Can you recommend any non-religious funeral readings and poems?
When you are arranging a funeral for someone who didn't have any particular religious beliefs, it can sometimes be a bit daunting to find suitable poems or readings for the service. Here we look at some of our favourites, albeit there are many, many more we can suggest so please don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like some inspiration.
“Death (If I Should Go)” by Joyce Grenfell
Joyce Grenfell, an actress and writer, wrote a number of poems about death and loss, with this one being the most well-known. It is often read at funerals due to its light hearted nature.
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.
“Roads Go Ever On” by J.R.R. Tolkien
We heard this read at a recent funeral and were taken about by its beauty. An extract from “The Lord of the Rings”, this is a poignant reading for a funeral as Bilbo gracefully acknowledges that his journey is complete.
Roads go ever ever on,
Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.
Roads go ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.
"When I Am Dead, My Dearest" by Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti wrote this poem, about life and death, in 1862. She offered a rare perspective at the time, of a woman's view on loss.
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember
And haply may forget.
"No Matter What" by Debi Gliori
No Matter What, a powerful picture book which aims to teach children about love and loss. The message being that death does not take away the memories you shared with the person that has died.
Small said: “But what about when you’re dead and gone? Would you love me then? Does love go on?”
Large held Small snug as they looked out at the night, at the moon in the dark and the stars shining bright.
“Small, look at the stars – how they shine and glow. Yet some of those stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies… love, like starlight, never dies”.