Poems and readings for Funerals and Memorials

Death is the greatest teacher of all.
Greater than all human philosophies.
Truer than any religion.

Death strips away the lies, the pretence.
Death makes a mockery of our resentment.
It burns our greed, grudges and grievances.

Death invites us to be utterly present.
To let go.
To forgive.
To meet, without history.

Death makes it plain that only love matters.
That only love makes life worth living.
And all else is dust.

Death is a ruthless portal.
Worldly riches are powerless against it.
Hatred cannot survive it.
Only love can pass through.

We return to our True Nature.
The cycle is complete.

- Jeff Foster

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly 
let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft
my voice so tender
my need of God
absolutely clear.
~ Hafiz

Your body is away from me
But there is a window open
from my heart to yours.
From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.  
~ Rumi

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
~ Dawna Markova, from I Will Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

John O’Donohue

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.


Expecting the worst, you look, and instead
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.


Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.


If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you’d be paralyzed.


Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,


the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings.


~ Rumi

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