Funeral Poems for My Parents

Been a tough couple of years for me, losing my Dad suddenly then seeing cancer take my mum away. As the literary one of the family it fell to me to read at their funerals, and I couldn’t just pull something from a book, so I wrote my own poems. They were in some ways the hardest poems to write, because as well as expressing my own feelings, I wanted people to understand them and be touched by them as well – and not just “poetry” people, but family, etc. For some reason, as I read the last lines of each poem at these funerals space 18 months apart, I turned towards, and directly addressed the coffin. I realised later it was, in essence, because the poems were a form of last goodbye.

I was not really going to publish them on my poetry blog (which has been neglected of late) but I showed one to somebody and they said other people might appreciate them, as there appear to be stock funeral poems that people always use, and these were a little different, so maybe people might be able to use them in some way.

I don’t know if that’s true, but if you do stumble across these little poems, and feel you could use them for a memorial service, feel free to adapt and use them as you wish.

Sailor. For Dad – 1934-2007

You sailed into this world
Seventy-two years ago,
And your life unfurled
Like the sails of ships
On the seas you loved.
As you journeyed we got to know
You for a while as you slipped
Between the islands of our lives
And stayed a while to laugh and love
In the harbour of our hearts.
But now it’s time to sail again,
To say goodbye, to bid farewell.
As you sail from shore a final time
We’ll keep love warm as you journey on
Until the day we sail ourselves.
Father, husband, granddad, friend,
Sail on, you’re free, sail on.

The Laughing Girl. For Mum – 1934-2009

Where did she go, the laughing girl,
The dancing queen with her cheeky smile,
The bonny lass we loved?

Her voice is quiet, her body still,
She fell asleep and will not wake,
I’ll tell you where she went;

She’s gone to find the laughing boy,
Her flame haired sailor and his smile,
They’re happy now but far, so faraway.

And yet we do not lose them,
They leave behind some essence,
In rush of leaves or swell of sea,

Light of moon or warmth of sun,
Each splash of rain, each waking flower,
And always in our minds and hearts.

You’ll always be here inside us –
And in our hearts you’ll
Be forever dancing, in the stars.

Mum loved to dance, but for the last 2 years of her life she couldn’t even walk.

I hope you’re dancing now, Mum.