Irish poems and blessings for funerals

Funerals are, of course, the saddest of occasions, yet they often produce wonderfully warm and life-affirming poems and blessings.

Many are written from the perspective of the deceased leaving a message to those left behind to mourn. So often the message is positive, urging mourners not to grieve for too long, but rather to remember the good times and to make sure they live their own lives to the full.

Other popular themes are asking mourners not to wear dark clothes, or speak in hushed tones, and not to be afraid to smile or laugh.

Many other funeral poems are told from the viewpoint of the mourners. God may be urged to look after the loved one who has just died, or the poem may express the much-loved view that the deceased isn’t really gone. He or she lives on in our hearts and minds; their memory will never die.

These are some of our favourite inspirational funeral poems and blessings from Ireland and around the world. They may be sad and moving, but they are also life-affirming and uplifting at the same time.

Irish funeral poem. Those we love don't go away. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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May the light of heaven shine on your grave.
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Irish funeral poem. If roses grow in heaven. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Do not stand at my grave and weep has universal appeal. It is a poem written in 1932 by Mary Elizabeth Frye, an American born in Ohio. It’s included here as it has universal appeal. She originally wrote this on a brown paper bag.

She was inspired to write it after getting to know a young Jewish girl, Margaret Schwarzkopf, who had been living in the Frye home, and hadn’t been able to visit her dying mother in Germany because of anti-Semitic unrest.

Frye never published or copyrighted the poem, but shared it among her friends.

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there… I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow…
I am the diamond glints on snow…
I am the sunlight on ripened grain…
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of gentle birds in circling flight…
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry—
I am not there… I did not die.
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Irish funeral poem. Remembered Joy. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Read the full poem ‘Remembered Joy’ here

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I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow 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;
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.
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Irish funeral poem. May the good earth be soft under you. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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If I should die before the rest of you,
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone.
Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice,
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must,
Parting is hell.
But life goes on,
So… sing as well.
Joyce Grenfell, British actress and writer (1910 – 1979)
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Irish funeral poem. May you see God's light on the path ahead. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Feel no guilt in laughter

Feel no guilt in laughter, he’d know how much you care.
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.
You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to.
He’d hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the way you showed you cared,
The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.
Let memories surround you, a word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day,
That brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,
And fills you with the feeling that he is always near.
For if you keep those moments, you will never be apart
And he will live forever locked safely within your heart.
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Irish funeral poem. He is not lost our dearest love. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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