25+ Heartening Poems for a Deceased Brother’s Funeral

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It can feel like you lose a piece of yourself when your brother dies. The poems listed below offer a wide range of perspectives and insight. Some of the poets lost loved ones through traumatic accidents or life experiences.

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Others try to embrace nature or life as a way of dealing with grief. Here are some poems that may be able to help you through your grief.

Tip: If you're in charge of sorting through your brother's life after his death, our post-loss checklist can help you understand what comes next.

Poems for a Little Brother Who Died

This short collection of poems describes what a brother might wish for his funeral as well as how he might like to be remembered. Another poem describes the pain of losing a brother to a car accident.

1. "He is Gone (Remember Me)" by David Harkins 

The lines and overall ambition of the poem "He Is Gone (Remember Me)," may enable you to embrace the times and moments you've shared.

2. "Mid-Term Break" by Seamus Heaney

The poet has just returned from school after the death of his young brother in 1953.

3. "For My Brother” by Shelley Domenici

Poet Shelley Domenici offers nothing but praise for her special brother. He was the kind of person who positively impacted everyone he met — everyone was better for having known him.

4. "In My Mind” by Jenn Farrell

"In My Mind" is a poem that recognizes that love is often immeasurable. It can envelop you like the depths of an ocean or expanse of the open skies.

5. "Love Lives On” by Author Unknown

The poem is from the point of view of the little brother. Throughout the poem, you can imagine that he is talking with you, that he doesn’t want a funeral or burial plot — his wish is for you and others to sing, live, and continue forward.

ยป MORE: Grief is hard enough. Use our post-loss checklist to prevent added hardship.

 

Poems for an Older Brother Who Died

The selection of poetry found here represent the will of those who will keep his memory alive or act as a conversation the big brother might have with those left behind.

6. "After Suicide [A Hole is Nothing]" by Matt Rasmussen

Poet Matt Rasmussen’s poem is hopeful because Rasmussen sees his brother leave darkness inside a consuming and bright light. It works for those who feel helpless in the wake of tragedy.

7. "To His Dying Brother, Master William Herrick” by Robert Herrick

Drenched in sorrow, Robert Herrick composed this poem for his older brother, whom he clearly admired. He promises to guard his ashes and always remember him.

8. "Remember Me” by Margaret Mead

The poem is a conversation. The person who has died seems to be answering all of the questions you might ask. He’s gone, but he’s also at peace and present in his loved one’s heart.

9. "We are Seven” by William Wordsworth

"We are Seven" is a classic in British romantic poetry. The main character is a little girl who insists on keeping the memory of her two deceased siblings alive through action, words, and thought. It's a lesson in letting love remain in your life.

10. "Memories” by Tamarah M. Olsen

The poet writes, "My memories are what I have left, and a lesson I will not forget. The time has come when time is no more and all that's left was once before." The younger sister idolizes her brother and their adventures.  

Poems for a Brother-in-Law Who Died

Loved ones leave behind impressions and conclusions about the next chapter in your life — or their afterlife.

11. "He is Gone" by David Harkins

"He is Gone" is the perfect poem to show a deceased brother-in-law’s influence. Happiness was knowing him and experiencing his life.

12. "His Peaceful Grave" by Author Unknown

Because the final line of the poem talks about peace, the reader can only assume that the journey to get there was harsh. This poem might give you peace if you lose your brother-in-law.

13. "On Contemplating the Breasts of Pauline Lumumba" by Brenda Marie Osby

You may find commonalities in the stark reality of this poem if your brother-in-law led a tragic life. 

14. "The White Chariot" by Julie Johnson

There’s another journey after death — one that takes your loved one to heaven, guided by angels, and welcomed into the arms of God.

15. "Do Not Stand by My Grave and Weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye

A grave is only a place for a body. You’ll more likely find your brother-in-law in fields of ripened grain, according to this poem.

Poems for a Brother’s Eulogy

Many poems can be shortened if you choose the most fitting lines and verses for your brother’s eulogy. Whether you choose to read the entire poem or just a brief snippet, you’ll find some great options below.

16. "His Journey’s Just Begun" by Ellen Brenneman

"His Journey’s Just Begun" is a death-positive poem — the decedent is at peace, warm, and serene. This poem might give you comfort.

17. "Your Spirit" by Tiara T. Von Reichenbach

If your brother believed that the palliative beauty in life need not be spoken but experienced, then "Your Spirit" will make the perfect funeral poem for him. He may have told you how much he appreciated the simple things — the rain, the smell of a flower, the gust of the wind… to him, life may have been about experiencing its fullness and breadth.

18. "The History of My Life" by John Ashbery

To drink from the cup of life, one must experience its beauty, wrath, and fortitude. What you see as a child are only bits of what a mournful experience can provide.

19. "In General" by Pattiann Rogers

The poem asks for you to experience the fullness of rain, nighttime, and life. You can use this poem as a eulogy for your brother and ask that others absorb this same bit of knowledge. Wear it as experience to absorb your soul in its expected unexpectedness.

20. "You’ve Just Walked on Ahead of Me” by Joyce Grenfell

Grenfell’s poem is all about how people convince themselves to move forward and keep going after you can no longer be with loved ones.  

21. "Life Goes On" by Joyce Grenfell

This poem works if you don’t want a funeral or memorial service. If you haven’t started your end-of-life planning, this poem will help your loved ones grieve.

22. "Wild with All Regrets" by Wilfred Owen

"Wild with All Regrets" is another poem that you might choose when planning your own funeral. It’s about someone who didn’t want to grow old, but now that he is, he'd rather be old than dying.

23. "Dear Henry" by Catherine Staples

Are you a fan of both Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson? If so, then this poem may say everything you need to know. Thoreau is exalted for his life but sympathized with when his own brother dies.

24. "When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d" by Walt Whitman

There are sixteen different sections to this poem and each one of them makes beautiful eulogy examples. You’ll find many nature-inspired lines about birds, lilacs, and the sky.

23. "Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant

"Thanatopsis" is another nature-inspired poem — you could choose a few lines or the entire poem to read at your brother’s eulogy.

A Sibling’s Grief

Grief is immeasurable but the immense love of a brother can carry you through. Even if marriage made him your brother-in-law, some relationships are unbound by blood.

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