Reading a funeral poem or short verse is a traditional part of many funeral services. Most funeral readings are inspired by religion, and quote sources according to a loved one’s faith, like the Bible or Quran. But for those who weren’t religious, or followed a Humanist philosophy, a non-religious funeral poem or reading is a more fitting way to pay tribute to their life.
Discover these 10 beautiful non-religious funeral poems, ideal for secular or Humanist funeral services, full of meaning and emotion.
1. When I’m Gone
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.
A popular non-religious funeral poem by Mrs. Lyman Hancock, this short verse is about remembering all the good times after the death of a loved one. Read the full text of When I’m Gone.
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
Robert Louis Stevenson, famous for penning classics like Treasure Island, wrote this short but powerful funeral verse. It’s about not being afraid of death and finding peace at the end of your life.
3. It’s Strange
It’s strange we don’t appreciate
The things we see each day
We never know their value
Till they’re cruelly snatched away
This short non-religious funeral poem is a bittersweet verse about treasuring what you have and mourning for a loved one. Read the full text of It’s Strange.
4. Sonnet 60
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end,
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
This sonnet by William Shakespeare makes for a beautiful non-religious funeral poem. It’s about the passage of time and what lasts after someone special is gone. Read the full text of Sonnet 60.
5. Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
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.
This famous funeral poem is a popular choice for religious and non-religious funeral services alike. Written by Mary Elizabeth Frye, its beautiful natural imagery is powerful and comforting. Read the full text of Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep.
6. Farewell, Sweet Dust
Now I have lost you, I must scatter
All of you on the air henceforth;
Not that to me it can ever matter
But it’s only fair to the rest of the earth.
This moving non-religious funeral poem would be ideal to recite at an ash scattering ceremony. It focuses on the idea of rejoining nature after death. Read the full text of Farewell, Sweet Dust.
7. Do Not Weep For Me
Do not weep for me for I have not gone.
I am the wind that shakes the mighty Oak.
I am the gentle rain that falls upon your face.
I am the spring flower that pushes through the dark earth.
I am the chuckling laughter of the mountain stream.
This funeral poem is written around the idea that when we die, our bodies rejoin the earth and return to nature, while precious memories live on. Read the full text of Do Not Weep For Me.
8. Intimations of Immortality
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.
This extract from William Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality reflects on the finality of death and how to move forwards when something precious is taken from you.
9. Love Shines Through
Like a shadow in the moonlight
Like the whisper of the seas
Like the echoes of a melody
Just beyond our reach
In the shadow of our sorrow
Past the whisper of goodbye
Love shines through eternity
A heartbeat from our eye
This short non-religious funeral poem celebrates the life of a loved one, remembering that love lives on long after someone is gone.
10. When I Am Dead, My Dearest
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree.
Christina Rossetti wrote this short non-religious funeral poem about saying goodbye to loved ones and wishing them peace through their grief. Read the full text of When I Am Dead, My Dearest.
- Discover more in our useful Help and Resources section, where you can find funeral poems for a mom, famous elegies and funeral poems for grandma that can help you to plan and personalise a loved-one's funeral.