16 'Happy Father's Day' 2021 Poems for Deceased Dads or Stepdads

Updated

Father’s Day ends up as a sad holiday for many people. Dads who have lost or live estranged from their children may grieve. Men who never had kids may feel a pang of regret. Of course, we can’t forget about the children missing their dads on Father’s Day

Jump ahead to these sections:

Read through these Father’s Day poems for deceased dads that you can put on your social media page. We’ve also included poems that you may connect with as you navigate life without your dad. 

Here are the dates for Father's Day for the next few years:

2021: Sunday, June 20
2022: Sunday, June 19
2023: Sunday, June 18
2024: Sunday, June 16
2025: Sunday, June 15

Sad Father’s Day Poems for Deceased Dads

Is this your first Father’s Day without your dad? You might not get through the day without reflecting on the life of your father. You may appreciate some of these poems.

1. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

“Do Not Go Gentle'' is probably one of the most famous poems written about a father’s death. The speaker sits on the deathbed of his dad and asks him to fight for life. Thomas was a Welsh poet who wrote during the 20th century.

2. “Never More Will the Wind” by Hilda Doolittle

If you spent a lot of outdoor time with your father, you might connect with this sad poem by Hilda Doolittle. Post this poem with a photo of your dad spending time in the great outdoors. It begins, “Never more will the wind cherish you again.”

3. “Ave Atque Vale” by James Laughlin

This poem describes some of the more complicated feelings you feel when you’re grieving in the line, “Sadness changed to resentment even to anger almost.” In this poem, the speaker mourns the loss of his father, or “the one who loved me most.”

4. “Redemption Song” by Kevin Young

You may appreciate the speaker’s emotions in “Redemption Song.” They speak of the frustration of a beautiful autumn day when you grieve the loss of a loved one. One poignant line reads, “Grief might be easy if there wasn’t still such beauty — would be far simpler if the silver maple didn’t thrust its leaves into flame, trusting that spring would find it again.”

Uplifting Father’s Day Poems for Deceased Dads

Some tributes to dads can celebrate the life of your loved one. Read through these uplifting or comforting poems to read and share. One comes from the Bible, while the other two look at grief and fatherhood in the modern era. 

5. Psalm 23

The incredibly lyrical Book of Psalms in the Bible offers the verse, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” which has given comfort to believers for centuries. Revisit this passage of the Bible, and this time, take a look at several different versions of the same verse. 

6. “Talking to Grief” by Denise Levertov

This poem personifies grief as a homeless dog. Like a dog who needs a home, grief isn’t something that you should avoid. The speaker in this poem says that you should name it and trust it.

7. “Last Request” by Michael Palmer

You may feel that this poem is a bit irreverent because it certainly makes light of death. Regardless, it may remind you of your father’s flippant attitude toward funeral planning. If your dad ever said, “Bury me out back in an old pine box,” you may appreciate this poem.

Father’s Day Poems for Deceased Dads from Daughters

This selection of poems describes different moments that you may have experienced when losing a loved one. The first poem describes someone rushing across the country to get to a father’s deathbed. Another poem is about how hard it is returning to everyday life when all you can think about is your dad. 

Maybe you find yourself struggling to go through your father’s belongings, or you may continue to reflect on the life of your hero/dad.

8. “The Race” by Sharon Olds

You might connect with this poem if you raced home to say goodbye to your dad before he died. You will understand the frantic pace that the speaker in this poem describes as they rush to the airport to find a last-minute flight. The last line says, “I walked into his room and watched his chest rise slowly and sink again, all night I watched him breathe.”

9. “Death Poem” by Kim Addonizio

This is not a poem about a daughter missing her dad. Instead, it is a description of someone struggling to think about something else besides her father “left in some town behind me, in his blue suit, with his folded hands.” If you are having a difficult time being around friends and returning to “normal life” after the death of a loved one, you will connect with this poem.

10. “Ice” by Mary Oliver

Perhaps you are at the stage where you need to go through your father’s things after he died. The speaker in this poem describes her need to “save everything,” which you may understand. 

Do you find yourself with a large pile of items that “remind you of dad” that you plan to take to your home? This is the poem for you.

11. “My Father, in Heaven, Is Reading Out Loud” by Li-Young Lee

Some people envision their fathers as “bigger than life.” This speaker in Li-Young Lee’s poem, while they still admire their father, realizes that they are more like their father than they realize.

Father’s Day Poems for Deceased Dads From Sons

The father/son relationship sometimes ends up “complex.” Here are some poems about the death of fathers. Some are tributes, and some describe coming to terms with the death of someone you admire. 

We hope they will help you as you face a Father’s Day without your dad. 

12. “You Don’t Miss Your Water” by Cornelius Eady

Cornelius Eady is a modern poet who writes about race, class, and family relationships, among other things. In this work called “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” the son has an imagined conversation with his deceased father regarding how he earns his living teaching and writing poetry. You might connect with this poem if you had a somewhat complicated relationship with your dad.

13.  “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

Did you ever thank your father for starting your car on cold winter mornings so you could drive to school in comfort? Did you ever thank him for working extra hours so the family could afford to send you to summer camp? This poem is about all the thankless tasks your dad may have completed to provide you and your family with a comfortable life. 

This would be a lovely poem to post that says, “Happy Father’s Day in heaven, Dad.”

14. “Cold Calls” by Edward Hirsch

This poem is similar in theme to the previous one, but it is a bit harsher in tone. “Cold Calls'' describes the life of a box salesperson through the eyes of his son. The son describes watching his father’s desperate attempt to make a living. Seeing his dad’s struggle is the reason “why I stood at his grave on those wintry afternoons and stared at the bare muddy trees and raved in silence to no one, to his name carved into a granite slab.”

15. “Father” by Ted Kooser

The speaker’s father in this poem has been gone for 20 years, but the speaker misses him every day. We like this poem because it describes the characteristics of the father, who is gone. “The hand cupped on the back of my neck, Old Spice in the air, your voice delighted with stories.”

16. “Bereavement” by Kevin Young

In this poem, the speaker wonders about the grief of his father’s dogs, who are kenneled outside. 

How to Celebrate your Dad on Father’s Day

Just because your dad is gone doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate his life on Father’s Day. Make a plan with your mom and siblings so you can still spend your day with those you love. 

You may consider gathering together to share memories of your dad. You can look at photos, share stories, and eat your dad’s favorite foods. To feel close to your dad, you may want to wear some of his favorite shirts that still smell like his aftershave. 

Perhaps your family can do an act of service to honor your dad, such as volunteer with an organization that meant a lot to your father. 

Some families spend Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) completing outdoor projects to honor their deceased parents. Your family may want to plant a tree on your dad’s church lawn or tend to a memorial garden where your father’s ashes were scattered.

There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate Father’s Day after your Dad passes. Do what feels right to you.

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.