In Memory of My Mother Who Passed Away
Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet
We can’t avoid death. It’s the inevitable fate of every single one of us. And no matter how many times we face it, it doesn’t get any easier. As long as we draw breath, we will lose someone we love. It could be a friend, a treasured co-worker, someone whom we knew intimately and cared for dearly. It could be our brother or sister with whom we shared so many childhood memories. Worst of all, it could be a child, someone whom we took care of and helped grow and learn, or a parent who helped raise us and shape us into who we really are.
I’ve lost a lot of good people throughout the years. Very recently, my own mother passed away and I’m still finding ways to cope. But I know I’m not the only one. I know there are so many people out there who have lost their beloved mothers and who want to give them a proper send-off. For that reason, I decided to write and sell funeral poems. Of course, I did that in memory of my mother who passed away and it helped me get through an extremely difficult period. But I also did it to help my fellow men and women who want to honor their own mothers in the best way possible.
The Power of Poems
Poetry, in general, can be a powerful force. A well-written poem can melt a heart of steel, or even mend a broken one. It can lift our spirits and make us feel elated, or it can show us the deepest recesses of the human mind. Whether light or dark, poetry is a massive part of our collective culture that had, more often than not, been the voice of entire generations of people. So many different things can be expressed through verse and the pain of losing a loved one is right there at the very top.
Some of the best poets on this planet became famous precisely because they wrote amazing poems dedicated to lost loved ones. These are the same poets I looked into when I wanted to find and dedicate a poem in memory of my mother who passed away. Edgar Allan Poe is the first to come to mind, and I don’t even have to cite which poems of his deal with this subject. I’m pretty sure my readers already have several of them in mind. Maya Angelou and Dylan Thomas also wrote amazing verse about the passing of a loved one. Robert Burns, Rabindranath Tagore, and W. H. Auden also come to mind. In fact, even ancient authors such as Gaius Valerius Catullus dedicated their immortal lines to their fallen kin.
Death has always been a fascinating topic for poets. So, in memory of my mother who passed away, I decided to delve deeper into the craft of the verse.
What Falls Under Funeral Poetry?
If we were to Google ‘funeral poetry’, we would get hundreds of pages of results. However, before I began writing, I noticed one important detail. Namely, there wasn’t a single web page that went into detail about funeral poetry as a concept. In other words, I couldn’t find any definitions, any official information that goes knee-deep into the topic. For that reason, I wanted to provide my readers with as much information as possible about funeral poems and I wanted to do it right. After all, I am doing it in memory of my mother who passed away and I know she would have appreciated me being thorough.
Funeral poems are exactly what their name suggests. They are poems written as eulogies and their main goal is to give a loved one the proper send-off which they deserve.
But the definition shouldn’t stop there. I know for a fact that there are a lot of ways to approach funeral poetry. There are so many different variations, so many choices that I would do them an injustice if I didn’t mention them.
But before I move forward, I should stress one detail. Funeral poems are a very popular way to eulogize a loved one. In fact, according to a study by Co-op Funeralcare, over ¾ of funeral directors claim that funeral poetry is the most common part of a eulogy. That number just goes to show us how impactful poems can really be during a time of stress and sorrow. It also told me that I was doing the same thing in memory of my mother who passed away that so many other people did as well.
- Popular, ‘Stock’ Choices
- Long Poems
- Short Poems
- Religious Poems
- Non-Religious Poems
- Funny & Humorous Poems
Popular Stock Poems
This category isn’t really that clearly defined, at least when it comes to structure or themes. It’s really more of a group of popular poems that a lot of people seem to choose. It’s a bit like having someone sing Amazing Grace or the Parting Glass. The choices are beautiful, but everyone has done them. Of course, the examples I gave are not poems, but songs. The reason I did so is that there are so many popular funeral poems out there, too many to count.
Now don’t get me wrong. If I want to have a poem in memory of my mother who passed away, I’ll write it myself. But if there are people who like having a ‘stock poem’ read as a part of a eulogy, that’s perfectly fine. After all, these poems are popular for a reason. They are by no means bad bits of poetry and they do pack quite an emotional punch. It works even better if our loved one actually liked that poem. At the end of the day, the poem has to fit the funeral in a natural, unobtrusive way. So really, nobody should care if it’s a stock poem, in a sense, as long as it gets the message across.
Sometimes we have a lot of things to unload off our chest. We want the world to know that we had a long, beautiful history with the deceased and a long poem will perfectly capture that. It’s an impressive final goodbye and a lovely gesture. In addition, it works even better if we were the author ourselves. There’s something deep and loving about a relative taking the time to write and/or read a long-form poem.
There might be one small setback with long poetry. Namely, not everyone is used to listening to it. Some poems tend to drag on and on and people just tune out. That might be something that we need to keep in mind if we plan on reading a long poem as part of our eulogy. It’s also something I personally took to heart. If I want a poem in memory of my mother who passed away, I don’t want it to bore or annoy people. Mom would have hated that, honestly.
A short funeral poem usually has just a single stanza, two at most. These poems are effective and always a good ‘safe bet’ for any funeral. With a short poem, we get to the point quickly. More importantly, it will have an incredibly strong first impact because of how short it is. And it’s not just the grieving folks who feel that impact. Any listener at a funeral will relate to the poem instantly with vivid memories of the deceased. I felt that way myself when I was at the funeral of my best friend’s father. The short poem he chose was so powerful that it made me tear up the second he finished reading it.
Of course, it’s difficult to choose the right short poem for the job. After all, it’s incredibly hard to relate a poem to a loved one with just one stanza. It’s even more difficult to write a short funeral poem by ourselves. Any poet will more than agree with that. The shortest poems I’ve written in memory of my mother who passed away gave me just as much difficulty as the long ones, so I can also speak from experience.
To a religious household, afterlife plays a major role. There are strong spiritual themes that a person connects with, themes of everlasting peace and leaving this material earth for good. In fact, it’s one of the key religious aspects that all major world faiths have in common.
Whether our loved ones are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hinduist or they practice any other faith out there, we need to reflect their beliefs in our funeral poems. If they were a devout believer, there would be no greater honor than to have that reflected in verse. I’ll use one example to illustrate what I mean.
Here in the West, we put a lot of emphasis on Christian funeral poetry. So if a loved one is a family member, we should emphasize everything that made them a good person in a Christian sense. A father, for example, is an important figure in our life. Christian fathers raise their children because it is their duty to the Lord. They are sowing the seeds of a new generation that will follow the Word of Christ. With that in mind, our funeral poem will reflect this man’s virtues as a caring, devout father. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. The poetry we choose will represent this father of ours as a kind, generous individual — a man whose deeds far surpassed his words.
We can apply all of the above to any family member or a friend, of any religious denomination. Above all else, it’s important to find the right words and send the right message.
Just as there are religious households, there are also those that choose not to believe in any deity. However, even atheists and agnostics grieve for their loved ones. They too need to cope with the loss in the best way possible. More importantly, a non-religious person can and should eulogize the people in their life who passed away. That’s why poetry is such a powerful tool. It can help soothe any soul out there, religious or not.
With a non-religious poem, it’s important to find something that will speak about the person directly. Something that will best describe who they were while they were alive. Vivid imagery and powerful meter can evoke a lot of strong emotions. The only real difference between these and religious poems is the underlying theme. Religious poems relate to a higher power, while non-religious ones focus on the person themselves. They can achieve this with any literary device a poet might use.
Themes are usually quite similar in non-religious funeral poems. The ones I hear most often use a lot of images relating to nature, with vivid flora and fauna. They emphasize that nature is cyclical, that death and life are a major part of everyone’s life. Other times they would focus on the person and talk about their virtues. They would highlight the best this man or woman had to offer and ask us to remember them at their best. Of course, the themes and topics are vast and I can’t even begin to list them all here.
Funny, Witty Poems
This might seem shocking to some of my readers, but there are people who use humor to eulogize their loved ones. I personally wouldn’t read a funny poem in memory of my mother who passed away, but I have nothing against people who do.
Now, when it comes to humor at a funeral, it should be in good taste. Naturally, if the person was someone who reveled in raunchy humor, we can skip this rule. I still remember the eulogy that the actor John Cleese read out at the funeral of his fellow Monty Python co-star Graham Chapman. And of course, I will always laugh at his famous words ‘Good riddance to him, that freeloading bastard, I hope he fries,’ and the fact that he was the first person ever to say ‘f**k’ at a British memorial service.
But how would a person choose the best witty poem for their loved one? I’d suggest choosing the one that best fits their personality. Chapman was an actor who loved shock value, so of course, his eulogy would be just as sharp. Other people might love puns or observational humor. A poem with good wordplay might be the way to go there. I also recall a friend of mine who wanted to write something about his departed cousin. This man loved slapstick humor, so the poem dedicated to him had an interesting stanza about his coffin tumbling down the stairs.
Good, sharp wit is always important, even in the time of great grief. But to that particular person, there would be no greater honor than to make people laugh even beyond the grave.
Should I Write the Poem?
Honestly, my answer will always be ‘yes’ to this question. I’ve written poems in memory of my mother who passed away and I did it because she meant the world to me. It was simply something that had to be done by me and nobody else. A good portion of my readers will understand what I mean. Losing a loved one can be tough. It’s one of those things that we always take personally, so it stands to reason that we should be the ones writing the verse.
But I know that not everyone is a poet. Not everyone can write and if they had to force themselves to do it, the poem would just look bad. More importantly, it won’t genuinely show the respect they had for their loved one. Honestly, no poetry is far better than bad poetry. That’s partly the reason why I decided to help people out with these funeral poems of mine. I want everyone to be able to give their loved ones a proper send-off in verse. And if these poems of mine help them through this tough time, I will be more than happy that I undertook this task.
For Writers: How Do I Approach This?
Step 1: Choose the Format
I’ve listed different types of funeral poems above. However, they are just a starting point. There are many other types out there and we need to find what works for us.
Of course, it all starts with research. When I wanted to write a piece in memory of my mother who passed away, I browsed dozens of websites. In addition, I went over many volumes of poetry. It was difficult, but I still managed to find what I needed.
When I say ‘choose the format’, what I mean is ‘choose the structure and the length of the poem.’ Novice writers might want to try with short poems. They aren’t easy to write, but it’s better than starting with a long one. Also, it’s important to pick the type of verse that fits the writer the best. If they prefer free verse, that’s perfectly fine. Rhyming, however, sounds nicer, but it is a bit more difficult to write.
Once we have the format and the structure down, we need a theme. Let’s go over that below.
Step 2: Choose the Theme
When we write, we must always have our departed loved one on our mind. Sure, the poem can come from our own perspective, but it should reflect the person we’re eulogizing. That’s why themes are important.
I should stress that the poem doesn’t have to be direct. What do I mean by this? Well, we don’t have to openly write about the life and passing of the loved one. We don’t have to go over their daily routines, their likes and dislikes, their virtues and their good deeds. Even I avoided doing this when I wrote poems in memory of my mother who passed away. Sometimes an abstract poem can be just as impactful. We can say anything we want to say through a poem that, for example, focuses on a bird in flight or a leaf in the forest. What we really want is to evoke powerful emotions that we feel after the loved one’s passing. Writing poems in memory of my mother who passed away has taught me this lesson directly.
Step 3: Have Someone Help
If we have access to an editor or proofreader, it would help us make the poem stand out even better. They can go over it and correct any potential mistake we make during writing. That’s why it’s a good idea to have several drafts of the poem. Naturally, that can be difficult, especially since we don’t have a lot of time to do it after the person’s passing.
Fortunately, there are online services where we can hire professional proofreaders. It takes a click of a button and doesn’t cost a whole lot. And since they are handling a poem, proofreading will not take them a long time.
For Non-Writers: How Do I Pick the Right Poem?
Choosing someone else’s poem for your loved one is just as difficult as writing it. Especially since there are so many poems out there. I’ve honestly run into websites that had top 100 lists of funeral poems. And with internet publishing growing fast, more and more poems keep coming up.
Of course, the easiest solution is picking a poem from a famed author like Poe or Auden. However, I would advise not doing it if they’re not a perfect fit. I combed over hundreds of poems to use in memory of my mother who passed away not long ago. The reason I chose to write poetry instead is that I simply didn’t find a finished poem that would fit.
But despite what I just said, it’s important not to give up. Yes, there are millions of poems out there, but that also means there are millions of great choices. In other words, there’s definitely a poem somewhere that will fit anyone. The best way to go about it is to Google the exact type of poem we need. If we want a witty funeral poem, that’s what we type in the search engine. Also, we might try and look for poetry collections on retail websites that can help. They’re usually not very expensive and they can contain some of the most beautiful undiscovered poetry.
Is the Poem Just For My Loved One?
Throughout the text, I spoke about the poems I wrote in memory of my mother who passed away. I made it clear that the poem should fit the deceased and that it should have an impact. But I’ve often heard one question from my readers. They would often ask me if it’s okay to write or buy a poem that relates not to their loved one passing, but to their own grief.
Allow me to talk to you directly here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you wanting a poem for yourself while you grieve for your lost friend or family member. Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently. We all have different ways of coping with death and as long as it isn’t dangerous or illegal, everything you do is valid.
A well-crafted poem can help you accept the death of a loved one and move on. It can also lift your spirits and get you that emotional boost that you needed. I know because I speak from personal experience. Yes, I’ve written poems in memory of my mother who passed away and yes, most of them are about her. But I’ve written plenty of poems about my own grief. It was just something I needed to put on paper in order to move on. So again, I reiterate — you absolutely can write or buy a poem that helps you with your own grief. It’s not selfish, it’s not self-centered and it doesn’t make you a bad person.
I started this text talking about coping with death and using poetry to give our loved ones a proper send-off. With that in mind, I hope that my readers can put my poetry to good use. Whether you’re reading the poem for a loved one or for your own benefit, I sincerely hope that it helps.