Losing someone, whether to death or the end of a relationship, is the most painful experience you’ll ever face.
Your grief is so profound and overwhelming that it’s impossible to express the depths of your despair.
If you have lost someone, or you know someone who has, these grief poems and poetry about loss can offer words of comfort and validation on the worst days.
Although poems on loss can’t erase the pain and heartache, they can be part of the process of grief that leads to healing.
13 Poems About Loss to Ease the Pain
If you are searching for a poem about grieving and loss, read through the following thirteen we have curated just for you.
Each poem on loss speaks to a unique situation that you or a loved one may be experiencing right now.
Turn Again to Life, Mary Hall
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!
Loss and Gain, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.
I am aware
How many days have been idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.
But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.
Excerpt from Starlings in Winter, Mary Oliver
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.
Coat, Vicki Feaver
Sometimes I have wanted
to throw you off
like a heavy coat.
Sometimes I have said
you would not let me
breathe or move.
But now that I am free
to choose light clothes
or none at all
I feel the cold
and all the time I think
how warm it used to be.
Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep, Mary Elizabeth Frye
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 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.
Don’t Run Away from Grief, Rumi
Don’t run away from grief, o’ soul
Look for the remedy inside the pain
Because the rose came from the thorn
And the ruby came from a stone.
Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
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.
I So Liked Spring, Charlotte Mew
I so liked Spring last year
Because you were here; –
The thrushes too –
Because it was these you so liked to hear –
I so liked you.
This year’s a different thing, –
I’ll not think of you.
But I’ll like the Spring because it is simply Spring
As the thrushes do.
For Grief, John O’Donahue
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.
Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.
There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.
The Uses of Sorrow, Mary Oliver
Someone I loved once
gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that
this, too, was a gift.
One Art, Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
I Have Lost You, Edna St. Vincent Milay
Well, I have lost you; and I lost you fairly;
In my own way, and with my full consent.
Say what you will, kings in a tumbrel rarely
Went to their deaths more proud than this one went.
Some nights of apprehension and hot weeping
I will confess; but that’s permitted me;
Day dried my eyes; I was not one for keeping
Rubbed in a cage a wing that would be free.
If I had loved you less or played you slyly
I might have held you for a summer more,
But at the cost of words I value highly,
And no such summer as the one before.
Should I outlive this anguish, and men do,
I shall have only good to say of you.
In Blackwater Woods, Mary Oliver
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
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You are not alone in your sadness and loss — these are universal experiences. That’s why these poems of grieving were written and shared by so many.
Write down your favorites to read in times of deep sadness, or share one with someone you care about who has recently had a loss.
Allow the words to provide comfort and support as you move through the difficult days ahead.