15 Celebratory Poems & Readings To Use At Your Next FuneralAugust 31st, 2016
A 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 22.8 percent of Americans consider themselves unaffiliated with a traditional faith, claiming to be either atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”
While the majority of living Americans declare a religious association or identity, there’s still a significant and growing portion who don’t participate in a faith-based lifestyle. And even beyond that, many who do belong to a particular religion are not the type to seek every answer or comfort in their faith, holding secular wedding ceremonies, participating in elections outside of their religious trend, and rejecting a faith-based funeral service for themselves or their loved one.
For a long time, it’s been tradition to insert words of comfort and support into funeral and memorial services… many of these passages originating from the Bible or other religious texts. In some cases, the passages mention little or no religious doctrine; yet the source still can be polarizing for client families in search of non-religious ceremonies. That leaves you in the challenging position of finding (or crafting yourself!) non-religious elements to include in eulogies or keepsakes that still deliver emotion and a sense of shared experience among funeral attendees.
Want to learn more about how you can better serve your non-religious families? Check out this post: 4 Meaningful Tips That Will Elevate Your Next Non-Religious Funeral
These 15 short readings, inspiring passages and heart-moving quotes can add that perfectly-captured sentiment to your funeral services, while leaving the religious slant out of the equation for the families who don’t wish to an accentuate any faith-based beliefs. These selections can help you celebrate life in a meaningful way at each service.
#1: I carry your heart with me (I carry it in)
– e.e. cummings
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)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet)
I want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
And it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
And whatever a sun will always sing is you
Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
And the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
Which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)
#2: “As is a tale, so is a life: Not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”
#3: 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.
– Traditional Gaelic blessing
#4: Perhaps they are not stars but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones shines down to let us know they are happy.
– Eskimo proverb
#5: When I’m Gone
– Mrs. Lyman Hancock
When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile
Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned
And remember only the smile
Forget unkind words I have spoken
Remember some good I have done
Forget that I ever had heartache
And remember I’ve had loads of fun
Forget that I’ve stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way
Remember I have fought some hard battles
And won, ere the close of the day
Then forget to grieve for my going
I would not have you sad for a day
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay
And come in the shade of evening
When the sun paints the sky in the west
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best
#6: “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
– Queen Elizabeth II
#7: “To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
#8: “I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint on our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.”
– Leo Buscaglia
#9: She Is Gone
– David Harkins
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 will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that 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 is 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 would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
#10: “That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet.”
– Emily Dickinson
#11: “Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure / And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven.”
– Eric Clapton & Will Jennings, “Tears in Heaven”
#12: Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep
– Mary Elizabeth 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 glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
#13: “Life should not only be lived; it should be celebrated.”
#14: “On Death”
– Kalil Gibran
Than Almitra spoke, saying, “We would ask now of Death.”
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
#15: “Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story no one on earth has ever read, which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
– C. S. Lewis
Death is a universal experience of life, regardless of spiritual path. So it only makes sense to offer families words of comfort, celebration and inspiration that come from backgrounds as diverse as they are, so that their funeral service reflects their loved one’s beliefs and their own personal needs. This may include quotes and readings that you share in eulogies or celebration services, or even the poems or inspirational messages that you include in printed service programs or remembrance cards.
If you are looking for a way to customize the printed and digital keepsakes that you offer families, look no further than Life Tributes software. This all-encompassing funeral solution allows you to create custom printed programs and keepsakes for the families that you serve (regardless of their religious background).
Stuck on what messaging to include in your funeral printing? Use one of the 15 beautiful poems or quotes that we shared above for celebration services, or input a specific quote that is particularly meaningful to the family you are serving. The customization options are limitless!
To try out a free 30-Day trial of Life Tributes today and begin printing beautiful customized keepsakes for your family today, click here to get started!