R.I.P. Poems: How to Write a Poem About Death

As it in inevitable for us all, death is a universal experience that affects every single person. Dealing with such intense pain can be hard to manage, and to write about the death of a loved one or friend is hard. It is a theme that tugs at our deepest, most naked human emotions. While no words can do justice to a life that is lost, poetry is a tool that can help you process the loss and is extremely effective as a coping mechanism during difficult times of mourning or grief. It is an avenue of self-expression where all your pain, loss, and suffering takes written form, and the completed product is one of severity and truth. This tip guide will further assist you in writing poetry about death and grief while mourning.

  1. Take Your Time. The topic of death is a very heavy theme. It requires utmost vulnerability and vitality in language. You may not be ready to immediately approach writing about the recent injury to your soul, and that is perfectly fine. Breathe. We all grieve in our own ways. Take your time to process as you see appropriate. As the poet John Donne wrote, "Death be not proud." Take necessary measures, alone or with others, before attempting to organize your thoughts.
  2. Withhold Nothing. When you are ready to start writing, bring everything to the foreground. Hold nothing back. This step is a great time to go all out in writing what is on your mind. Let it out. It may be hard, but after some time, you will be comfortable with the truths you are putting on paper. Do not be afraid of your emotions or your memories, good or bad. This poem is yours and needs no validation from anyone else. You own yourself, and you own your work. Your words will carry the weight you feel during your time of mourning. Refuse nothing from your pen as it becomes transfixed to your thoughts.
  3. Powerful, Poetic Purpose. What is the purpose of this poem? What are you trying to accomplish or clarify? Are you sharing an anecdote? Saying something specific to the person you've lost? Maybe this is your last goodbye? It is important that you refer to your initial outpouring of words to determine a general theme in your creative output. Observe the underlying messages, as this will help you develop ideas for imagery and format when you write your poem. Consult our Top Poetic Writing Devices Tip Guide for new technique ideas.
  4. Compose Yourself. And Your Poem. Take your revisions and analysis from the earlier stages in your creative process and compose your poem. Consult other Power Poetry resources — like our 5 Poems About Loss Guide — to help with the flow of ideas and provide you with extra inspiration. Reflect on the sentimental value the person had to you. Bring those feelings to your poem. It will add flavor and uniqueness to the poem that will make it forever stand out. This process of writing will further help you work through the mourning process.
  5. Don't be Afraid to Share. Your poetry can help you find the light after the darkness that death and grief bring. Your words also have the power to inspire others to enjoy the beauty of life. Emily Dickinson wrote, "A Death blow is a Life blow to some / Who till they died, did not alive become." Your poem can speak life into someone who may be struggling or help someone live life to the fullest. If you believe your poem is more intimate or suitable for a select audience, feel free to keep that for your own. But if there is room for sharing, use your experiences and strength and give it to the world. You have a community of poets that will benefit from reading your words. Writing about the tragedy will ultimately help you to heal and grow stronger.


Hear more on the topic of death and grief from The Jed Foundation, a trusted partner working to promote mental and emotional health.

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