13 Poems About Grief For Support During Loss

Looking for the best, most comforting poems about losing a loved one?

You’re not alone.

Just looking through condolence cards at a local store is unlikely to help you find just what you’re looking for to express the complex emotions of grief and loss.

I mean, it could happen.

It just probably won’t. 

You don’t want to read dozens of variations on “We’re so sorry about your loss.”

You want something that makes you think, “Finally… someone gets it.” 

The poets featured in this post clearly understand what you’re going through.

How to Use These Grief Poems  

It’s one thing to find a meaningful poem about the death of a loved one — or the loss of a cherished relationship. What can you do with this poem once you find it? 

We have some ideas:

  • Write one in a condolence card of your own making;
  • Write your favorites in a personal poetry journal;
  • Use your favorites (or least favorites) as writing prompts;
  • Use calligraphy to make an artful poster with the poem of your choice. 

If you’re sharing a poem with someone you love, keep their tastes and preferences in mind. If this is for you, make it your own.  

13 Poems About Grief for Solace and Support 

Read through each of the following poems about loss and make a note of the ones that resonate with you. 

“Your Grief for What You’ve Lost Lifts a Mirror,” by Rumi

In this poem, Rumi explores how someone’s grief reveals who they are by holding up a mirror to reflect on how they’re coping from one moment to the next. 

In the midst of grief, things look darkest. That’s why the loving presence of a real friend or something you know your loved one enjoyed can bring more comfort than you expect. 

You notice these things when you’re present and taking notice of your surroundings, even when you expect the worst. Every small, repetitive movement is a rallying cry. 

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror

up to where you are bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,

here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes, and opens and closes.

If it were always a fist or always stretched open,

you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,

the two as beautifully balanced

and coordinated

as birds’ wings.

“Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night,” by Dylan Thomas

Thomas argues with his dying father, practically begging him to fight death rather than give into it. He brings up one example after another of people who, even after a life of which they had reason to be proud, raged against the dying of the light. 

They didn’t meekly surrender to death, and, Thomas argues, his father should be no different. To him, peaceful resignation seems more of an outrage than death itself. 

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

“All Is Well,” by Henry Scott-Holland

The poet suggests that death is a thin veil separating the love and closeness you share with the deceased. Death is nothing but a momentary interruption of your life together — a mere blip. 

Everything remains the same through memory and love until you are reunited in the afterlife. 

Death is nothing at all.

It does not count.

I have only slipped away into the next room.

Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.

I am I, and you are you,

and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.

Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.

Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.

Put no difference into your tone.

Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.

Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.

Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.

It is the same as it ever was.

There is absolute and unbroken continuity.

What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you, for an interval,

somewhere very near,

just round the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.

One brief moment and all will be as it was before.

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

“When Great Trees Fall,” by Maya Angelou

Angelou compares the far-reaching impact of falling a great tree to the loss of a great soul — someone on whom they’ve come to depend for wisdom, insight, and strength. It changes everything. It takes something away that nothing and no one else can provide. 

But after a time, the passing of this great soul can bring peace, not because their life interrupted it but because they left the world better than they found it. 

When great trees fall,

rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down

in tall grasses,

and even elephants

lumber after safety.

When great trees fall

in forests,

small things recoil into silence,

their senses

eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,

the air around us becomes

light, rare, sterile.

We breathe, briefly.

Our eyes, briefly,

see with

a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened,

examines,

gnaws on kind words

unsaid,

promised walks

never taken.

Great souls die and

our reality, bound to

them, takes leave of us.

Our souls,

dependent upon their

nurture,

now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed

and informed by their

radiance,

fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance

of dark, cold

caves.

poems about grief

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.

“Into the Freedom,” by Ruth Burgess

Burgess writes of letting go of someone she lost as if she’s releasing them to something bigger and even more beautiful than the life and legacy they created. Her parting words offer love, longing, and a genuine desire for the other’s happiness. 

Death is a doorway to greater freedom, peace, and joy. So, while the poet and others who loved the departed will miss them so much it hurts, they let go with a hope that matches the pain. 

Into the freedom of wind and sunshine

We let you go

Into the dance of the stars and the planets

We let you go

Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the star-maker

We let you go

We love you, we miss you, we want you to be happy

Go safely, go dancing, go running home

“Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep,” by Mary Frye

The poet writes to remind those who love her not to grieve her (eventual) passing by visiting her grave. She wants to reassure them that, even if they no longer see her, she’s still very much alive, though in a different form. 

She would rather they see her in all the daily miracles they can only see when they’re living in the present moment — the wind, the glittering snow, the sunlight, the rain, the birds, etc. 

She won’t be in her physical body anymore. Those who love her will know where to look.  

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there.

I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there.

I did not die.

“Afterglow,” by Helen Lowrie Marshall

The poet wants to leave those who survive her with happy memories — more reasons to smile than grieve. She wants to see their tears dry quickly, warmed by the memory of laughter and happy times together. 

While it’s a big ask, especially if the love they held for her goes deep, it comes from her fervent hope that her death will cause minimal pain. 

I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.

I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.

poems about grief

I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,

Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.

I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun;

Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.

“Remember,” by Christina Rosetti

Rosetti wants to be remembered by the one she loves most. But ultimately, she would rather they forget and feel joy again than remember and feel weighed down by grief.

She’s under no illusions that death will be painless or that the abrupt change in the plans they had won’t leave her beloved feeling lost. She wants them to remember their time together — and all the things that made even ordinary moments special. 

What she doesn’t want is for those memories to keep her beloved from moving on and feeling joy again. 

Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you planned:

Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.


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“I Died As a Mineral,” by Rumi

Rumi uses this poem to share his beliefs regarding creation, reincarnation, and the afterlife. Knowing his death as a human will lead to a blissful existence as an angel makes death something to welcome (or at least trustingly accept) rather than fear. 

Beyond that angelic plane, he looks forward to “non-existence” or the point at which he returns to the essence of the creator. 

For those who share this belief, these words offer comfort. 

I died as a mineral and became a plant,

I died as plant and became animal,

I died as animal and I was human.

Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

Yet once more I shall die, to soar

With angels blest; but even from angelhood

I must pass on: all except God perishes.

Only when I have given up my angel-soul,

Shall I become what no mind has ever conceived.

Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence

Proclaims in organ tones, To God we shall return.

“When Death Comes,” by Mary Oliver

Oliver wrote this piece to express her hopes regarding death. She doesn’t want to live in fear or dread of what she knows is inevitable. She wants to approach it with curiosity and an open mind. 

She wants to be on friendly terms with life and all its mundane miracles and to believe the universe holds every life (human, animal, plant, etc.) precious. She engages with life as if everything were a brother, a sister, and a teacher, preparing her for the next step. 

​​When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes

like the measle-pox

when death comes

like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything

as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common

as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something

precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay,” by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green comes from the fresh buds on the trees, which don’t stay gold for long. Fresh blooms come but quickly disappear, giving way to leaves, which eventually fall — just as the biblical Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden. 

Frost wrote this poem about spring’s ending to point out that nothing beautiful lasts forever. Nothing stays young and fresh forever. 

Morning passes to afternoon, which passes to night. Life does the same. 

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.

“Turn Again to Life,” by Mary Lee Hall

Hall asks a lot of the one she loves by expecting them to stoic-up and be everyone else’s rock when she dies. The silver lining is she clearly sees her beloved as strong enough to comfort “weaker hearts” (i.e., those more deeply affected by her death?). 

She’s asking the one she loves to pick up where she left off and just power through. She wants their assurance that they’ll “turn again to life and smile.” 

And this is why white lies have a place in polite society.   

If I should die and leave you here a while,

be not like others sore undone, who keep

long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.

For my sake – turn again to life and smile,

nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do

something to comfort weaker hearts than thine.

Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine

and I, perchance may therein comfort you.

“Starlings in Winter (Excerpt),” by Mary Oliver

This poem of Oliver’s is a reflection on grief and “getting past it” by mindfully enjoying the beauty that still exists in the world, even amid a leafless winter and “ashy city.” 

She wants to feel alive again and to take delight in the world she lives in. She wants to be lighthearted and fun-loving, and fearless. She envies the starling and wants wings of her own. 

Reflecting on this and on grief helps her write honestly about what she wants. And it may be just the push she needs to do something that gets her closer to that. 

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,  

even in the leafless winter,

even in the ashy city.

I am thinking now

of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots

trying to leave the ground,

I feel my heart

pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.

I want to be light and frolicsome.

I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, 

as though I had wings.

Now that you’ve looked through all 13 poems about grief, you’ve probably noticed some are better than others for condolence cards. Some are better for writing prompts. 

And still, others might have you thinking more deeply about your own grief because “That’s not how it is for me at all!” 

If any of these help you clarify what you’re feeling, we call that a win. 

In times of sadness and grief, words are great way of comforting someone. Share this poems about grief to comfort someone in need.

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