Using Memorial Poetry in a Funeral Service

By: Richard McNeal


Planning a funeral service is no easy task, as people are weary and uncertain during such an emotional time. Finding ways in which to express thoughts and feelings is difficult when there are no perfect words to say. A funeral poem is a useful aid, as its words are specifically intended to help mourn and honor a loved one. Appropriate at a funeral, memorial, graveside service, or wake, memorial poetry speaks to the heart.

In the Eulogy

Memorial poetry is a powerful medium of expression and often communicates our thoughts and feelings better than our own words. As such, using poetry in the eulogy can be a most fulfilling and moving experience. While writing a memory poem yourself is always a meaningful endeavor, there are many memory poems available that can accurately and appropriately express the particular message you're trying to communicate-whether it be one of sorrow, remembrance, or hope. A few examples of appropriate funeral poems include: All Is Well by Henry Scott Holland, Farewell by Emily Dickinson, No Longer Mourn for Me by William Shakespeare, or Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd.

On Acknowledgement Cards

Often the best way to express your deepest gratitude for those close friends and family members who stood by your side during this difficult time is to send acknowledgement cards. While, of course, a personally written message is a meaningful gesture, it's also common to include a poem. This poem can be a thank you, a memorial poem pertaining to the loss of your loved one, or a general poem about life and death. Whichever you chose, using a poem graciously expresses your sentiments for their love and support. Below is an example of a general poem you might include:

Poem of Life

Life is but a stopping place,

A pause in what's to be,

A resting place along the road,

To sweet eternity.

We all have different journeys,

Different paths along the way,

We all were meant to learn some things,

But never meant to stay...

Our destination is a place,

Far greater than we know.

For some the journey's quicker,

For some the journey's slow.

And when the journey finally ends,

We'll claim a great reward,

And find an everlasting peace,

Together with the Lord.

--author unknown

Poetry Inscriptions

After someone passes away, friends and family often want a consistent reminder of the wonderful influence and life of their loved one. Since visiting a gravesite or final resting place everyday is improbable, a small token of the deceased's life is a meaningful and practical solution. This is often achieved through an inscription on a particular keepsake or memento. Whether it's a custom figurine, plaque, or personal item of the deceased's, an “in memory of” poem is a fitting supplement. Since the lengths of inscriptions are contingent upon the size of the object, the “in memory of” poem you choose should reflect the space available. The most suitable poems likely consist of short phrases and few stanzas. A couplet or quatrain is most common, for instance. The following is an untitled piece by Molly Fumia:

The season of mourning,

like spring, summer,

fall and winter,

will also pass.


Memorial Bookmarks

Often friends, family, and colleagues of the departed also appreciate a small keepsake or memento. A popular and practical item is the memorial bookmark. Consequently, the medium of a bookmark is conducive to longer prose that expresses experience and feeling in wonderful poetic detail. Despite whether your loved one was an avid reader, a memorial bookmark will hold the place of his of her memory for years to come.

~Richard McNeal, 2009

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Traditional memorial poetry and end of life quotes can be sentimental and heartfelt. Find the right expressive eulogy poem or share one you have written at Poetry Reading online.

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