless mile; a bus wheel turning

A friend to share the lonesome times

A handshake and a sip of wine

So say it loud and let it ring

We are all a part of everything

The future, present and the past

Fly on proud bird

You're free at last

 

Untitled

The lovely bud, so young, so fair

Called off by earthly doom,

Just came to show how sweet a flower

In paradise could bloom


Let Me Go      
by Anon

We've known lots of pleasure,

At times endured pain,

We've lived in the sunshine

And walked in the rain.

But now we're separated

And for a time apart,

But I am not alone-

You're forever in my heart.

Death always seems so sudden,

And it is always sure,

But what is oft' forgotten-

It is not without a cure.

[You may wish to remove this next verse]

I'm walking now with someone,

And I know He'll always stay,

I know He's walking with you too,

Giving comfort everyday.

There may be times you miss me,

I sort of hope you do,

But smile when you think of me,

For I'll be waiting for you.

Now there's many things for you to do,

And lots of ways to grow,

So get busy, be happy, and live your life,

Miss me, but let me go.


After Glow

I’d like the memory of me

to be a happy one.

I’d like to leave an after glow

of smiles when life is done.

I’d like to leave an echo

whispering softly down the ways,

Of happy times and laughing times

and bright and sunny days.

I’d like the tears of those who grieve,

to dry before the sun

of happy memories

that I leave when my life is done.


I’m Free

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free

I’m following the path God has laid you see.

I took His hand when I heard him call

I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day

To laugh, to love, to work, to play.

Tasks left undone must stay that way

I found that peace at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void

Then fill it with remembered joy.

A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss

Oh yes, these things I too will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow

I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.

My life’s been full, I savored much

Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all too brief

Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.

Lift up your hearts and peace to thee

God wanted me now; He set me free.


Untitled

A light from the family is gone

A voice we loved is stilled

A place is vacant in the home

Which never can be filled

We have to mourn the loss of one

We would’ve loved to keep

But God who surely loved her best

Has finally made her sleep



This was my Father

My Father was a man who had smiles to brighten your days

who always made you feel good with his warm words of praise.

And what’s more he knew what to do to make wishes come true.

He was my Father.

My Father was someone who always had good stories to tell,

but just as importantly he knew how to be a good listener as well.

He was patient and kind and the very best friend you could ever hope to find.

He was no ordinary man

And I'm proud to tell the world that (Insert your dads name here)

Was my Father.