When a friend dies, it can be difficult to know how to cope. People will frequently express condolences or send a card for the loss of a family member. But you won’t always get the same outpouring of support when you lose a friend. It can be a very isolating experience.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Short Poems About Losing a Friend to a Serious Illness
- Poems About Losing a Friend Suddenly
- Poems About Losing a Best Friend and Saying Goodbye
However, there are ways you can feel a connection with people who have gone through a similar experience. You can listen to songs about losing a friend, like “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor. You can also read poems about losing a friend. Here is a list of poems that can bring you solace and a sense of connection during a sad time.
Short Poems About Losing a Friend to a Serious Illness
When a friend is seriously or terminally ill, you may have some time to mentally prepare yourself for their death. That doesn’t make the loss any less painful. These poems may help you prepare for the death of a friend. They may also comfort you after they have passed away.
1. "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost
In just a few lines, Frost evokes the fleeting and ephemeral nature of life. The poem also touches on the sadness that happens after the loss of a good person.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
2. "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson
This poem can bring comfort when you lose a friend who has battled a serious illness. You don’t want to frame their death as having lost the fight with a disease. That can imply that your friend just didn’t want to live badly enough. In this poem, the narrator refused to stop for Death, just like your friend did.
3. "She Is Gone (He Is Gone)" by David Harkins
This uplifting poem can help you find solace after the death of a friend. It is an uplifting poem that helps you focus on the good memories of your friend. Harkins’ poem may be more comforting if you’ve had some time to prepare for the loss and work through some of the grief. If you lose a friend suddenly, this positive spin might be too jarring to process.
4. "Farewell" by Anne Brontë
Anne Brontë was mostly known as the novelist who wrote Agnes Grey. But she was also a gifted poet. This poem isn’t overtly about death, but its theme of goodbyes makes it appropriate to read when a friend has died. Its hopeful message reminds us that we can still think of a lost friend and remember them fondly:
Farewell to thee! but not farewell
To all my fondest thoughts of thee:
Within my heart they still shall dwell;
And they shall cheer and comfort me.
Poems About Losing a Friend Suddenly
Losing a friend unexpectedly can be a real shock to the system. These poems about death may help you reconcile a tragic and sudden loss.
5. "To an Athlete Dying Young" by A.E. Houseman
When someone dies young, it can feel incredibly unfair. It feels like the deceased has been cut down in the prime of their life. In this poem, people remember the accomplishments of a talented young athlete. They remember carrying him through the town in celebration of a victory. In a sad echo, the same people carry his body to the cemetery. This poem is a great tribute to a young athlete or adventurer.
6. "Epitaph on an Infant" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
This poem was written about the death of an infant. But these lines:
Ere sin could blight, or sorrow fade,
Death came with friendly care;
The opening bud to heaven conveyed,
And bade it blossom there.
Are an appropriate tribute to any friend who died too young. It’s a surprisingly uplifting verse, that may bring you comfort and peace.
7. "A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When someone dies unexpectedly, it feels as though they were taken before their time. We don’t only mourn their loss. We also mourn everything they never got to do. This poem serves as a reminder that a great person still leaves their mark on the world:
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Even if a deceased friend didn’t accomplish everything they had hoped to, you’re still alive. You can follow in their footsteps and do something great in their memory.
8. "Fear No More the Heat O’ the Sun" by William Shakespeare
One kind of sudden death is suicide. If a friend dies by suicide, you may wrestle with feelings of anger or guilt in addition to grief. This verse is from The Tragedie of Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays. It describes the way some souls find peace in death.
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Poems About Losing a Best Friend and Saying Goodbye
Families are often the ones that speak at funerals. But sometimes a close friend may be tapped to do a reading as well. This may happen if the family is too grief-stricken for public speaking. Or it may be a way to honor the relationship between the deceased and their closest friend. This list of funeral poems may inspire you if you’re asked to speak at the funeral of a close friend.
9. "When Great Trees Fall" by Maya Angelou
This poem beautifully expresses the physical and emotional pain we feel when a friend dies. Angelou describes how even breathing is difficult, and how we painfully dwell on the things we never said. But the last verse expresses that in time, we can take comfort in their memory:
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
10. "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye
If you’re having trouble saying goodbye to a friend who has died, this poem can bring you comfort. In it, the dying narrator implores her friends and family not to let their lives pass them by in their grief. She says that her spirit will be all around them:
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
This message of hope also makes this an ideal funeral poem to soothe other friends and family members.
11. "[I carry your heart with me (i carry it in)]" by e.e. cummings
This is really a love poem, but it can also provide solace after the death of a dear friend. It reminds you that even if you’re separated from a friend by death, their memory lives on in you.
12. "Death, Be Not Proud" by John Donne
This hopeful verse reminds us that Death itself is not invincible. Even if it takes a loved one, they will continue to live on in the memories of their friends and loved ones.
These Poems Can Help You Cope With the Loss of a Good Friend
When your friend dies, it’s easy to feel alone. You experience a great loss, but one that might go unacknowledged. Reading poems about losing a friend can help you process those emotions. It can also help you realize that you’re not alone in your sense of loss.
If you're looking for more poems, read our guide on the best deepest sympathy and condolence poems.