Losing a loved one is never easy, and finding the right words after this loss can be downright overwhelming. Losing someone to suicide can be even more complicated. Choosing a funeral poem that expresses these complex feelings of grief and loss is a powerful way to honor someone’s life.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Funeral Poems for a Parent Who Died of Suicide
- Funeral Poems for a Sibling Who Died of Suicide
- Funeral Poems for a Friend Who Died of Suicide
- Funeral Poems for a Spouse or Partner Who Died of Suicide
Since the dawn of time, humans throughout different civilizations have used poetry to express emotions that are hard to explain in everyday words. From love to sorrow, these poems span the entire human experience and reach us when it matters most.
If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide, honor their legacy with the funeral poems below. There are already so many things on your plate when learning how to plan a memorial service. Let us guide you in choosing the right funeral poem for you with these thoughtful suggestions.
Funeral Poems for a Parent Who Died of Suicide
For many of us, parents are our first protectors. They lead us in the world with confidence, and losing them to suicide is heart-shattering. These poems below can bring peace and comfort in a dark time, and they’re a reminder that you can heal from this pain.
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1. “Mama Never Forgets Her Birds” by Emily Dickinson
Written by the famous poet Emily Dickinson to console her young cousins after their mother’s death, this is a powerful yet simple poem. Written about birds, this poem shares the story of a mother bird who leaves the nest. Though she’s now in another tree, “she looks down just as often and just as tenderly.”
2. “In Lieu of Flowers” by Shawna Lemay
Though only three lines, the message of this poem is clear. Live your life fully, and live it for others. Instead of asking for flowers as a bereavement gift, the narrator of this poem encourages readers to “blossom” open with beauty. In other words, take care of yourself, and live your life in every moment.
3. “Making a Fist” by Naomi Shihab Nye
As a child, we think up endless questions to make sense of the world around us. Nye recounts a time she asks her mother how you know if you’re going to die. The mother’s answer is simple, “When you can no longer make a fist.” Nye still thinks about these small moments and is thankful for all her mother taught her.
4. “Where the Sky Meets the Earth” by W. Todd Kaneko
Written about the death of his father, Kaneko shares his grief through images of nature. Though his father’s body is made of “everything that has fallen from Heaven,” we have to let go of those we love when their time comes.
Funeral Poems for a Sibling Who Died of Suicide
Siblings are often our first friends, and if we’re lucky, we grow old with them. Losing a beloved sibling to suicide brings enormous grief, but we can honor their lives with poems that can double as a short eulogy.
5. “Because I could not stop for death” by Emily Dickinson
Dickinson’s poems often discuss significant themes like death, eternity, and time itself. In “Because I could not stop for death,” death is personified. Like an old friend, he stops and waits kindly for the narrator to join him in the carriage. In this poem, death is not something to fear. It’s a peace that envelops us all in the end, like a friend we’ve always known.
6. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost
Just like the changing of seasons, nothing good lasts forever. The only certainty in life is change. Those you love are worth loving and holding close, but don’t fall into endless grief when they’re gone. You can always count on good days, bad days, and everything in between.
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7. “You’ve Just Walked on Ahead of Me” by Joyce Grenfell
Coming to terms with the death of a sibling is difficult. The poet Grenfell prefers to think of it as letting them walk ahead of you. Though you’re no longer together, you still walk the same path. More importantly, you’ll always follow their footsteps in the sand of life.
8. “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Rich in sailing imagery, this poem is about the peace of “crossing the bar” towards death. The speaker of this poem hopes that those he leaves behind will not mourn his death because he’s entirely at peace with nature and the great beyond.
Funeral Poems for a Friend Who Died of Suicide
You don’t have to use poems about death to honor your loved one during their funeral. For a friend who was always there, the poems below recognize that your friend led a rich, full life, leaving behind mourners who will remember them forever.
9. “On the Death of the Beloved” by John O’Donohue
It’s important to grieve after a loss, but we don’t have to let this grief drown us. We still find signs of those we love in every beautiful moment and action. Now they’re at peace somewhere safe where “no storm or night or pain can reach.”
10. “When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou
In this poem, Angelou creates a metaphor, painting humans as trees. Though they might seem like they can never fall, their day comes at last. Yet, they leave a lasting impression on the world around them whether they stand or fall. In other words, the world is a better place because they were here.
11. “Dirge Without Music” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Millay is a master of capturing grief in her poems. “Dirge Without Music'' shares how everyone dies, including the beautiful, the tender, the kind, and the brave. Though we all become part of the world’s dust, love is what remains.
12. “Idyll” by Siegfried Sassoon
True friends are never separated, not even by death. You will find each other again in the light of day and surrounded by the best of nature. When you meet again, there will be “joy in the world, and peace, and dawn’s one star.”
Funeral Poems for a Spouse or Partner Who Died of Suicide
If you’ve lost a partner or spouse, the pain is real and complex — almost indescribable. Poetry bridges the gaps in feelings, helping us make sense of what’s left behind after such a huge loss. More importantly, the poems below are a reminder that those we love never leave us.
13. “The Window” by Rumi
Rumi’s poems often cover topics of grief and loss. “The Window” is a poem about being separated from someone you love. Though they’re no longer with you, there is always a “window open” connecting the partners’ hearts.
14. “Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson
Dickinson tackles the concept of ‘hope’ in this poem. She describes it as perching on the soul and singing a tune “without the words.” Even in the toughest of times, hope is a fluttering thing with feathers, like a bird that refuses to leave.
15. “Again and Again” by Rainer Maria Rilke
Love’s landscape is the same over and over in this Rilke poem. Even death can’t keep two lovers apart, and they’ll continue to reunite “amongst the flowers” and under the “ancient trees” for the rest of time.
16. “Loss” by Winifred M. Letts
This Letts poem recounts the pain of losing a partner. The poem begins, “In losing you, I lost my sun and moon, and all the stars that blessed my lonely night.” Throughout the poem, the writer lists everything they’ve lost with the death of their partner. This poem truly validates the deep pain of widowhood.
Honor Your Loved One After a Loss
Losing someone you love to suicide can leave you struggling with overwhelming grief and other conflicting emotions. For many, there are feelings of guilt, sorrow, fear, and even anger. It’s important to find ways to cope with these feelings, and saying goodbye with a funeral or memorial service is the first step.
What do you say at the funeral for someone who meant so much to you? Because finding the right words to say is hard, borrow from the above masters of literature. These writers all walked in your footsteps, sharing similar losses of their own. These human connections of grief unite us all, and we can use these poems to express our grief, sorrow, and compassion.