Uplifting and humorous poems for a humanist funeral

Humanist funeral ceremonies focus on the person who has died – their story, their history, their unique qualities, and the relationships they forged.

Secular readings and poems often feature in humanist funeral ceremonies and, like popular pieces of music, there are some poems which are more frequently chosen than others – some are humorous and some are more emotional or sentimental.

Uplifting and humorous poems for funerals

Here are some suggestions for anyone wishing to choose an uplifting or humorous poem for a humanist  funeral.

‘But life goes on, So sing as well.’

‘Death (If I Should Go)’ by Joyce Grenfell

If I should go before the rest of you

Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone

Nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice

But be the usual selves that I have known

Weep if you must

Parting is Hell

But life goes on,

So sing as well.

 

‘Afterglow’ (Anon)

I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.

I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.

I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,

Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.

I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun;

Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.

 

‘One At Rest’ (Anon)

Think of me as one at rest,

for me you should not weep

I have no pain no troubled thoughts

for I am just asleep

The living thinking me that was,

is now forever still

And life goes on without me now,

as time forever will.

If your heart is heavy now

because I’ve gone away

Dwell not long upon it friend

For none of us can stay

 

Those of you who liked me,

I sincerely thank you all

And those of you who loved me,

I thank you most of all.

And in my fleeting lifespan,

as time went rushing by

I found some time to hesitate,

to laugh, to love, to cry

 

Matters it now if time began

If time will ever cease?

I was here, I used it all,

and now I am at peace.

 

‘The Dash’ by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak

At the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on the tombstone

From the beginning…to the end

 

He noted that first came the date of birth

And spoke the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all

Was the dash between those years

 

For that dash represents all the time

That they spent alive on earth.

And now only those who loved them

Know what that little line is worth

 

For it matters not, how much we own,

The cars…the house…the cash.

What matters is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

 

So, think about this long and hard.

Are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left

That can still be rearranged.

 

If we could just slow down enough

To consider what’s true and real

And always try to understand

The way other people feel.

 

And be less quick to anger

And show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives

Like we’ve never loved before.

 

If we treat each other with respect

And more often wear a smile,

Remembering this special dash

Might only last a little while

 

So, when your eulogy is being read

With your life’s actions to rehash…

Would you be proud of the things they say

About how you spent YOUR dash?

 

‘Pardon Me for Not Getting Up’ (Anon)

Oh dear, if you’re reading this right now,

I must have given up the ghost.

I hope you can forgive me for being

Such a stiff and unwelcoming host.

 

Just talk amongst yourself my friends,

And share a toast or two.

For I am sure you will remember well

How I loved to drink with you.

 

Don’t worry about mourning me,

I was never easy to offend.

Feel free to share a story at my expense

And we’ll have a good laugh at the end.

‘Just talk amongst yourself my friends, And share a toast or two.’

Where else can I look for poetry?

English poetry offers such a rich source of consolation when confronting death. The humanist Sigmund Freud once remarked when discussing psychology that ‘Everywhere I go, I find that a poet has been there before me.’ Great writers over centuries have captured thoughts, ideas, and feelings we thought inexpressible, or unique to our lives, and made them beautiful and memorable. Discovering them and sharing them can bring us joy, solace, and emotional relief.

The canon of beautiful poetry about death is especially vast and humanist authors make up only part of it – although a big part of it. If you’re planning a non-religious funeral, you’ll find that very little poetry about death is deeply religious in character. It’s also easy to incorporate poems where there is some mention of religious concepts into a humanist funeral, especially if the poet or the poem itself is significant to the deceased or how they lived.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to dig around in a library to find the perfect poem. After meeting you and talking to you about the person who has died, a humanist celebrant will be able to suggest something absolutely perfect and suited to the person you want to remember.

What is a humanist funeral ceremony?

A humanist funeral is a non-religious ceremony that focuses on the person who has died, the life they led, and the relationships they forged.

The ceremony is conducted by a humanist celebrant and it is both a celebration of a life and a dignified, personal farewell.

If you would like to discuss funeral plans with one of our celebrants, our online map makes it easy for you to find a celebrant near you.

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