Funeral Poems: When to Craft Your Own and When to Choose Another Poet’s Piece
Funeral poems form part of the powerful ritual of commemorating the life of someone who has passed on. They may be used at funerals and memorials in addition to, or instead of, a eulogy. This form of poetry also connects those in grief with a symbolic tether, as all those hear the piece relate to its sentiment. Funeral poems can be uplifting and full of praise, or they can express anguish and bereavement. The experience of hearing poetry read aloud at a funeral is communal and creates a moment for all in mourning to share. It can be difficult to decide whether to write a piece to perform or to read a poem by another writer. If you are stuck deciding, have a look below as we explore which option is best suited to your circumstance.
The Benefits of Penning a Personal ElegyFuneral poems are deeply personal, whether they are written by someone who knows the deceased or not. If, however, you are seeking to say goodbye to someone you care about, there are benefits of writing a few verses of your own. These benefits include:
- A Highly Personal Farewell: The level of intimacy you share with someone you love is not often understood by other people. Saying goodbye is equally as intimate and personal. Sometimes people who have lost someone dear choose to write their own farewell poems because this is the greatest symbolism of intimacy and closeness they can express.
- A Cathartic Step Towards Closure: Poems express profound truths about what it means to be human, and there are few things as universally “human” as grieving. Poetic expression is thus incredibly healing for many. Writing and performing your own poem at a funeral (or even in private) can help you to navigate through your grief with deep introspection. This contemplative method of processing your emotions may bring you closer to closure and acceptance of your loss. .
- You Know the Audience Well: Some funerals and memorials are not packed with hundreds of attendees, but rather only a handful of close family and friends. Smaller groups mean you are more likely to know many guests in attendance. Funeral poems written by someone who knows both the deceased and the guests well, may have a more relevant impact, as it is penned with everyone’s loss in mind. Those hearing it may also take more comfort in the poem if they are close to the writer. .
- You Are Confident in Your Own Writing: Being a gifted poet or someone who enjoys writing is a major advantage, as it means you will contribute meaningfully to the event.
When to Read Someone Else’s WorkNot all people want to write a personal funeral poem or elegy – no matter how great a writer they are. If you are feeling hesitant about writing a farewell piece for someone, it might be because:
- You Did Not Know Them Well Enough: It is not uncommon for poets and writers to be asked to write for the funeral of an acquaintance or someone they do not know. This can sometimes be uncomfortable because the loss is not felt as deeply for a stranger, and mimicking those deep emotions may feel disingenuous.
- Words Fail You: Writing and performing a farewell poem is an emotionally charged task and can be difficult if one is grieving. Sometimes, there are no words to express the profound shock and sorrow of the loss, and writing for the sake of writing would feel insincere. For some people, the idea of performing a piece is too painful to bear and simply adds more to their emotional load than they can manage.
- Someone Else Said It Best: It is possible that another writer encapsulates your feelings of grief so accurately, that there is nothing to add to their words. There are thousands of poems on loss online and across various published works. Researching these pieces might mean you find the perfect composition for the occasion.