The AVBOB Poetry Competition | How to Write Poems on Death That Connect Loved Ones in Their Grief

How to Write Eulogies and Poems on Death That Connect Loved Ones in Their Grief

Eulogies, death poems, and memorial pieces can be very comforting in the face of grief. Not only are such written pieces a tender way to honour someone’s life and emphasise their beautiful legacy, but it provides friends and family of the one who has passed away with a sense of solace and unity in their mourning.

Writing impactful eulogies and memorial poems is no simple feat, however, as it requires sensitivity to the emotional condition of the audience and what it would take bring to life the memories of the individual lost. As such, there is no correct way to approach your piece and the process is intuitive, but there are a few considerations you can keep in mind before you begin writing.

Shift Your Focus

Before you start, it is important to set your intention for your piece. Many who write eulogies or poems for funerals do so with a few reasons in mind, which may include:

  • Remembering the individual’s life
  • Celebrating how they made others feel or their impact on the world
  • The cathartic expression for the writer of the piece
  • Comforting friends and family who are grieving from the loss
Attempting to comfort others in mourning is not always possible, as people process the death of a loved one in their own way. What can be done, however, is connecting with those left behind to let them know they are not alone in their pain. While it may offer some closure to write a piece for your own healing, writing something that caters to the connection between others stranded in the wake of a painful death is powerful too.

Tell Your Favourite Stories

For writers asked to pen memorial speeches, death poems, or a personal eulogy, it might feel as though there is a lot of pressure to accurately outline what defined the life of the departed. Unfortunately, no human being, however young or old, can be summed up in a few short lines. For this reason, it may be wiser to centre your piece around a fond memory or story. However personal this may be, it can still showcase the essence of who the person was and people near and dear to them may relate to this. Stories carry weight because they are not easily forgotten, and using your writing to relive these memories means they are kept alive.

Be Sensitive to the Complexity of Emotions

Grieving is not a linear process. There is no beginning and ending, and no clear transition phases either. Emotions involved in the mourning process can range from crippling depression to anger and even relief – and they can co-occur too. Death poems, in particular, often tend towards the macabre or morbid. This is neither an ever-accurate representation of grief, nor always the best way to console the audience.

Your piece, for example, could be light-hearted and funny, or it could be vulnerable in its tender honesty – the choice is ultimately yours. In this way, you will allow your audience to embrace that convoluted emotions are normal and that there is no perfect way to mourn.

Honesty and Authentic Reflection

As people, we have a very human habit of remembering only the highlights and positive moments after the death of someone close. For this reason, funerals and memorials are often filled with praise and even reverence for the one who has died. Authenticity is always more meaningful, though, and this means that you are under no obligation to embellish their character or proclaim the departed to be something they are not. Through tactful and sensitive honesty, you are free to write in a way that reflects on someone’s life with both kindness and truthfulness.

Drawing Out the Golden Thread

Lastly, connecting together a gathering of mourners who have little in common may seem daunting, but all it takes is pinpointing the golden thread that tethers together everyone in attendance. This link could be anything – perhaps that the deceased will be missed by all, that their life left a marvellous legacy behind, or simply that everyone in the room is dealing with a profound and shocking loss. Whatever the thread you find, it can be woven into eulogies, poems, and even in your interactions with others.

If you would like to learn more about funeral poems and writing on the topic of death, our poetry library boasts a collection of carefully selected works from local writers in all 11 official languages.