It seems to be the poem for our times at funerals:
Do not stand at my grave and weep:
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
Blah, blah, blah, and on it goes.
But the problem isn’t that the poem is almost unendurably maudlin. What else can you expect in a therapeutic culture where the modernist Cartesian cogito has been replaced by the postmodernist (Princess) Dianaic “I emote, therefore I am”? The problem isn’t even the poem’s creeping pantheism, which (nice guy that I am) I can just about tolerate. No, the decisive difficulty is the last couplet - I’ve referred to it in a previous post - which no Christian can allow:
Do not stand at my grave and cry:
I am not there; I did not die.
The first line smacks of psychological denial, the second underscores it with a theological howler.
So when the mourning party want the poem read, I explain the Christian belief that death is real, though not final, and then offer two alternative endings to the poem:
I am not there; in Christ I die.
I am not there; in God I lie.
Unless the deceased is not a born-again Christian. Then I offer two options. If he was an agnostic, or what Karl Rahner called an “anonymous Christian”, and also allowing for purgatory, I leave the absolute judgement to God and give the guy the benefit of the doubt:
I am not there; decree nisi.
However, if the guy was an atheist, it’s curtains:
I am not there; in hell I fry.
Nice pastoral touch, don’t you think?