Funerals and the many customs associated with marking the passing of a loved one allow people to express sadness over their loss. During times of grief and change, people often turn to different forms of art to help them heal and to express their pain. Usually, a close friend or family member is asked to deliver a memorial speech, also called a eulogy to honor the deceased. Today, a eulogy can take the form of a speech, a letter and even a poem. Writing a funeral poem as part of a eulogy, to display at the visitation or for your own comfort allows you to use the art of language to convey what youâ€™re feeling.
Writing a funeral poem
If you choose to write a funeral poem, decide first who the poem will be shared with. Will the poem be for your own personal use or will it be for a group of people sharing the loss of a loved one? If the poem is a private expression to help you address your own feelings, you can be more liberal in what you write. Private verses allow you to be completely open about how the deceasedâ€™s passing makes you feel. This personal type of poetry allows you to write about more intimate or private memories that you may not be comfortable sharing with others. Donâ€™t feel that you have to write what others want to hear â€“ just be honest in your writing and people will appreciate your thoughts and words. If youâ€™ve decided to share your poem with others, be sure to consider the thoughts and feelings of others as you write.
Gathering your thoughts
After youâ€™ve decided the purpose and audience of your poem, take some quiet time to let your thoughts flow. Think about the memories you have of your friend or family member â€“ your fondest times spent together, their personality, passions and life achievements. Donâ€™t feel hampered by rhyme structures or worry about your writing skills â€“ simply let the word come; a funeral poem that takes the form of a verse, a letter or a speech is perfectly suitable.
Delivering a funeral poem
Usually, a funeral poem is read during the funeral service. If you choose to deliver your poem during the service, bring a copy of the poem to read from. Trying to memorize touching words while youâ€™re coping with a host of emotions is very difficult. It can be even harder to remember the words if your voice falters or if youâ€™re uncomfortable speaking in front of a group. Be sure to write legibly in large type and take some time to review the poem carefully several times.
You may prefer not to read your poem aloud, but still share it with others. Consider writing out the poem and displaying it in a frame at the visitation. Many funeral homes offer memorial pamphlets to mourners. Heartfelt words can be a touching addition to any funeral program or pamphlet and are often kept as mementos.
If youâ€™ve chosen to write a funeral poem just for yourself you can preserve the poem in a frame on its own or behind a picture. Some families choose to place a memorial announcement in their local newspaper a year after the loved oneâ€™s passing. This is another option if you feel more comfortable sharing your writing after some time has passed.
If youâ€™re not sure where to begin, we suggest reading a few of the classic poems below. Some of these poems are about loss and grieving and others are about honoring life. They can be used as inspiration, or can be read at the funeral if youâ€™re having difficulty putting your own thoughts into words.
â€¢ Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep â€“ Mary Frye
â€¢ All is Well â€“ Henry Scott Holland
â€¢ Death, Be Not Proud â€“ John Donne
â€¢ The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls â€“ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
â€¢ The Oak â€“ Alfred Lord Tennyson
â€¢ No Coward Soul is Mine â€“ Emily Bronte
â€¢ Remember â€“ Christina Rossetti
â€¢ A Parable of Immortality â€“ Henry Van Dyke
Funeral poems are a very personal expression of your loss. While they can be touching and comforting for others to hear, thoughts and emotions can also be difficult to capture on paper. Talk to other people who were close to the departed if you need inspiration for your poem â€“ this will help inspire you and allow you to share your memories with others.