35+ Short Poems Fit for Obituaries or Death Announcements

Updated

One benefit of social media is that you can announce the death of a loved one to extended family and friends all at once. If most of your contacts are on Facebook, you can instantly spread the unhappy news, which will save you hours of calling or texting family members and friends.

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Another benefit of announcing a death on social media is that your loved one’s obituary can be as long as you want. Newspapers charge per line to publish an obituary, so this may limit the number of details that you include about your loved one’s life—sharing an obituary though social media is free. So, if you feel like adding a poem, there’s nothing to stop you.

You may feel moved to share a poem in your loved one’s obituary, especially if it correctly describes your grief. Here are some verses to consider. 

Poems for Mom or Grandma’s Obituary

The poem you include in your mom or grandma’s obituary may be about one of her passions, such as flowers, hiking, or quilting. The poem may also describe the grief that you feel upon losing the matriarch of your family. You may even consider including a verse that your mom adored and often quoted.

Here are some funeral poems about the death of moms that you may consider using in her obituary. 

1. “Rain Light” by W.S. Merwin

You may feel lost without your mom. This poem reminds us that even though we are hurting, we will be all right. Just as the flowers “wake without a question even though the whole world is burning,” we will continue with life. Your own mom may have reminded you of this before she died. 

2. “Woman’s Dance Song” Temecula Native American Poem

In this poem, a woman writes about how nature predicts the death of a loved one. She sees and hears signs from the frog, condor, garter snake, and owl. Many people describe feeling premonitions about the death of a loved one, either through nature or another source. 

3. “After Great Pain” by Emily Dickinson

Even though Emily Dickinson did not share many poems with the world while she was still alive, we have learned much about her thoughts and feelings by analyzing the neatly-bound poems that were found after her death. In this poem, she describes the pain of losing someone to death. 

4. “Talking to Grief” by Denise Levertov

In this unique poem, the speaker talks to grief like it is a dog. Even though it sounds strange, it actually reminds us that, like dogs, grief is our constant companion. Grief isn’t something to “get through.” It changes you into something different, and it shouldn’t be avoided. 

Poems for Dad or Grandpa’s Obituary

Saying goodbye to a dad or grandpa can be one of the hardest things you ever do. Some of these poems speak about that pain. Here are some verses about the death of a patriarch.

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

This famous poem is read in many English classrooms across the country. It is about watching a father die and wishing he would “rage” against dying. 

6. “Ave Atque Vale” by James Laughlin

This is not a pleasant poem, but it speaks about a universal emotion that people feel after losing someone. The speaker in this poem is very angry at his father for dying. This poem may cause some people to feel uncomfortable, but it may accurately describe your thoughts on your dad’s death. 

7. “The Race” by Sharon Olds

This poem is written as a narrative. It describes a person rushing to get a flight to see her father on his deathbed. Again, this poem is not something that you would regularly find on a memorial card, but it may accurately describe how you felt when rushing to sit with your father as he dies. 

8. “Grief” by Stephen Dobyns

In his poem, Stephen Dobyns tries to describe how he feels grief. He writes, “to say your name was to be surrounded by feathers and silk; now, reaching out, I touch glass and barbed wire.” 

Poems for Your Brother or Sister’s Obituary

Losing a friend or sibling may feel strange, especially if you are of similar age. Not only do you feel the pain of losing someone close to you, but you also are forced to face your own mortality. Here are some poems that people have written about the death of a sibling. 

9. “Remember Me When I’m Gone Away” by Christina Rossetti

The speaker in the poem is dying, and she asks that she is remembered after she is gone. But she leaves specific instructions to her mourners. She asks them not to grieve, but instead remember her with a smile. If they are unable to remember her with a smile, she asks that her friends and family forget about her. 

10. “For My Brother: Reported Missing in Action, 1942” by Thomas Merton

If your brother died while serving his country, this poem might speak to you. The poem is written from a Christian perspective and speaks about the brother returning to his heavenly home.

11. “Catullus 101” By Gaius Valerius Catullus

Gaius Valerius Catullus was an Italian poet who died in 54 B.C. In this poem, the speaker travels many miles to attend his brother’s services. He uses the words of the poem to say a final goodbye, as the last line states: “And now, for all time, Brother, this salute, and this farewell.”

12. “My Sister, Who Died Young, Takes Up the Task” by Jon Pineda

In this poem, the speaker reflects upon the simple actions of his sister, who sees a bowl of apples and sits down to peel and slice them. Sometimes it’s the most everyday occurrences that we remember after a loved one is gone. 

Poems for Your Child or Step-Child’s Obituary

People who have lost children have described it as the most devastating thing they have ever experienced. Some poets are able to channel their grief by writing a poem. While some of these poems are specifically about the loss of a child, others are poems about the death of any person. 

13. “On My First Son” by Ben Jonson

This poem is about the death of a seven-year-old boy. Ben Jonson wrote in England and was a contemporary of William Shakespeare.

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

Did your child love to spend time in nature? This melancholy poem describes how it will never happen again. Its beginning stanza reads, “Never more will the wind cherish you again, never more will the rain.”

15. “Mourning Chao” by Li Po

Yes, this poem speaks about the death of a specific person named Chao, but any reader can enjoy its beautiful imagery. 

16. “Loss” by Ruth Stone

Ruth Stone describes the overwhelming grief one experiences when losing a child. She describes getting lost in thought, wandering around the house, and feeling burdened and overwhelmed by the items surrounding her.

Poems for a Beloved Friend’s Obituary

Have you been asked to write an obituary for your friend? You may want to include a poem about death or grieving. 

17. “Redemption Song” by Kevin Young

It is not clear who the speaker in this poem is mourning, but it describes how, for a moment, you may forget that your loved one is gone. “I’m tired of tide taking you away, then back again -- what’s worse, the forgetting or the thing you can’t forget.”

18. “Lyke-Wake Dirge” Traditional English Song

You may be able to find the version of this poem that includes the old English spelling. Although it may be tricky for the modern reader to read and understand, the refrain is undoubtedly clear: “And Christ receive your soul.”

19. “Books, Paintings” by Ryszard Krynicki

In this poem, the speaker talks about all of our belongings, like books and paintings, can be taken from us. People can be taken from us, too. But even though things can disappear, the words of our loved ones will “flow through us” for eternity.

20. “Vigil” by Phillis Levin

In this short poem, the speaker is sitting vigil with a loved one who recently died. She wants the deceased to simply will himself back to life. 

deceased to simply will himself back to life. 

Poems for a Grandchild’s Obituary

If you can’t find the right words to express the depth of your grief, you might consider borrowing the words of a poet. Here are some poems for a grandchild’s obituary:

21. “God’s Littlest Angel” by Unknown

A heartbreaking situation calls for a heartbreaking poem. “God’s Littlest Angel” concludes with, “Cause when you look in the sky on a clear and starry night, I will be the star that is shining so bright.”

22. “A Child” by Unknown

The entire text of this poem about the death of a child reads:

“God needed an angel in Heaven to stand at the Savior’s feet. 
His choice must be the rarest, a lily pure and sweet.
He gazed upon the mighty throng, then stopped and picked the best.
Our child was his chosen one, with Jesus, he’s now at rest.”

23. “My Child Did Exist” by Unknown

Please understand that this poem is written from the perspective of the parent of a lost child. However, we chose to include it on our list because it shares an important message that may resonate with families who lost a child at birth or due to a miscarriage. 

Poems for an Uncle or Aunt’s Obituary

Sometimes a funeral poem is chosen based on the deceased's personality, but other times it is meant to comfort those left behind. 

Here are several poems that would be appropriate for any adult’s funeral:

24. “The Blessings of Patience and Comfort” by Helen Steiner Rice

Helen Steiner Rice was known for writing inspiring Christian-themed poems. This poem ends with, “So I commend you into God’s care, and each day I will say a prayer that you will feel His presence near to help dissolve your every fear.”

25. “Small Things” by Joseph Murray Emms

Did your aunt or uncle have the ability to look on the bright side of things? This poem celebrates the simple pleasures of life, such as a candle in the dark and the singing of a lark. Remind others of your aunt’s or uncle’s amazing spirit by sharing this short poem.

26. “Kinship” by Mamie I. Roehrig

The speaker in this poem receives solace from the language of the stars. 

“They have a language of their own,
These messengers around the throne,
And I make haste, when trouble jars,
To claim my kinship with the stars.”

This poem is meant to comfort those in grief. 

Poems for an Infant’s Obituary

You may have no words to comfort those who lost an infant. So here are some poems to consider sharing in this unique situation.

27. “Tears” by Unknown

This often-used poem describes how many people feel when they lose someone important to them.

“If tears could build a stairway,
and memories a lane,
I’d walk right up to Heaven
and bring you home again.
No farewell words were spoken
no time to say goodbye
you were gone before I knew it,
and only God knows why.
My heart still aches in sadness
and secret tears still flow,
what it meant to lose you,
no one will ever know.”

28. “Epitaph for a Child” by Unknown

An epitaph is a message that is carved onto a headstone. However, this epitaph could be shared as a poem if you wish.

“Here, freed from pain, secure from misery, lies
A child, the darling of his parents’ eyes:
A gentler Lamb never sported on the plain,
A fairer flower will never bloom again;
Now let him sleep in peace on his night of death.”

29. “Heaven’s Rocking Chair” by Ron Tramner

This poem paints the picture of a Heaven full of rocking chairs, which are being used to lovingly rock the babies who were taken too soon.

Poems for a Partner or Spouse’s Obituary

Remember, not all poems for obituaries need to be about death. If you and your partner or spouse shared the love of a particular poet or verse, consider using that poem at the funeral.

30. “A Moment to Remember” by Alice Kennelly Roberts

We like this poem because it is not about death. Instead, it is about experiencing one of life’s perfect moments—perhaps like one you shared with your husband or wife.

One stanza reads, “It may come on a mountain height
All undisturbed by centuries, Or when a star falls very low
To touch the branches of the trees.”

31. “The Road Ahead” by Harry E. Brainard

Grief is more than sadness. It comes with a wide range of emotions—sometimes even fear. 

This poem begins, 

“I ask not what my lot will be
Nor what the price that must be paid,
But only Lord, whate’er be,
That I shall meet it, unafraid.”

32. “Vespers” by Ione C. Adamson

The word “vespers” refers to evening prayers. You may feel like life has suddenly turned into a long evening or night after losing your loved one. This poem reminds those of faith to look for God during those troubling times.

Poems for a Pet’s Obituary

Are you looking for words of comfort after losing a pet? Here are some poems to share with others:

33. “Four Feet” by Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling, the author of “The Jungle Book”, wrote this poem about the loss of a dog. It begins,

“I have done mostly what most men do
And pushed it out of my mind.
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to,
Four feet trotting behind.”

34. “My Last Request” by Unknown

We aren’t sure who wrote this poem, but it would undoubtedly resonate with anyone who euthanized an aged dog. You’ll be assured that you made the right decision when you read “My Last Request.”

35. “The Rainbow Bridge” by Paul C. Dahm

Probably one of the most well-known poems about the loss of a pet, “The Rainbow Bridge” describes the beautiful green pasture where pets spend time waiting for their owners to join them. 

36. “Heavenly Nap” by Ron Tranmer

Are you looking for a poem specifically about a cat? Consider “Heavenly Nap.” It begins, “You lived your nine lives here with me

You loyal, loving friend.
Then God took you up to Paradise
To live number ten.”

Places You Can Post an Obituary for a Loved One

Where can you post an obituary? Do families publish obituaries in newspapers anymore? 

Here are some places to post your loved one’s obituary. In addition, we’ll provide you with ideas you may have never considered, as well as give you links to new websites designed for that purpose. 

We’ll also fill you in on one part of obituary publishing that you may not have known if you have never had to plan a funeral.

Here are some places you can post an obituary for a loved one:

Newspaper

Some families choose to spread the word about a loved one’s death by publishing an obituary in a newspaper. A family may submit the obituary to the newspaper in the city where the person lived right before death and the newspaper in the town where they spent their childhood. 

It’s important to note that most newspapers require that a funeral home submit the obituary. Of course, this is not always true, but some newspapers have this requirement to prevent false information from appearing in the paper.

Additionally, most newspapers charge a per-word fee to print obituaries. The cost usually depends on the newspaper’s circulation. You may have to spend hundreds of dollars to publish the obituary of your loved one—more if you include a photograph. 

Most newspapers will publish the obituary of your loved one in the print and online versions of their publication. However, some charge separately for each of those services.

It’s worth noting that some newspapers partner with Legacy, an obituary website. 

Online memorial websites

Many online memorial websites have popped up through the years. Each website may have a slightly different focus, but most will allow you to share the obituary of your loved one on the memorial or remembrance page.

Some of these websites also assist families with end-of-life event planning. In addition, these memorial pages can be shared with friends and family, and visitors are encouraged to post memories and photos of the deceased for all users to see. 

Funeral home or cremation provider websites

Most funeral homes or cremation providers post the obituaries of the deceased under their care. Sometimes the funeral home staff may assist you with writing the obituary, while others will publish the obituary you provide. Some businesses charge an additional fee to write or post the obituary, but others include these services in their basic package.   

Some funeral home obituary websites link to larger ones, especially if the funeral home is part of a nationwide network with locations throughout the continent. An example of this is the Dignity Memorial network of funeral homes, cremation centers, and cemeteries. 

Industry publications and alumni magazines

If your loved one was known within a specific industry or was a member of a high school or college alumni group, you might consider publishing the news of their death within those publications or websites. 

Social media

You may consider writing the obituary of your loved one and posting it to your Facebook or Twitter page. Even though this option is free, consider using another one of the other choices on our list as well. Remember, not everyone is connected on social media. If you wish to share details about the funeral, you may need to find a way to reach a wider audience.

Funeral program

Many people include the obituary on the funeral program for the deceased. Your friends and family may appreciate this as many keep copies of both as memorial keepsakes. 

What Poem Do You Want to be Included in Your Obituary?

As you consider your end-of-life plans, you may have made arrangements to be cremated and have your ashes scattered at sea. You may have chosen the flowers for your funeral, and the songs to be played at the visitation. You may have even asked a specific person to write your eulogy.

But if words are important to you, you may consider choosing a poem to be included in your obituary. Doing so would enable you to make a final statement to the world about the things you value. You may even want to write your own poem to express your thoughts and feelings about life. 

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