Share this article
facebook icon email icon sms icon copy icon

45 Meaningful Funeral Readings

Finding the appropriate readings for a funeral service can be a challenging task, as it is crucial to choose passages that pay tribute to the life of the deceased, provide comfort and hope to grieving family and friends, and align with the values and beliefs of the deceased. While there are many options available, certain readings have become popular choices for funeral services due to their powerful messages of comfort, solace, and hope. Here is some guidance, as well as suggestions on popular funeral readings to get you started.

What are funeral readings and why are they used?

Funeral readings are literary passages or verses that are read or recited during a funeral or memorial service to honor the life and memory of the deceased. These readings can come from various sources, such as religious texts, poetry, or prose, and can be chosen based on the preferences of the deceased or their family. Non-denominational funeral readings often offer words of comfort, hope, and reflection, and can be a way for family and friends to express their love and appreciation for the person who has passed away. They can also provide a way for mourners to find solace and peace during their time of grief.

Funeral scripture readings are an important part of many Christian funerals, as they ground the mourners in their faith and offer up important guidance in their time of grief. Passages from the Bible can offer words of wisdom and reassurance that help mourners make sense of their loss and find solace in their faith. They remind the bereaved of the promise of eternal life, the hope of being reunited with our loved ones in heaven, and the comforting presence of God in times of sorrow. Moreover, Bible readings for funerals help to create a sense of community among the mourners by offering a shared experience and a common language for expressing grief and finding comfort. Overall, the use of scripture readings at funerals is an essential aspect of many religious and cultural traditions and can play a significant role in supporting those who are mourning the loss of a loved one.

Is it necessary to have readings for funerals?

Having readings at a funeral is not strictly necessary, as the format of a funeral can vary heavily depending on personal and cultural preferences. However, the use of readings can help to create a meaningful and reflective atmosphere that honors the life of the deceased and offers solace to the mourners. Additionally, readings can provide a shared experience and a common language for expressing grief and finding comfort, which can be useful during a time when many find it difficult to find the right words to say. Ultimately, whether or not to include readings in a funeral service is a personal choice that depends on individual beliefs and preferences, but they can be a helpful and meaningful addition to the service.

Do the readings for a funeral have to be religious?

The choice of readings for a funeral service is ultimately up to the family and their preferences. While religious readings are common in many funeral services, they are not mandatory. Non-religious readings, such as poems, quotes, or personal anecdotes, can also be used to honor the life of the deceased and offer comfort to the mourners. The most important consideration is that the chosen readings are meaningful and appropriate for the occasion. Whether religious or non-religious, the readings should offer comfort, hope, and guidance to those who are grieving, and reflect the personality and values of the person who has passed away. Ultimately, the choice of readings should be a reflection of the wishes of the family and what they believe will best honor their loved one.

Following are a list of popular funeral readings that can help you pinpoint what readings you can incorporate if you’re planning a service. Choices range from Catholic funeral mass readings with heavy reliance on the Bible to non-denominational memorial service readings for those who want something different. No matter your background or interests, you’re sure to find some inspiration below.

Catholic funeral readings

Readings for Catholic funerals provide comfort and solace to those who have lost their loved ones. These readings are carefully selected to offer hope and guidance to mourners during their time of grief. They include passages from the Bible, such as the Book of Wisdom, which speaks about the rewards of righteousness and the promise of eternal life. Some Catholic funeral readings also recognize the special role that mothers play in our lives, and offer words of comfort and gratitude to those who have lost their mothers. For example, the Book of Sirach speaks about the importance of honoring our mothers and how their love and care is a precious gift from God.

  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 - "A Time for Everything"
  • Psalm 23 - "The Lord is My Shepherd"
  • John 14:1-6 - "Jesus Comforts His Disciples"
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - "Those Who Have Fallen Asleep in Christ"
  • Wisdom 3:1-9 - "The Destiny of the Righteous"

Old Testament funeral readings

Old Testament funeral passages typically include Psalms, Proverbs, or other Old Testament books, and often focus on the themes of life, death, and the afterlife. They may also touch on the idea of divine judgment, offering reassurance that the deceased will be judged fairly and justly in the eyes of God. Some common themes include the importance of family, the value of righteousness and justice, and the promise of eternal life.

  • Psalm 90:1-12 - "Teach Us to Number Our Days"
  • Job 19:23-27 - "My Redeemer Lives"
  • Isaiah 25:6-9 - "The Lord Will Swallow Up Death Forever"
  • Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 - "Remember Your Creator in the Days of Your Youth"
  • Psalm 121 - "The Lord My Keeper"

New Testament funeral readings

Passages from the New Testament may include the Gospels, Epistles, or other books of the New Testament, and often focus on the themes of life, death, and resurrection. They typically illustrate the fact that the deceased will be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. Other themes found in New Testament funeral readings include the importance of love and compassion, the promise of eternal life, and the idea that death is not the end, but rather a new beginning.

  • John 14:1-6 - "Jesus Comforts His Disciples"
  • Romans 8:31-39 - "God's Everlasting Love"
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 - "The Way of Love"
  • 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 - "Living by Faith, Not by Sight"
  • Revelation 21:1-7 - "A New Heaven and a New Earth"

Funeral readings that are non religious

Unlike religious readings, which draw on specific religious texts or traditions, non-religious readings may include poems, prose, or other secular passages that offer a universal message of love, remembrance, and hope – or they can simply be passages that were important to the person who passed away. These readings often focus on the beauty and fragility of life, the importance of love and relationships, and the idea that the memory of the deceased will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved them.

  • "Do not stand at my grave and weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye
  • "The Dash" by Linda Ellis
  • "She Is Gone" by David Harkins
  • "Funeral Blues" by W.H. Auden
  • "Remember" by Christina Rossetti

Uplifting funeral readings

People often choose uplifting funeral readings as a way to celebrate the life of the deceased and to provide comfort and hope to those who are grieving. These readings typically offer messages of hope and inspiration, reminding mourners that life is a precious gift and that the memory of the deceased will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved them.

  • "If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking” by Emily Dickinson"
  • "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
  • "Death Is Nothing At All" by Henry Scott-Holland
  • "If I Should Go Tomorrow" by Author Unknown
  • "She Is Gone" by David Harkins

Modern funeral poems

Modern poems can offer a fresh perspective on death and grieving, speaking to the unique experiences and emotions of contemporary mourners. Poems provide their comfort through lyrical language and poignant imagery, offering a sense of connection and understanding to those who are grieving. Additionally, modern funeral poems often draw on a wide range of literary and cultural influences, from classic poetry to popular music, making them accessible to a diverse range of mourners.

  • "Funeral Blues" by W.H. Auden
  • "I Am Standing Upon the Seashore" by Henry van Dyke
  • "When Great Trees Fall" by Maya Angelou
  • "Epitaph" by Merrit Malloy
  • "Remember" by Christina Rossetti

Unusual funeral readings

Unusual readings may include passages from non-traditional sources, such as popular culture, contemporary literature, or even personal letters or writings of the deceased. By choosing an unusual reading, mourners can create a personalized and meaningful tribute that reflects the life and personality of the deceased, rather than relying on more traditional or generic readings.

  • "The Great Realization" by Tomos Roberts
  • "Crossing the Bar" by Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • "Life is But a Walking Shadow" from Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • "The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
  • "The Dash" by Linda Ellis

Funeral readings for fathers

These readings may highlight the unique qualities and experiences of the father, celebrating his contributions to his family, community, and the world around him. Funeral readings for fathers typically involve themes of a deep love for his family, his strength, resilience, and perseverance, and/or honoring the ways in which the father overcame challenges and obstacles in his life.

  • "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas
  • "A Father to His Son" by Carl Sandburg
  • "My Father" by Yehuda Amichai
  • "Funeral Blues" by W.H. Auden
  • "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden.

Funeral readings for mothers

These readings focus on the unique life experiences of the mother, celebrating her contributions to her family, community, and the wider world. Additionally, funeral readings for mothers may focus on themes of sacrifice, resilience, and strength, acknowledging the mother's selflessness and devotion to her family and others.

  • "Mother" by Maya Angelou
  • "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes
  • "The Watcher" by Margaret Widdemer
  • "When Great Trees Fall" by Maya Angelou
  • "To My Mother" by Christina Rossetti.

Whether you opt for religious or secular readings, traditional or modern poems, or something more unique and personalized, the right selection of readings can help mourners to reflect on the life and legacy of the deceased and find a sense of closure and peace in the midst of loss. By selecting readings that speak to the unique qualities and experiences of the deceased, you can create a truly meaningful tribute that honors their memory and provides comfort and support to those who are mourning.

Find more readings

Want to see more articles like this?
Like us on Facebook:
Last updated March 8, 2023
Rate this article
Average rating: N/A (0 votes)
You've already voted on this article.
There was an error. Please try again.
You're voting too often. Please try again later.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.