How Do I Write a Funeral Programme: With Examples

May 13, 2022 6 min read

Funeral Programme

The funeral programme is an important part of any funeral service. It provides a keepsake for attendees and can be a key element in the tribute you pay to your loved one. 

Creating the funeral programme can be incredibly stressful, particularly as you will be in the process of grieving for your loved one. This is why it is helpful to find advice from those who have done it before you and seek support from those around you.

You’ll need to think about the following:

  • The contents of the programme, including any religious texts, poems or readings
  • The order of service
  • Who will be leading the service
  • Whether you want to include any music in the service
  • Any other special elements, such as a eulogy or tribute

It can be helpful to create a timeline for the service so that you have a clear idea of what needs to happen and when. This will make it easier to keep things moving forward on the day. Remember, you’re not alone in planning the funeral or preparing the programme, so be ready to lean on those around you for support.

What is a funeral programme?

A funeral programme is a document that is provided to attendees of a funeral service. It outlines the order of events and may also include personal tributes, poems and readings. The funeral programme is an important part of the service, as it allows attendees to follow along and participate in the tribute to your loved one.

It can also be a touching keepsake that offers comfort and support to those grieving. Many people keep funeral programmes and add them to memory boxes to help with the grieving process.

Who is responsible for the funeral programme?

This task is typically left to whoever is planning the funeral, but if this task is too overwhelming, this person might enlist the help of those around them. It’s also possible to ask for help with the task from a funeral director, who can assist in ordering the programme and creating it.

Many funeral directors will offer templates to help you to put the programme together and have it printed in time for the service, but you are also welcome to use external suppliers. 

What should be included in the funeral programme?

The contents of a funeral programme will vary depending on the wishes of the deceased and their loved ones. However, some key elements typically include religious texts, poems or readings that are meaningful to the person who has died. It should be personal to you rather than following a set structure.

Here are some tips on how to write a funeral programme, with examples of what to include.

  1. Decide on the format of the programme. Will it be a single page or multiple pages? Will it be folded or stapled?
  2. Choose the paper stock. You can find pre-printed funeral programme templates online, or you can design your own using quality paper stock.
  3. Decide what information to include in the programme. The basic elements are the name and photo of the deceased, the date and time of the funeral service, a list of pallbearers and honourees, and a photo gallery.
  4. Add any other information that you feel is important to include. This might be poems or prayers that are relevant to the loved one, a message from his or her family, or details about donations in lieu of flowers.
  5. Have the funeral programme printed and ready to distribute at the service. You can also provide digital copies for those who might want to keep it as a keepsake.

Examples of what to include in a funeral programme

Writing a funeral programme doesn’t have to be difficult. Think about what your loved one would have wanted and what will bring comfort to those grieving their loss.

Examples of religious texts for a funeral programme

If your loved one was religious, you might want to include religious texts in the funeral programme. This could be a passage from the Bible, the Koran or any other holy book that was significant to him or her. You might also want to ask a religious leader to contribute a eulogy or reading. This might include the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, or the lyrics to a favourite hymn.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk

through the darkest valley,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me

all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.

The Footprints Prayer – by Margaret Fishback Powers

One night I dreamed a dream.

As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.

Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.

For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,

One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,

I looked back at the footprints in the sand.

I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,

especially at the very lowest and saddest times,

there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.

“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,

You’d walk with me all the way.

But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,

there was only one set of footprints.

I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you

Never, ever, during your trials and testings.

When you saw only one set of footprints,

It was then that I carried you.”

Examples of poems or readings for a funeral programme

Poems for inclusion in a funeral programme might be “Do not stand at my grave and weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye or “Death Be Not Loud” by Charles Hanson Towne. You might also want to include readings from a favourite book or author or something that was significant to the person who has died.

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep – Mary Elizabeth Fry

Do not stand

By my grave, and weep.

I am not there,

I do not sleep—

I am the thousand winds that blow

I am the diamond glints in snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain,

I am the gentle, autumn rain.

As you awake with morning’s hush,

I am the swift, up-flinging rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight,

I am the day transcending night.

Do not stand

By my grave, and cry—

I am not there,

I did not die.

Another excellent example of a non-religious poem for a funeral programme is Requiem by Robert Louis Steveson. 

Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson

Under the wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me die.

Glad did I live and gladly die,

And I laid me down with a will

This be the verse you grave for me:

Here lies where he longed to be;

Home is the sailor, home from sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

And finally, this is another excellent example of a simple poem to include in your funeral programme.

Remember – Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you plann’d:

Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.

As you can see, there is no set structure for a funeral programme. The most important thing is to make it personal and meaningful to those attending the service. Use these tips and examples to help you write a moving tribute to your loved one.

If you are looking for help with writing a funeral programme, consider consulting with a professional funeral services provider. They can provide guidance on what to include and what to leave out. And remember, you can ask for help from those around you. You don’t have to tackle this task on your own, so don’t be afraid to delegate or ask for support in making these difficult decisions.