Losing a cousin can be difficult. Your cousin might be one of your oldest, and best, friends. It can be hard to know how to support those affected by this loss. Everyone grieves and heals differently. And what comforts one person won’t necessarily comfort someone else.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Sad Poems About Losing a Cousin
- Loss of Cousin Poems that Will Help You Say Goodbye
- Poems to Read at Your Cousin’s Funeral
So, when it comes to poetry, no single poem suits everyone. And not all poetry needs to be conventional to be soothing. The only thing necessary is finding one that breathes a little bit of life back into you.
Search below for the poet who can inspire and uplift you with their words. You may discover something you wouldn’t have considered before. It may be a humorous poem that pulls you from your pain. Or a poem that celebrates the life of someone you loved. All the poems below embrace the beauty and the struggle of grief. Hopefully, there is one that can help you.
Sad Poems About Losing a Cousin
Reactions to death can come from different places. It can remind you of the crushing realities of life; it is always beyond our control. Or you can take it as a reminder to embrace the journey. These poems give you space to feel sadness at the loss of someone important to you.
1. "Shadows (On the Death of a Cousin)" by Goodnews Nememugh Karibo
Goodnews Nememugh Karibo is a little known Nigerian poet. Everything he writes is chant based. His words can feel like they’re speaking to your soul. He writes that no matter how brief life is, it's still far shorter than ever expected.
2. "The Rites for Cousin Vit" by Gwendolyn Brooks
This poem honors Brooks’ cousin and the life she lived. Her cousin was lively and untamable and not even a casket could bury those memories.
3. "Jordan" by Nick Arnold
This poem celebrates the life of a teenager lost to gun violence. Poet Nick Arnold attempts to point out the need to rethink how we view those around us. He argues the importance of seeing someone for who they are inside, not just seeing the color of their skin.
4. "Our Soldier Cousin" by Arlouine
This poem is from the Civil War. But anyone who has served as a member of the military will relate to its message. And extended family will appreciate the idea that their loved one is at peace.
This poem encourages the audience to feel happiness when thinking of their loved one, rather than sadness. It reminds them that their loved one will be waiting for them in Heaven.
5. "The Sea is Big" by Zena Agha
Refugees are refugees not by choice or pleasure. Instead, it is often war and greed that causes them to flee their homes. They are just trying to keep their families safe. Zena Agha's poem is only available in video, which makes it even more powerful. It gives a voice to the voiceless.
6. "My Cousin, Milton" by Ted Kooser
The poet writes that though the world hardened Milton, his heart was soft and open. Kooser is struggling with the knowledge that the cousin he loved died alone.
7. "On the Death of a Young Lady" by Lord Byron
Death is often harder to deal with when it takes the young. Byron’s lament for his young cousin is two-fold. It appreciates her beauty while mourning her early death.
8. "A Poem for Cousin Harold" by Grace Jones
This poem is more religious than others on this list. It exalts God, rather than explaining the life and personality of a cousin. But Jones’ message is a good one. He is thanking and praising God for accepting his cousin Harold into Heaven.
9. "Elegy Before Death" by Edna St. Vincent Millay
The poet is asking the reader to explore the beauty of life. And she argues for the importance of seeing the beauty around you. Her goal is not to say that life goes on, but that life is still beautiful despite your grief.
10. "The Grave of Shelley" by Oscar Wilde
Wilde's use of metaphor for Shelley is unparalleled. At first glance, this poem is a lamentation to losing a close friend. But closer inspection reveals a conversation about the loss of art. He makes the argument that losing art is like losing someone you love.
Loss of Cousin Poems that Will Help You Say Goodbye
Saying goodbye requires a lot of strength. Some poets attempt to write about this strength by focusing on rational thought or pragmatism. Others argue that it is fearlessness that gives you strength in moments of grief.
11. "As I Grew Older" by Langston Hughes
Hughes' poem argues that life has a fixed end for everyone. This poem may help you find comfort in the normalcy of our shared fate.
12. "All the World’s a Stage" by William Shakespeare
“We come into the world as we leave the world. And all the while we are here, we are this or that—mere puppets for the crowd.” Shakespeare avoids melancholy and seeks a more pragmatic approach to the final act. Essentially, everyone is born and everyone dies.
13. "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
If your cousin was the strongest, more self-aware person you knew, you will find comfort in "Still I Rise." This poem is a celebration of strength and overcoming adversity.
14. "Hope is the Thing with Feathers" by Emily Dickinson
A bird will sing, yet ask for nothing. Hope is the same. You don’t need to give anything to have hope. When grieving that is a good lesson to remember.
15. "A Sincere Goodbye" by Seema Chowdhury
So much love was put into making your cousin. Nothing and no one will ever be like them again. Celebrate that fact with this poem.
16. "Goodbye for Now Moon" by Peter S. Quinn
Haikus may be short but they contain powerful imagery. The description of a hidden moon on a snowy night makes for beautiful imagery. It is a reminder that although the moon may disappear it will return. The suggested metaphor that you’ll see your loved one again could bring you comfort.
17. "Go and Catch a Falling Star" by John Donne
This poem is about truth and honesty in relationships. But, it also talks about life and the lack of control you have over it. It seems that no matter what you do, you cannot affect the path or person ahead of you.
18. "Goodbye" by Crystal Camacho
Although the poet did not know her cousin, she still felt their power. And now there is a fear that they may never meet. But the poet hopes that won’t be the case. She wishes for the opportunity to finally meet her cousin in the afterlife.
19. "Farewell" by Anne Brontë
Brontë’s funeral poem bids farewell to anguish. Instead of focusing on how sad she feels she is embracing the joy around her. She writes, "Farewell to thee! but not farewell / To all my fondest thoughts of thee."
20. "A Farewell to the World" by Ben Johnson
For some, life just seems unfair from the very start. Johnson writes about a life that was never easy. Sometimes, it can seem like death is easier. But Johnson argues that we are born to overcome those challenges. And that death is the last challenge we face.
Poems to Read at Your Cousin’s Funeral
The eulogy is a special time to remember your cousin. It is a time to celebrate their idiosyncrasies and everything that made them human. Your cousin may have been radiant and strong, or they could have been a comedian. When you embrace their quirks and talk about them with honesty, it will be easy to honor them with a funeral poem.
21. "Heaven" by Robert Herrick
Herricks’ sweet, funny little poem is about asking for mercy. Even though he has sinned, he wants the gates of heaven to open and welcome him in. If they don’t he’s planning to force his way in.
This poem is a great example of a eulogy for someone who bucked stereotypes. Your cousin may have been sweet and humble but also comfortable taking charge. Celebrate those distinct aspects of their personality.
22. "Farewell My Friend" by Lovina Sylvia Chidi
The use of “farewell” in Chidi’s poem conveys a certain strength. It is a chant, a wish, and a recognition that this final goodbye is filled with love and faith.
23. "Heaven" by Rupert Brooke
“Heaven” is a beautiful example of how even a fish dares to imagine heaven. They see worms and flies without an attached hook. They see a place so wonderful that only bountiful, plentiful, and pure water abounds. It’s a less traditional poem idea, but the sentiment is lovely. Heaven is whatever you love most.
24. "Under One Small Star" by Wislawa Szymborska
This poem is one giant act of contrition against the world and the fates. One could read this poem as an example of how someone loved life without concern for the consequences. When life caught up to them, they had to make sure they apologize for how they’d lived. Just in case...
25. "Heaven Above, Heaven Below" by Vyacheslav Ivanovich Ivanov
It may be possible to embrace death if you can imagine that heaven holds the same beauty as Earth.
Comfort and Healing
Losing a cousin can be difficult. Whether the poem you read makes you laugh or cry, there is no right or wrong way to explore your grief. It may be that more than one of these poems speaks to you. Or you might need to hear them more than once before the message reaches you.
Grief is a long road, and it can be hard to find your way. Hopefully, one of the poems on this list will guide you on that path.