20+ Short Poems Fit for Obituaries or Death Announcements


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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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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