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The 21 Most Moving Poems about Grief and Mourning

Have you lost a loved one and are searching for some comfort? Or do you know of someone grieving a loss and want to reach out to offer your thoughts and sympathy?

Touching poems about grief and bereavement are a great way to find the words and feelings you may have been struggling to express. So try the range of grief poems below.

Losing someone special is always a difficult period. You can never be fully prepared for the grief that hits you. That overwhelming sense of loss is like a punch to the gut.

And there’s very little that can actually offer any comfort from the pain. We seek ways to understand and explain what has happened but it is often in vain.

But that doesn’t mean we give up or don’t try. Most of us will reach out to a friend or family member dealing with a loss. It’s our instinct to try and comfort them during such a terrible time.

A poem about grief or bereavement is one way to show you care. Poetry can find the words and sentiments we would never be able to do so ourselves. They can provide understanding, show us we aren’t alone and help make sense of the loss we’ve experienced.

So if you know someone dealing with a bereavement then one of the grief poems here may offer an element of comfort to help with the grieving process and all that they are going through.

Short Poems about Grief

These are some short and simple grief poems. They could be used in a condolence note or with a sympathy card/gift.

Or perhaps pick out the most pertinent few lines to be sent to a friend. Sharing on something like Facebook is also a good option if you aren’t sure how to reach out.


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.

By Christina Rossetti

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

By Robert Frost


Under the wide and starry sky  
Dig the grave and let me lie:  
Glad did I live and gladly die,  
And I laid me down with a will.  

This be the verse you ‘grave for me:         
Here he lies where he long’d to be;  
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,  
And the hunter home from the hill.

By Robert Louis Stevenson

The Window

Your body is away from me
but there is a window open
from my heart to yours.
From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly

By Rumi

Epitaph On A Friend

 An honest man here lies at rest,
The friend of man, the friend of truth,
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d;
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.

By Robert Burns

Still Held

Words seem so feeble
in moments like these.
Life is so precious,
and death such a thief.
The depths of your pain
I cannot comprehend,
but I’ll stand alongside you
in the darkness, my friend.
Love is a bond
that death cannot part.
Gone from your arms,
but still held in your heart.

By John Mark Green


The sky cried with me today. 
I let the rain come down hard
over me and felt you in every drop.
It’s as if even the heavens
know you belong on Earth

By Faith Smith


Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

By W.S. Merwin

Poems for Comfort after Loss

My Constant Companion

Grief is my companion,
It takes me by the hand,
And walks along beside me
in a dark and barren land.
How long will this lonesome journey last,
How much more can my weary heart bear?
Since your death, I’ve been lost in the fog,
Too burdened with sorrow and care.
People tell me my sadness will fade,
And my tears will reach their end.
Grief and I must complete our journey,
And then maybe I’ll find happiness again.

By Kelly Roper

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

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 glints on snow. 
I am the sunlight on ripened grain. 
I am the gentle autumn rain. 
When you awaken in the morning’s hush 
I am the swift uplifting rush 
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry; 
I am not there. I did not die. 

Mary Elizabeth Frye

On the Death of the Beloved

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again. 

by John O’Donohue

How Do We Go On

How do we go on
after the unthinkable happens?
How can we carry the burden of knowing
the world can be cruel and dangerous,
the future so unpredictable?
How do we grieve with empty arms
and a head filled with echoing memories?
We are stronger than we know,
and this is how we show it: 
each other, 
giving comfort in the midst of pain. 
Loving more fiercely, 
through our actions and the things we say.
Making the world just a little bit better, 
every single day. 
Never taking life for granted, 
knowing that it can be snatched away.
This world may bring deep darkness,
but we are the bearers of light.
We’ll join our flames together, 
and shine in the blackest of nights

By John Mark Green

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.

By Mary Oliver

When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
 fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

By Maya Angelou

Poems for Mourning

Funeral Blues

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 on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round 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 forever: 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 ever come to any good.

By W.H. Auden

READ MORE: What to Say to Someone Whose Dog Died

After Words

Because the smallness of our being
is our only greatness.
Because one night I was in a room
listening until only one heart beat.
Because in these last years I’ve
worn and worn and nearly worn out
my black funeral shoes.

Because the gesture of after words
means the same thing no matter
who speaks them.
Because faith belief forever
are only words, no matter.
Because matter disappears
always and eventually.
Because action is not matter
but energy
that spent, changes being.

And if death, too, is a change of being
perhaps action counts.
And if death is a land of unknowing,
perhaps we do well to live with uncertainty.
And if death is a forested land,
it would be good to learn trees.
And if death is a kingdom,
it would be good to practice service.
And if death is a foreign state
we should loosen allegiance to this one.
And if the soul leaves our body
then we must rehearse goodbye.

By Kimberly Blaeser

Time Does Not Bring Relief

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied   
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!   
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;   
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,   
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;   
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.   
There are a hundred places where I fear   
To go,—so with his memory they brim.   
And entering with relief some quiet place   
Where never fell his foot or shone his face   
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”   
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Night Where You No Longer Live

Was it like lifting a veil
And was the grass treacherous, the green grass

Did you think of your own mother
Was it like a virus
Did the software flicker

And was this the beginning
Was it like that
Was there gas station food
and was it a long trip

And is there sun there
or drones
or punishment
or growth

Was it a blackout
And did you still create me
And what was I like on the first day of my life

Were we two from the start
And was our time an entrance
or an ending

Did we stand in the heated room
Did we look at the painting

Did the snow appear cold
Were our feet red with it, with the wet snow

And then what were our names
Did you love me or did I misunderstand
Is it terrible

Do you intend to come back
Do you hear the world’s keening
Will you stay the night

By Meghan O’Rourke

Gone from My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”
Gone where?
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me — not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
And that is dying
By Luther Beecher

The Well of Grief

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief,
turning down through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe,
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering,
the small round coins,
thrown by those who wished for something else.

By David Whyte

For Grief

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time. 

By John O’Donohue

We hope these poems about grief have helped you find some comfort amongst the pain or allowed you to reach out to someone else bereaved.

There is little that can stop us mourning a loved one who has passed. Or the pain it brings. But the words of others, like in poetry, have throughout time offered solace in those darkest moments. Hopefully they will be able to do the same for you.

poems about grief

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