FuneralsMourningReadingsPoems about Death

February 17, 2020Obitia
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Beautiful poems can be either a source of comfort or inspiration for an obituary, epitaph, or eulogy. While many people will look to religious texts such as the Bible for inspiration, many may wish to use a poem. Below are some well-known poems about death that you may wish to use in your loved one’s funeral or memorial service. Or you may find the poem to be an expression of your grief and be able to find solace in the words below.

 

Turn Again To Life By Mary Lee Hall

If I should die and leave you here a while,

Be not like others sore undone,

Who keep long vigil by the silent dust.

For my sake turn again to life and smile,

Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do

Something to comfort other hearts than thine.

Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine

And I perchance may therein comfort you.

 

When Great Trees Fall By Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,

rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down

in tall grasses,

and even elephants

lumber after safety.

When great trees fall

in forests,

small things recoil into silence,

their senses

eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,

the air around us becomes

light, rare, sterile.

We breathe, briefly.

Our eyes, briefly,

see with

a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened,

examines,

gnaws on kind words

unsaid,

promised walks

never taken.

Great souls die and

our reality, bound to

them, takes leave of us.

Our souls,

dependent upon their

nurture,

now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed

and informed by their

radiance,

fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance

of dark, cold

caves.

And when great souls die,

after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always

irregularly. Spaces fill

with a kind of

soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never

to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be

better. For they existed.

 

Seasons of Grief By Belinda Stotler

Shall I wither and fall like an autumn leaf,

From this deep sorrow – from this painful grief?

How can I go on or find a way to be strong?

Will I ever again enjoy life’s sweet song?

Sometimes a warm memory sheds light in the dark

And eases the pain like the song of a Meadow Lark.

Then it flits away on silent wings and I’m alone;

Hungering for more of the light it had shone.

Shall grief’s bitter cold sadness consume me,

Like a winter storm on the vast angry sea?

How can I fill the void and deep desperate need

To replant my heart with hope’s lovely seed?

Then I look at a photo of your playful smiling face

And for a moment I escape to a serene happy place;

Remembering the laughter and all you would do,

Cherishing the honest, caring, loving spirit of you.

Shall spring’s cheerful flowers bring life anew

And allow me to forget the agony of missing you?

Will spring’s burst of new life bring fresh hope

And teach my grieving soul how to cope?

Sometimes I’ll read a treasured card you had given me

And each word’s special meaning makes me see,

The precious gift of love I was fortunate to receive,

And I realize you’d never want to see me grieve.

Shall summer’s warm brilliant sun bring new light,

And free my anguished mind of its terrible plight?

Will its gentle breezes chase grief’s dark clouds away,

And show me a clear path towards a better day?

When I visit the grave where you lie in eternal peace,

I know that death and heaven brought you release;

I try to envision your joy on that shore across the sea,

And, until I join you, that’ll have to be enough for me.

For all the remaining seasons of my life on earth,

There’ll be days I’ll miss your merriment and mirth,

And sometimes I’ll sadly long for all the yesterdays;

Missing our chats and your gentle understanding ways.

Yet, the lessons of kindness and love you taught me,

And the good things in life you’ve helped me to see;

Linger as lasting gifts that comfort and will sustain,

Until I journey to that peaceful shore and see you again.

 

Death is nothing at all By Henry Scott-Holland

Death is nothing at all.

It does not count.

I have only slipped away into the next room.

Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.

I am I, and you are you,

and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.

Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.

Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.

Put no difference into your tone.

Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.

Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.

Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.

It is the same as it ever was.

There is absolute and unbroken continuity.

What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you, for an interval,

somewhere very near,

just round the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.

One brief moment and all will be as it was before.

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep By Mary Elizabeth Frye

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 glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die.

 

A Child Of Mine By Edgar Guest

I will lend you, for a little time,

A child of mine, He said.

For you to love the while he lives,

And mourn for when he’s dead.

It may be six or seven years,

Or twenty-two or three.

But will you, till I call him back,

Take care of him for Me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you,

And should his stay be brief.

You’ll have his lovely memories,

As solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,

Since all from earth return.

But there are lessons taught down there,

I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked the wide world over,

In search for teachers true.

And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes,

I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love,

Nor think the labour vain.

Nor hate me when I come

To take him home again?

I fancied that I heard them say,

‘Dear Lord, Thy will be done!’

For all the joys Thy child shall bring,

The risk of grief we’ll run.

We’ll shelter him with tenderness,

We’ll love him while we may,

And for the happiness we’ve known,

Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for him,

Much sooner than we’ve planned.

We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes,

And try to understand.

 

Time Does Not Bring Relief (Sonnet II) By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied

Who told me time would ease me of my pain!

I miss him in the weeping of the rain;

I want him at the shrinking of the tide;

The old snows melt from every mountain-side,

And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;

But last year’s bitter loving must remain

Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.

There are a hundred places where I fear

To go,—so with his memory they brim.

And entering with relief some quiet place

Where never fell his foot or shone his face

I say, “There is no memory of him here!”

And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

 

Remember By Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you plann’d:

Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.

 

The Bustle in a House By Emily Dickinson

The bustle in a house

The morning after death

Is solemnest of industries

Enacted upon earth, –

The sweeping up the heart

And putting love away

We shall not want to use again

Until eternity.

 

But not forgotten By Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967)

I think, no matter where you stray,

That I shall go with you a way.

Though you may wander sweeter lands,

You will not soon forget my hands,

Nor yet the way I held my head,

Nor all the tremulous things I said.

You still will see me, small and white

And smiling, in the secret night,

And feel my arms about you when

The day comes fluttering back again.

I think, no matter where you be,

You’ll hold me in your memory

And keep my image, there without me,

By telling later loves about me.

 

The Nightingale By Vivian Ross

My beautiful Mother, my Angel

Precious nightingale,

you are now free in Heaven

to sing and praise our Lord

without a worldly care.

I hope that GOD in all His Might

will in a dream let me see

how HE now in His arms

holds and fills you with

Eternal Joy and Peace.

To see you laugh

and hear you sing

in God’s presence

is my dream.

 

Sanctum By Beulah B. Malkin

I built a tiny garden

In a corner of my heart

I kept it just for lovely things

And bade all else depart

And ever was there music

And flowers blossomed fair;

And never was it perfect

Until you entered there

 

River of Sorrow By Todd Nigro

Drinking from the waters of sorrow

sustains a different kind of life.

This river is hidden

from the rest of the world.

Tears drip from my chin and fall into

an endless flow of liquid love.

This river sparkles with beauty.

 

The Thing Is By Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.

 

If I Could By G W (Bill) Marshall

If I could but see, again your face,

Oh how much my heart would race,

And nothing could ever efface,

The mem’ry of our last embrace.

If I could climb to Heaven’s gate

And just look in to watch awhile,

Then I know I could joyfully wait,

If I could see your happy smile.

If I could hear the song you sing

And your laughter bless my ears,

Then grief would lose its sting

And a smile would dry my tears.

But faith would lose its esteem,

And Heaven’d lose its stealth,

So we must be denied this dream,

If Heaven is to keep its wealth.

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