Poetry for the Death of a Father

Poetry for the Death of a Father

Losing a father can be one of the most difficult experiences in life. Poetry can offer a way to express the complex emotions that come with grief and provide a source of comfort during this challenging time. Here are some poems that may help you find solace and understanding in the wake of your father’s passing.

"Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

A classic poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye, “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” speaks to the comfort of knowing that our loved one is at eternal peace. The timeless verse offers a message of hope in the midst of sorrow and reassures us that we will reunite with them again someday:


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.

"Funeral Blues" by W.H. Auden

Another classic poem with a more somber tone is WH Auden’s “Funeral Blues.” This piece of poetry captures more of the intense emotions brought on by loss and pain that individuals often feel in their grief. It speaks to the unbearable sense of emptiness left after a loved one passes away

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

"The Broken Chain" by Ron Tranmer

“The Broken Chain” by Ron Tranmer is a beautiful poem that speaks to the idea of a family chain being broken by losing a loved one. It offers hope and comfort in the idea that the chain will one day be mended in the afterlife. The poem reads:

We little knew that morning that

God was going to call your name.

In life, we loved you dearly,

In death, we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you,

You did not go alone;

Part of us went with you,

The day God called you home.

You left us with peaceful memories,

Your love is still our guide;

And though we cannot see you,

You are always at our side.

Our family chain is broken,

And nothing seems the same;

But as God calls us one by one,

The chain will link again.

"When Great Trees Fall" by Maya Angelou

“When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou is a powerful poem that speaks to the loss of a great figure in our lives. It acknowledges the pain and grief that comes with such a loss, but also offers a sense of hope and resilience in the face of it. The poem reads:

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,


gnaws on kind words


promised walks

never taken.

Great souls die and

our reality, bound to

them, takes leave of us.

Our souls,

dependent upon their


now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed

and informed by their


fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance

of dark, cold


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.”

"The Journey" by Mary Oliver

“The Journey” by Mary Oliver is a poem that speaks to the process of grief and healing after the loss of a loved one. It acknowledges the pain and confusion that comes with such a loss, but also offers a sense of hope and possibility for the future. The poem reads:


One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

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