What though the radiance
which was once so bright
Be now forever taken
from my sight,
Though nothing
can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind. William Wordsworth





More information about humanist ceremonies from Humanists UK
Supporter of The Natural Death Centre

Humanist Funeral Poems

Here is a selection of Humanist Funeral Poems and Readings that are appropriate for a humanist funeral ceremony.

A Life Well Lived

A life well lived is a precious gift
Of hope and strength and grace,
From someone who has made our world
A brighter, better place

It’s filled with moments, sweet and sad
With smiles and sometimes tears,
With friendships formed and good times shared
And laughter through the years.

A life well lived is a legacy
Of joy and pride and pleasure,
A living, lasting memory
Our grateful hearts we’ll treasure

At every turning of my life
I came across
Good friends,
Friends who stood by me
Even when the time raced me by.

Farewell, farewell
My friends
I smile and
Bid you goodbye.
No, shed no tears
For I need them not
All I need is your smile.

If you feel sad
Do think of me
For that’s what I’ll like.
When you live in the hearts
Of those you love
Remember then
You never die.

Rabindranath Tagore

Four Candles

The first candle represents our grief.
The pain of losing you is intense
It reminds us of the depth of our love for you.

The second candle represents our courage.
to confront our sorrow,
comfort each other,
and to change our lives.

This third candle we light in your memory.
For the times we laughed,
The times we cried,
The times we were angry with each other,
The silly things you did,
The caring and joy you gave us.

The fourth candle we light for our love.
We light this candle that your light will always shine
As we enter this sad time and share this day of remembering
with family and friends.
We cherish the special place in our hearts
That will always be reserved for you.

We thank you for the gift
Your living brought each of us.

I am there

Look for me when the tide is high
And the gulls are wheeling overhead
When the autumn wind sweeps the cloudy sky
And one by one the leaves are shed

Look for me when the tide is high
And the gulls are wheeling overhead
When the autumn wind sweeps the cloudy sky
And one by one the leaves are shed

I am there, where the river flows
And the salmon leap to a silver moon
Where the insects hum and the tall grass grows
And sunlight warms the afternoon

I am there in the busy street
I take your hand in the city square
In the market place where the people meet
In your quiet room – I am there

I am the love you cannot see
And all I ask is – look for me.

Iris Hesselden

Something Beautiful Remains

The tide recedes
But leaves behind
Bright shells on the seashore.

The sun goes down
But gentle warmth
Still lingers on the land.

The music stops and yet
It lingers on in sweet refrains –
For every joy that passes
Something beautiful remains.

The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak,
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on his coffin
From the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came his date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That he spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved him
Know what that little line is worth

For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

Linda Ellis

He is gone

You can shed tears that he is gone,
Or you can smile because he lived,
You can close your eyes and dream that he will come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared,
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on,
You can cry and close your mind
be empty and turn your back,
Or you can do what he would want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

Adapted version by David Harkins

For further inspiration for humanist funeral poems please see Natural Endings and Grief and Sympathy