A few years ago I wrote a funeral poem for general use. Grief and death are important topics for me, largely because of losing my brother many years ago. My brother was not religious. In fact my whole family were atheists. It was hard to find something suitable to read at his funeral. So many funeral poems are, I am sorry to say, just a bit clunky. The better ones are overused. I often had people asking me, as a poet, could I recommend a funeral poem. And I felt it was a surprisingly challenging task, given how much need there is for good (and not overused) funeral poems. Some funeral poems also only work in certain circumstances: they are only suitable for a spouse, but not a sister or brother. They are only suitable for an older person. What if you need a funeral poem for a child?
So I wrote this poem, deliberately, to be applicable to anyone at all. Anyone we have loved and lost, no matter what the connection. I wanted a poem that would help people to grieve, while still being a comfort in some way (at a time when there seems to be so little comfort). It incorporates my own beliefs and I hope it is a genuine help to those who have lost someone they love.
I offer it for anyone who would like to use it in their funeral service. There is no need to ask my permission. You can publish it in Orders of Service, no problem at all (it would be great if you can credit it to me but I won’t be policing anyone!). There is a downloadable PDF here:
A Word version here:
If we believe there is no afterlife
and love is shattered when the body fails,
we do ourselves a wrong: we strip our hearts
of love’s warm coat when death is blowing gales,
and wonder why we’re cold. If we believe
the soul we knew, and loved, and who loved us,
was never more than flesh and blood and bone,
their lively eye is lost, is ash and dust
and we’re alone. So ask yourself just this.
A broken radio gives out no sound,
but does the music it was tuned to, play?
And can you sense that broadcast even now?
Love is unbroken. Mourn your loss today,
allow each moment that you need to grieve,
but listen for that signal in the air,
and know that we can choose what we believe.