Choosing Funeral Poetry
Most families will choose to have a celebrant because they do not want a religious ceremony. An independent celebrant such as myself, offers the choice of including a prayer or hymn if the family wish (a Humanist celebrant will not include religious references).
So how is a non religious ceremony structured to totally honour your loved one? Poems are a wonderful way in which to bring structure and meaning to a service. There are many well known and instantly recognisable poems often included in funerals which are beautiful and classic pieces.
I have a wide anthology of pieces that I have gathered over the years, some classic, many by little known poets. Some short and simple, others more expressive. After the initial contact with the family, I email a selection of appropriate poetry to browse through before meeting with the family to discuss the service. I also include poetry relevant to your loved one’s own hobbies and interests where possible. Families of course often find their own pieces for inclusion that express their sentiments perfectly.
Reading a short poem is a thoughtful way in which family members can participate in the actual service, long tributes and eulogies can be daunting and emotions sometimes take over.
I can write a bespoke poem to form part of the ceremony, as I often do for the Wedding Ceremonies that I conduct, where I tell the love story of the couple in verse, including happy and funny anecdotes. Details of my own poems are on my website: thepoetrylady.net
One of my favourite poems to read at a funeral is Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall. An American poet who wrote inspirational poetry about life and gratitude.
After Glow – Helen Lowrie Marshall
I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an after glow
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,
Enjoy the happy memories
I leave when life is done.
A wonderful quote from Helen Lowrie Marshall is:
‘Aim for a star, and keep your sights high! With a heart full of faith within, your feet on the ground and your eyes in the sky.’