If you’re considering reading a poem at a funeral but can’t find anything that really expresses the way you feel, you may want to think about writing your own. Not only does this give you the opportunity to create something extremely personal for the funeral, but it can help you process emotions and ideas you may be struggling with in the wake of your loss. Both reading and writing poetry often exposes us to challenging thoughts and feelings and also gives us a moment to think about what has taken place. This can make it a therapeutic activity that results in a personal piece of work that truly expresses how you feel about the deceased. With this in mind, we take a look at how to go about writing your own funeral poem.

Girl sitting in grass writing funeral poems

 

Process

People write in a variety of styles and will go about the process of crafting a poem in completely different ways. When beginning your writing, don’t worry too much about the form and structure of the poem and just get things down on the page. It’s best to get your good ideas down in writing before you start to fit them to a particular meter or rhyme scheme, so let your imagination wander and note down any particular thoughts, feelings, images or ideas that come to mind. From there, you can start to shape these into poetry.

 

Theme

A good way to begin to focus your poem is by thinking about the the overarching theme. Do you want your poem to be about life, loss, grief, love or the afterlife? How do you want people to react to your poem? With laughter, tears or both? Once you’ve come to a decision about the general theme, you can begin to focus and edit your poem so it’s more about a specific emotion or sensation.

 

Inspiration

In order to make your poem personal, you can draw inspiration from your memories of the deceased, their habits, personality traits or anything that comes to mind when you think about them. Though it will be your personal recollections that give the poem its emotional power, it’s also a good idea to think about how you can make the poem resonate with the audience. This means ensuring everyone is able to recognise the deceased in your words.

 

Structure

Finally, you need to think about the structure of your poem. Do you want to employ a particular rhyme scheme? Does your poem have a strong rhythm? Are you happy with how it reads? Take a look at other poems to find out what you like and don’t like, then try and adapt your poem to that style. If you’re really struggling for ideas, try writing in rhyming couplets. This is where the last word of every two lines rhymes, before changing to a different rhyme for the next two lines. A good example of this is WH Auden’s Funeral Blues.

 

Funeral Blues – WH Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.

Silence the pianos and, with muffled drum,

Bring out the coffin. Let the mourners come.

 

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling in the sky the message: “He is dead!”

Put crepe bows around the white necks of the public doves.

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

 

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

 

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one.

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can come to any good.

 

Good luck, and let us know in the comments below how you got along writing your own funeral poem.

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