By • 3 August 2020
When asked to talk about someone who passed away, some people get anxious and overwhelmed with the task of honoring someone through words. After all, gifts of words are sometimes the hardest to give, especially if you’re not used to expressing how you feel and what you think in front of people.
If you’re not comfortable with directly talking or writing about how you feel about the deceased, one way to deliver your funeral speech or express your feelings is through poems.
Poems are forms of writing that use figurative language. Poems or poetry is a “form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language,” according to Wikipedia.
What makes poems so apt for funerals is they are expressive and therapeutic. They make you use your imagination to remember special memories about a loved one who passed way. It naturally evokes complex emotions as you begin to gather your ideas and use beautiful, meaningful words to paint pictures of your thoughts and feelings in the listener’s mind.
In addition to being naturally expressive and creative, poems are ideal for funerals because they help develop a sense of empathy and teaches listeners to see the meaning and beauty of life, suggests John Coleman, co-author of Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders, on Harvard Business Review. Moments of grief and loss call for both empathy and contemplation of life, which poems encourage.
If you choose to use poems for a funeral speech, decide whether you want to write your own poem, if you want one to become a part of your speech, or if you want it to be your entire piece.
Writing your own poem? Remember that there are no hard and fast rules for writing a funeral poem. It doesn’t have to rhyme or follow a certain style. Here are some quick tips:
Think of your theme. What is the theme of your poem? Of course, it is about the deceased, but you need to be specific. Is it about a particular experience with him during a summer camp? Or a time where this person helped you get through a difficult situation?
Make a list of descriptions that remind you of the person. The description doesn’t have to be literal. Metaphors and similes can be useful here. She was as graceful as a swan (Simile). My husband was always the rock in the family (Metaphor). Stay away from commonly used phrases that may diminish the meaning of the poem. These descriptions can make up the lines of your poem.
Think of elements that remind you of the deceased. It can be a color, a song, a living thing found in nature, and many others. It should have a positive connotation and association with the deceased.
Have between 20 to 30 lines. Oprah.com suggests writing a poem between 20 to 30 lines, with each line being at least 10 syllables long.
Read poems, psalms, and other forms of poetry for inspiration. The best time to write a poem is when emotions are high or when you feel inspired to write. But if you find yourself staring on a blank document for hours, you can get inspiration by reading poems or listening to songs. Notice how a song’s lyrics can be poetic. You can also go through the deceased’s photos, social media pages, or online memorial pages to help you remember precious memories.
If you are looking for poems for funerals that you can read or include in your speech, you can check out sites like Lasting Post or Poets.org. Both sites have a database of funeral poems with different themes to choose from.