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Poems about dying and bereavement

Updated: Jun 12

When I Die By Jeanne Gallick

When I die

When I release that last exhale

Will there be an inhale


I look into the yellow eyes of a black jackal. He blinks and I see adoration

and I know I passed the test.

We are loved.

Beyond measure.

Beyond understanding.

I’ve always been an insomniac,

so I expect my death too

will be a rocky path.

Come Death.

Be easy.

When I call, come and take me into your arms of glory.

Once I heard a Bach organ concert

a Mass - the Magnificat,

Not for Jesus

But for me.

For a few moments of Ecstasy hearing that music,

I knew what it felt like to die.

It must be like that to die.

Oh let it be so!

No rocky path, stumbling, fearful, looking into yellow eyes.

No! A Magnificent Path of Triumph!

As I march down that dark aisle I see

my life story in living colors,

my Passion,

my search indomitable never ending…

my Resurrection incandescent vibrating, a new body of light.

the Virgin adoring me as I lie in her arms…

Above the alter no bloody vision of suffering and martyrdom


I see Donatello’s St Theresa

receiving the arrows of Eros

as she dissolves into bliss.

Jeanne is a self confessed crone and I found her poem, through a Crone's Council newsletter. I loved the sense of life and acceptance in her poem and her search 'indomitable never ending'.


Becky Hemsley 'Still' from When I am Gone I can’t say I loved you. I just can’t Because it makes it sound as if my love is past tense.

Gone, finished, ended. And that is so far from the truth. My love is not in the past.

It will never be gone. I love you now.

Still. You didn’t take all this love away with you.

It stays. It lingers. Some days it jumps up and hits me in the face just to remind me that it is still here.

Still persevering. Some days it nudges me. Challenges me to keep going.

Daring me to find the strength to get through the day. But mostly, it just resonates inside of me with everything I do.

With every step forward and every glance back. Every close of my eyes. Every breath. My love is not dependent on you being here. There is nowhere far enough, and nothing permanent enough to stop me from loving you. So I will not say I loved you. Because I love you. Still. *****

I picked this poem as it sums up how love really is ever lasting. We can love so deeply even still after the body has died.

Again by Becky Helmsley I’ve found myself thinking “I couldn’t go through this again.”

But when I think about it - I mean, really think about it – that’s not true.

If I had my time again…

I would know you again.

I would love you again.

And if that meant I would lose you again, I would still do it.

Because this is hard.

But, whilst I think I couldn’t do it again, the alternative is never knowing you.

Never loving you.

And that is even more painful than this.

And that’s how I know I’ll be ok. In the end. Because I know that my love – our love – is stronger than my loss.

Because I know that I would lose you all over again.

As long as I had the opportunity to love you.

I love this poem as it swings between the cost of loving and losing. I agree, it is better to have loved and lost, than never loved at all!

I do

A bride without her mother grieving

We always assumed I'd be with you tomorrow A day full of joy and devoid of all sorrow

But life, without warning, had other ideas And though you feel sadness that I won't be here,

Just know I'll be with you each step of the way In every moment, each part of your day

Like when you get ready and put on your dress, Whilst walking the aisle and greeting your guests

When you are eating and when you are dancing When you are crying and when you are laughing

Yes, when you are smiling whilst saying "I do" Then know I'll be smiling along with you too

And if it's too much and you just need a moment A time to be still and to be all alone then

Go where it's quiet and look to the sky Let yourself miss me and let yourself cry

But after a minute then dry all your tears Return to your joy, 'cause I promise I’m here

I’m in here in the tales and the stories you share I’m here in the laughter that rings in the air

I’m here in your memories, here in your heart Here by your side even when we’re apart

So go to your day, but don’t think of me missing Think of me smiling and dancing and singing

And though you can't see me, just know I see you And never forget That I love you

I do


Becky Hemsley 2023 As Becky said 'Absent family and friends are still loved just as much as those present. We just have to find ways to share moments of our day with them in a different way.' I loved this poem as it is such a profound challenge. I hope it is a comfort.

The Mountain

If the mountain seems too big today then climb a hill instead; If morning brings you sadness it’s okay to stay in bed. If the day ahead feels heavy and your plans feel like a curse, There’s no shame in rearranging, don’t make yourself feel worse. If a shower stings like needles and a bath feels like you’ll drown; If you haven’t washed your hair for days, don’t throw away your crown! A day is not a lifetime. A rest is not defeat. Don’t think of it as failure, Just a quiet, kind retreat. It’s okay to take a moment From an anxious, fractured mind. The world will not stop turning While you get realigned! The mountain will still be there When you want to try again You can climb it in your own time, Just love yourself till then! Laura Ding-Edwards

I picked this poem by Laura Ding Edwards because when I work with grieving clients one thing that is nearly always present is a sense of exhaustion and then to compound the suffering at an awful time, a feeling of guilt about being so exhausted that stops people from resting. One client described the never ending 'sad-min' (admin that made her sad) to be done but together we found a strategy that worked 'shift sadmin' (one day on, two days off to rest). I love this poem as it teaches me to listen to my body's communication. The body never lies.

This sums up the hope I trust you will be able to find through your grief:

I wish I could take

the colours from a rainbow

and place them

in your heart.

So you remember

what beautiful feels like

and know there is

hope in the dark.

Christy Ann Martine

If you need support to manage your feelings around bereavement and loss, please get in touch with me. I am a bereavement counsellor/volunteer for a national charity and work privately using EFT and Mindfulness to support clients with grief.


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