15 Celebratory Poems & Readings To Use At Your Next Funeral

celebratory poems

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.”

– Seneca

poems

#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

celebratory poems

#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.”

– Osho

#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

celebratory poems

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!

Rochelle Rietow

funeralOne

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  1. Amy Cunningham

    Here’s a lovely poem my families have appreciated–

    THE WHEEL
    by Susan Stocker

    Time is a wheel: the day that we met
    Is still there:
    Everything changes but nothing is lost:
    All that we shared,
    All that we ever loved, belongs to us still:
    Time is a wheel
    Whatever has ended is just about to begin
    All that we feel,
    All that we ever felt, will come back again
    Time is a wheel
    The sound of your laughter, the rain in your hair,
    Your hand in mine,
    Your knock at the door, your step on the stair –
    All are still there
    Because time is a wheel and death will come round
    As birth will come round
    As love will come round, as peace will come round,
    As joy will come round,
    As life will come round, because time is a wheel
    Bringing back even yet,
    All that we ever shared , and the day that we met.