Remembered Joy. Irish funeral poem. Image copyright Ireland Calling
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.
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May the light of heaven shine on your grave.
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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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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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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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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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When the Irish perform a wake, a window must be immediately opened to allow the spirit to escape and closed no more than two hours later to prevent their return. A group of women normally bathe the body and prepare their clothing. The deceased is normally viewed in the best home of the kitchen rather it be the living room or even kitchen. Additional traditions include the covering of mirrors, ceasing the time on clocks, and placing candles above the head. After the funeral, the Irish like to typically head to the pub. The following collection of Irish blessings for funerals can be shared during the time of the deceased celebration.
Christ be with me, be after me, be before me, and be at my right and left hand. May everything I do be for Christ.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; Love leaves a memory no one can steal.
For each petal on the shamrock. This brings a wish your way good health, good luck, and happiness for today and every day.
He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses more; He who loses faith, loses all.
Here’s to beefsteak when you’re hungry, Whiskey when you’re dry, All the women you’ll ever want, And heaven when you die.
Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter. Lullabies, dreams and love ever after. A thousand welcomes when anyone comes… That’s the Irish for You!
May brooks and trees and singing hills Join in the chorus too, And every gentle wind that blows Send happiness to you.
May God be with you and bless you, May you see your children’s children, May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings. May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.
May God grant you always… A sunbeam to warm you, A moonbeam to charm you, A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.
May God grant you many years to live, For sure he must be knowing. The earth has angels all too few. And heaven is overflowing.
May good luck be your friend in whatever you do. And may trouble be always a stranger to you.
May joy and peace surround you, Contentment latch your door, And happiness be with you now, And bless you evermore.
May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home. May good and faithful friends be yours,
May peace and plenty be the first, To lift the latch to your door. And happiness be guided to your home, By the candle of Christmas.
May St. Patrick guard you wherever you go, and guide you in whatever you do– and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always.
May the blessings of light be upon you, Light without and light within. And in all your comings and goings, May you ever have a kindly greeting From them you meet on the road.
May the good saints protect you, And bless you today. And may troubles ignore you, Each step of the way.
May the hand of a friend always be near you, And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
May the Irish hills caress you. May her lakes and rivers bless you. May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.
May the joys of today Be those of tomorrow. The goblets of life Hold no dregs of sorrow.
May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. And rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
May the roof above us never fall in. And may the friends gathered below it never fall out.
May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.
May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun. And find your shoulder to light on. To bring you luck, happiness and riches. Today, tomorrow and beyond.
May there be a generation of children On the children of your children.
May you always walk in sunshine. May you never want for more. May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.
May you always have work for your hands to do.May your pockets hold always a coin or two. May the sun shine bright on your windowpane. May the rainbow be certain.
May you enjoy the four greatest blessings: Honest work to occupy you. A hearty appetite to sustain you. A good woman to love you. And a wink from the God above.
May you have love that never ends, lots of money, and lots of friends. Health be yours, whatever you do, and may God send many blessings to you!
May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, And the road downhill all the way to your door.
May you live as long as you want, And never want as long as you live.
May you live long, Die happy, And rate a mansion in heaven.
May your blessings outnumber The shamrocks that grow. And may trouble avoid you Wherever you go.
May your feet never sweat, your neighbor give you ne’re a treat. When flowers bloom, I hope you’ll not sneeze, and may you always have someone to squeeze!
May your heart be warm and happy With the lilt of Irish laughter Every day in every way And forever and ever after.
May your neighbors respect you, Trouble neglect you, The angels protect you, And heaven accept you.
May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light. May good luck pursue you each morning and night.
May your troubles be less, And your blessing be more. And nothing but happiness, Come through your door.
These things, I warmly wish for you- Someone to love, some work to do, A bit of o’ sun, a bit o’ cheer. And a guardian angel always near.
Until we meet again, may God Hold you in the palm of his hand.
Walls for the wind, and a roof for the rain, and drinks beside the fire – laughter to cheer you and those you love near you, and all that your heart may desire!
wherever you may roam. May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures. May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!
A traditional Irish wake focused on not only the moment of sadness over the passing of a loved one, but a joyous celebrating as well. The body is initially waked in the home of the decreased for at least one night where family stays and friends can visit to pay their respects. This one last party done at the time of death was popular for centuries until the mid 1900’s. The below infographic outlines the traditional guidelines to have an Irish wake.