Reading a poem or short verse is a common part of a funeral service, as a eulogy or remembrance verse. Many funeral poems make references to God or Heaven, but for those who don’t want a traditional religious service, non-religious funeral poems can be a fitting tribute to a loved one.
Here are 15 non-religious funeral readings, ideal for secular or Humanist funerals – though they may also be suitable for religious services.
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
This popular funeral poem is based on a short verse by David Harkins and was read at the funeral of the Queen Mother. It’s an uplifting non-religious funeral poem about being grateful for a loved one’s life.
2. Let Me Go
When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?
‘Let Me Go’ is a short but uplifting non-religious funeral poem by famous Victorian poet Christina Rossetti, about celebrating a loved one’s life as a final farewell.
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.
Helen Lowrie Marshall, an American writer, penned this short funeral poem about cherishing happy memories after the death of a loved one. It’s a popular choice for non-religious funeral services.
When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do,
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with too many tears,
But be thankful we had so many good years.
This beautiful remembrance verse is ideal for a non-religious funeral reading or eulogy, written from the perspective of a person nearing the end of life, reflecting on happy memories.
Because I have loved life,
I shall have no sorrow to die.
I have sent up my gladness on wings,
to be lost in the blue of the sky.
American 20th Century poet Amelia Josephine Burr wrote this short funeral poem about making the most of life and finding peace in your final days, rejoicing in the beauty of a life well-lived.
Not, how did he die, but how did he live?
Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth.
This short non-religious funeral poem celebrates the life of the person who has died. It emphasises that the good deeds a person does during their life is how they will be remembered after their death.
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 a scattering ceremony, as a loved one’s ashes are spread into the wind. It focuses on the idea of rejoining nature after death, making it ideal for a woodland burial or Humanist ceremony.
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)
This touching poem is by famous American poet E.E. Cummings. It’s about keeping loved ones in your heart, even after they are gone, and is a popular poem to read in tribute to someone much loved and missed.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
A popular non-religious funeral poem by beloved poet W.H. Auden. A mournful acknowledgement of the pain of losing a loved one, ‘Funeral Blues’ is a sad but moving poem for a funeral.
Look beyond the empty chair
To know a life well spent
Look beyond the solitude
To days of true content.
This short funeral or memorial poem is about seeing beyond the gap left behind by someone’s death, to see the happy memories that will stay with you forever.
If I should die and leave you here a while,
Be not like others sore undone,
Who keep long vigil by the silent dust.
This non-religious funeral poem by Mary Lee Hall is written from the perspective of the person who is at the end of life. They ask their loved ones to not let grief overcome them and strive to be happy while remembering loving memories.
12. All Is Well
Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Oxford professor Henry Scott Holland wrote this comforting and uplifting funeral poem. It’s a non-religious poem about love connecting two people forever, even after death.
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 in the 1930s, its beautiful natural imagery is powerful and comforting.
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.
15. 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 and cherishing happy memories in your heart.
Browse more poems for funerals to get more ideas for your loved one’s funeral service.