The AVBOB Poetry Competition | Why Funeral Poems Can Offer a More Meaningful Goodbye

Why Funeral Poems Can Offer a More Meaningful Goodbye

When someone tells us that a loved one has passed on, it is often exceedingly difficult to find the right words of comfort to say. This is because offering condolences, baking a casserole, and gifting a sympathy card simply does not ease the grief. There is nothing that can be said that will lighten the load or bring a loved one back. This loss can never be undone and finding a way to process this information is not only traumatic, it is confusing too. Well-chosen funeral poems recognise that no words will ever remedy the loss, but they can aid in offering solidarity to those left behind as well as a profound send-off for a life beautifully lived.

A Powerful, Ancient Ritual

The arts have always been a lifeblood to humankind. Ancient civilisations are not so different to modern culture in this regard – we dance in celebration at weddings, sing songs of worship at religious gatherings, and find comfort in a maudlin song when we experience loss. At our most vulnerable, we welcome art and the emotion it stirs within us. Artistic expression is a significant aspect of what it means to be human, and so, at the loss of a beautiful human life, we say goodbye with artistic rituals, such as music and poem readings. Personal funeral poems, in particular, offer a way for family and friends to bond by honouring the life of their loved one. It also gives us the opportunity to cleave to the comforting thread of emotional honesty that bereavement presents.

Contemplation Helps to Interpret Grief

Have you ever read a poem you did not at first understand? As your eyes dance over the words, you search for their hidden meaning – like a secret you have yet to discover. Then there is the type of poem that, even though you cannot be totally sure of the writer’s intentions, speaks to you on a primal level; you just get it, even if others do not. This kind of contemplation, whether adding our own meaning to a written piece or strongly relating to a poem, is what makes funeral poems so important. On some level or another, the audience is coaxed into exploring the meaning of their loss, how it relates to their life, and various ways to feel about it. Interpreting another’s feelings on the matter helps us to interpret our own, and perhaps not feel so alone in this confusing sorrow.

Looking for Beauty in Darkness

Death itself is not lovely. It is brutal and unforgiving, often catching those in its presence by an unwelcome surprise. Seeing past this darkness, however, is possible. There was loveliness in the life of the one who has passed on, memories of laughter, and the positive legacy they left behind. Funeral poems explore these uplifting facts, enabling the audience to see through the fog of grief. Such poems create a beacon of hope that helps each listener navigate their way to small comforts.

If you are seeking to write a funeral piece, or just want some inspiration or comfort of your own, have a look at our poem library for a few, remarkable submitted pieces from entrants of The AVBOB Poetry Project.