We all know how hard it is to find the right words when a tragedy occurs. If you recently lost a student or classmate, you may struggle to find an appropriate, loving way to them and look to a poem for your deceased classmate.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Poems That Honor a Deceased Classmate to Share in Class
- Poems That Honor a Deceased Classmate to Put in a Yearbook or Memory Book
- Poems That Honor a Deceased Classmate to Share at Class Reunion
Some school districts have a protocol in place detailing how to honor a deceased student. They do so that all of the deaths are treated equally, no matter the situation. Check with the leadership team in your district to see how to handle the loss most appropriately.
Below are some poems that may be appropriate to share with others regarding the death of a student.
(If you'd like more guidance through the process of losing someone, whether it's a classmate or a family member, check out our post-loss checklist.)
Poems that Honor a Deceased Classmate to Share in Class
If you are a student who is looking for a poem to share with other students regarding a classmate’s death, here are some to consider. While sharing poetry is a healthy way to express sorrow, you may also consider this article that suggests other ways to remember a classmate who died.
Losing a peer can be incredibly hard. If you have suicidal thoughts or feelings of hopelessness, reach out to a counselor immediately.
1. “Do Not Stand at My Desk and Cry” by Unknown
This poem was written in homage to Mary Elizabeth Frye’s “Do Not Sit at My Grave and Weep.” In this version, which is appropriate for younger students, survivors are asked to remember the deceased while at school. The poem begins, “Do not stand at my desk and cry. I am not there; I did not die. I am the laughter filling these halls. My spirit lingers in these walls.”
Realize that this poem may bring up difficult questions if you share it in a classroom of grade school students. It may not be appropriate in many situations.
2. “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Instead of sharing the student version of this poem, you may consider reading this original one. The speaker in Frye’s poem is the deceased. They ask that their mourners think of them while spending time in nature.
3. “Feelings of Loss” by Unknown
“Feelings of Loss” tells children that the spirit of their deceased classmate is still present. One line reads, “Our classmate is gone and free like a bird. Free to fly in the heavens above, as a friend we’ll always be thinking of.”
4. “Remember” by Christina Rossetti
This uplifting poem is a reminder that life is for the living. Like the previous poem on our list, the speaker asks only to be remembered “with a smile.”
5. “When I’m Gone” by Unknown
This poem begins, “When I come to the end of my journey and I travel my last weary mile, just forget, if you can, that I ever frowned, and remember only the smile.” This poem would be appropriate for someone who died as a result of severe sickness.
6. “Memorial Poem” by Barbie Lee
It may be challenging to find a poem about a classmate’s death that says precisely what you want to say. This poem includes a troubling line, “Sometimes I ask, why not me?”
7. “I Thought of You Today” by Unknown
Do you find your thoughts frequently returning to the classmate who recently died? This poem is written from the perspective of a person in mourning. It begins, “I thought of you today, but that is nothing new. I thought about you yesterday and days before that too.”
Poems That Honor a Deceased Classmate to Put in a Yearbook or Memory Book
Consider carefully the text that you include in a yearbook or memory book to honor a deceased classmate. In fact, you may create a standard protocol so that each death is handled in the same manner.
It may be hard to find a published poem that is appropriate for this use. After all, you may not want to include a poem that references the afterlife without knowing the beliefs of those involved. While some of these poems may be appropriate in some instances, you may also consider taking a more subdued approach to commemorating the death.
8. “Poem of Life” by Unknown
While this poem is written from a Christian perspective, it could be an appropriate choice to place in a yearbook’s memorial pages. It discusses how we all have different journeys, but we are “never meant to stay.”
9. “I Would Have Loved to Have Stayed Here” by Unknown
Written from the point of view of the deceased, this poem talks about how they wished they could have had another day to spend on earth before dying.
10. “Until We Meet Again” by Unknown
“Until We Meet Again” is a great way to offer a tribute to a classmate who died. It reads, “We think about you always, we talk about you still. You have never been forgotten, and you never will.”
11. “A Letter From Heaven” by Alena Hakala Meadows
We know this poem is somewhat personal in nature because it speaks about love, but this could be used in a tribute that a deceased student’s family includes in a yearbook.
12. “Dive Into the Wind” by Carole Coffin Shea
If the student who passed away suffered a long illness, you might consider using a poem similar to this one to commemorate the death. It talks about the release from pain that sometimes accompanies death.
13. “Those We Love Don’t Go Away” by Unknown
This short verse reads, “Those we love don’t go away. They walk with us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near. Still loved. Still missed and very dear.” Consider including this text alongside the image of the student who died.
14. “If Tears Could Build a Stairway” by Unknown
In this often-used poem, the speaker desires to visit their loved one in heaven. It includes the line, “my heart still aches in sadness and secret tears still flow.”
Poems that Honor a Deceased Classmate to Share at Class Reunion
Are you in charge of planning your class reunion? There’s a lot to consider when undertaking this thankless job. If you have lost several classmates through the years, you may consider creating a memorial table at the reunion so those attending can pause a moment to give tribute to those who are gone.
Frame a copy of their senior yearbook photo. You may also want to have a candle and flowers present near the display. Consider including a decorative print of one of these poems as well. You may also consider using the lyrics of a song that was popular during the good old days.
15. “An Empty Chair” by Jill Eisnaugle
This lovely poem was written specifically for a school reunion. In it, the author mentions the figurative “empty chair” that “will maintain, in honor of the life-long bond we forged with those, now passed beyond.”
16. “Still Missing You” by Unknown
This is another perfect poem to commemorate your deceased classmates at your high school reunion. The closing stanza states, “We cannot bring the old days back, when we were all together. But the memories we made in school will live in our hearts forever.”
17. “In Memory of Our Classmates” by Unknown
This poem, too, was written specifically for a school reunion. It includes the line, “though absent they are always near.”
18. “Life Well Lived” by Unknown
You may consider placing a print of this poem at a memory table at your school reunion. It begins, “A life well lived is a precious gift of hope and strength and grace, from someone who has made our world a brighter, better place.”
19. “My Mind Knows That You Are Gone” by Unknown
If some of your classmates lost their lives while serving the country, here is a poem to consider sharing at your reunion. It includes the line, “to your country, you gave your best, and we thank you for your sacrifice.”
20. “The Dash Poem” by Linda Ellis
The dash that this poem refers to is the punctuation mark that separates the birth and death date. This poem says that the dash has the ultimate meaning because it describes the time that the person spent on earth.
21. “A Prayer for My Friend” by Ron Tranmer
The speaker in the poem thanks God for the gift of a special friend. If you have had to say goodbye to a friend you knew from school, this poem may speak to you.
Remember to Treat Everyone the Same
It’s devastating for everyone when a student dies. It doesn’t seem fair when a life is cut short, no matter the circumstances of the death. If you are an administrator, teacher, or student, think carefully about how you will commemorate a student's death.
If you are celebrating at a reunion, consider commemorating those who have died using a deceased classmates poem. This treatment needs to be replicated for all subsequent deaths.