The AVBOB Poetry Competition | Composing Inspired Remembrance Poems | 10 Writing Prompts

10 Writing Prompts for Composing Inspired Remembrance Poems

Paying one’s last respects at a funeral or memorial can be incredibly cathartic. Many regret never having the opportunity to truly say goodbye, and remembrance poems are an expressive way of working through grief and loss. Here at The AVBOB Poetry Project, we believe in the power of the written word and its ability to bring some comfort in those hours that feel darkest. If you are looking for inspiration for remembrance poems or even a eulogy, then these writing prompts may assist you.

  1. Mourning a Loss

    Losing a loved one is the summit of human anguish. There is rarely pain more profound or paralysing. While grieving, no words will ever come close to summarising what this loss means – but it can start the conversation. Remembrance poems centred on one’s mourning will never take the pain away or turn back time, but they can help us to process some of this sorrow.

  2. Acknowledging a Legacy

    Some people live remarkable lives, and the magic of their being will not soon be forgotten. Many remembrance poems focus on a life of marvellous feats and renowned achievements. These are often seen at the funerals and memorials of celebrities and famous figures but are always a great way to remember someone who made the world a better place.

  3. Expressing Raw Emotions

    Grief is not a cut-and-paste process for everyone – and sadness is not the only emotion people feel. If your experience with grief seems complex and as though you are meandering through a range of emotions, it is okay to express this in your poetry.

  4. Remembering a Moment

    Sometimes, a single moment encapsulates the essence of someone’s personhood so perfectly, and in such instances we immediately remember someone whenever we think of them. Some remembrance poems focus on a single moment or scenario and form words around this influential memory.

  5. Celebrating Loving Relationships

    It was Maya Angelou who said that people will never forget how you made them feel. The loss of some people is so immense because their absence is felt by everyone who knew them. If you are not sure how to honour someone’s memory with a remembrance piece, you can write about what they meant to the people around them and the feelings their presence evoked.

  6. Enjoying the Laughter

    Not all memorial or funeral poems need to be sad – they can be a toast to the good times too. Think of a funny memory, inside joke, or humorous trait for which someone was known and write about it. Laughter is not just unifying for people in mourning, but it is a healing tonic for a heavy soul.

  7. Praising Their Strengths

    Overcoming obstacles and traversing life’s challenges is something to honour. If someone has passed on, and they were known for their fighting spirit and ability to push through hard times, then one can write about these accomplishments with awe and reverence.

  8. Comfort for Their Loved Ones

    When someone dies, it is those left behind who must pick up the pieces and make sense of the loss. Remembrance poems need not always focus on the dearly departed, but instead on the bereaved. Words of comfort, encouragement, and strength can be incredibly meaningful to people when read at a funeral.

  9. Bidding a Final Farewell

    As final as death seems, the memories and love still linger. It is hard for human beings to process the sudden absence of someone who was once so full of life. Remembrance poems may not offer the absolute closure most of us seek when someone dies, but they are an expressive, honest way to say goodbye.

  10. What You Wish You Had Said

    Death is often unforeseen, leaving an avalanche of emotions and even guilt at things that went unsaid. If you had no time to tell someone that you love them, forgive them, or how you really felt about them, then writing a piece on this is an ideal way to convey these sentiments.

Writing remembrance poems may be challenging, but our collection of poetry entries may encourage your own creativity. Our library features works by proudly South African writers in all 11 official languages. Here, you will find poetry under the themes of birth, death, love, and hope – and you may just be inspired to pick up your pen and start writing too.