16 Funeral Poems for a Loved One Who Died of Cancer


Are you having trouble finding the right words to say after your loved one died of cancer? We understand your struggles. You just went through a traumatic event, and your mind is probably reeling with all that needs to be done. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

Thankfully, poets throughout the centuries have provided us with a catalog of funeral poems. We hope one of the following speaks to you as you search for a funeral poem for a loved one who died of cancer.

Funeral Poems for a Dad or Grandfather Who Died of Cancer

Here are some funeral poems for your dad or stepdad. Please understand that many of these poems can be used no matter your familial relationship with the deceased. 

» MORE: Everyone's wishes are different. Here's how to honor your unique loved one.

1. “Letting Go” by Judith Bulock Morse

This funeral poem is religious in tone and mentions Jesus. It begins,

“The angels gathered near your side
So very close to you.
For they knew the pain and suffering 
That you were going through.”

This poem might resonate with you if your loved one went through a series of painful treatments to fight their cancer. It discusses how difficult it is to let go of a loved one in such a condition.

2. “What Cancer Cannot Do”

Please understand that there are several different versions of this poem. This title is also used for a book of encouraging stories for those going through treatment. 

The most prevalent version of this poem provides a list of things that continue despite fighting cancer. They include,

“It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.”

3. “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

One of our favorite dad poems is this classic by Robert Hayden. The poem recounts those thankless tasks some dads perform without complaint or acknowledgment. This might be an excellent poem to share if your dad or stepdad was a man of few words but who always worked hard to make your family comfortable and safe. 

4. “Not How Did He Die, But How Did He Live?”

Perhaps your dad’s cause of death was related to his cancer. However, you might wish to find a poem that focuses on his life instead of how he died.

This poem may also be a good option for a person with no church affiliation, as it includes the line, “Nor what was his church, Nor what was his creed? But had he befriended those really in need?”

Funeral Poems for a Mother or Grandmother Who Died of Cancer

Of course, you can choose a funeral poem for your mom or grandma that speaks of death – specifically death to cancer. You may also want to consider a poem or piece of verse that your mother enjoyed – regardless of the topic it covers.  

Here are some poems to consider for your mom’s or grandma’s funeral. 

5. “You Meant So Much” by Cassie Mitchell

This straightforward poem is written from the perspective of someone who recently lost a loved one who died while in pain. It begins,

“You meant so much to all of us
You were special, and that’s no lie.
You brightened up the darkest day
And the cloudiest sky.

6. “I am no more the illness” by M.L. Glynn

This unique poem that begins “I am no more the illness” describes how a person’s cancerous body is different from their immeasurable energy and consciousness. So, instead of focusing on cancer’s power, the poem ends with this line:

“Look closely now, my love.

This is not disease, it is my soul tearing my body at the seams.”

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7. “She Walked” by Unknown

We decided to include this poem in our list for those who plan to honor their loved ones by participating in a cancer walk near you. This simple poem describes all the stages your loved one walked through – from diagnosis to treatment – until she could not walk any longer.

The last line reads, “Now I walk for her.”

8. “Only One Mother” by Unknown

The loss of a mother is particularly difficult because most of us only have one. This poem lists the bountiful, beautiful things we have in our lives, including “hundreds of stars in the pretty sky” and “hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn.” The last line reads, “But only one mother the wide world over.”

Funeral Poems for a Sibling Who Died of Cancer

As you may have noticed, many of the poems about cancer do not specify your relationship with the deceased. Therefore, finding a poem about a brother or sister dying of cancer might be tricky unless you turn to poetry websites for amateurs. 

Here are some poems to consider for your sibling’s funeral.

9. “The Dash Poem” by Linda Ellis

Did your sibling live life to the fullest? Celebrate this by reading a poem at their funeral that focuses on “the dash” that comes between a person’s birth and death dates. 

This poem inspires others to think about their lives from a different perspective. It includes this call for action, 

“So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.”

10. “When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou

We love this poem written by Maya Angelou to commemorate the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. The ending stanza is inspirational and might be a good choice for a special sibling’s funeral.

“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.”

11. “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye

There seems to be a bit of controversy regarding the origins of this famous funeral poem. The poem’s Wikipedia page says that it became popular in the 1970s when John Wayne read it at a director’s funeral.

Perhaps one reason for its popularity is that it is from the perspective of the person who died. The deceased tells survivors not to visit a gravesite. Instead, we should find comfort from the knowledge that 

“I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.”

12. “Never have I been as proud” by BGT

This untitled poem tells the story of a sibling who is proud of how their sister is fighting cancer. The poem is written from the perspective that the person is still living. However, it could be used at a funeral.

It ends,

“A stranger could never
Know your battle by
Looking at you now,
And I’m proud to say
You’re my sister
Still fighting with a smile.”

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Funeral Poems for a Spouse or Partner Who Died of Cancer

Do you have the sad task of finding a funeral poem for your spouse or partner who died of cancer? If so, we are sorry for your loss. We want to help you with the process by recommending these poems.

13. “Beyond the Sunset” by Hank Williams

Remember, song lyrics are just poetry set to music. So, consider using the lyrics of your loved one’s favorite song at their funeral.

The lyrics to this song are particularly touching and describe the thoughts of a spouse left behind after their loved one dies. It’s a poignant song and includes the stanza:

“We’ve known so much of happiness
We’ve had our cup of joy
And memory is one gift of God
That death cannot destroy.”

14. “I Am Standing Upon the Seashore” by Henry Van Dyke

This popular funeral poem describes death as a ship setting sail. Those left on the shore shout, “She is gone!” as the boat disappears over the horizon. 

However, there are those standing to greet the newcomer on the other side. They may shout, “Here she comes!” The final line of this poem states, “And that is dying.”

Funeral Poems for a Friend Who Died of Cancer

Were you asked to read a poem at a good friend’s funeral? Then, of course, you would want to find a poem that speaks to your loved one’s personality and life philosophy. Here are some popular choices. 

15. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost

This famous poem speaks about the inevitability of death. One of the benefits of selecting this poem is that it is brief. It reads,

“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.”

16. “Warm Summer Sun” by Walt Whitman

We also like this brief poem by Walt Whitman that could be used at a graveside service of a friend.

“Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.”

Choosing the Right Words Can Be Difficult

Take time to read and reflect on several different poems before choosing one for your loved one’s funeral. You might also run your decision past others if you are in the fog of grief that may cloud your judgment.

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