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Non-religious funeral poems

Cherry blossom on an open book

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.

2. Requiem

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.

Woman walking through a field, running her hands through the tallgrass

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.

Woman walking across a sandy beach, leaving footprints in the sand

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.

Silhouette of a man looking up at the night sky

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.

Man standing on a rock looking out to sea at sunset

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.

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