The death of a classmate can be a traumatic experience for people of any age. Whether you were close friends or distant acquaintances, losing a classmate impacts everyone from the school. Poems can help sum up collective feelings following a death, create a feeling of community, and serve as memorials. The original poems provided are all written by the author, Michele Meleen.
Always With You
Always With You is a re-imagining of Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye and is appropriate for younger children.
Do not stand at my desk and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
I am the laughter filling these halls,
My spirit lingers in these walls.
I am the bell that rings each day,
My memory, a reminder that we still play.
I am the knowledge learned and gained,
A soul continuing each day, unchained.
When you enter school in the morning rush,
I am in the moment; a teacher says, "hush."
Do not loathe these days,
I am never very far away.
Feelings of Loss
Feelings of Loss is intended for young children as it incorporates a simple rhyme scheme reminiscent of childhood songs.
Hush dear friends, don't say a word.
Our classmate is gone and free like a bird.
Free to fly in the heavens above,
As a friend we'll always be thinking of.
He is gone from where we can see,
But in our hearts is where he'll always be.
Memories can never be taken away,
So we'll remember him when we learn and play.
Sadness, anger, and wondering why?
Are feelings that will make us cry.
But, our dear friend will help us grieve
Because his spirit will never leave.
For older kids, namely teens in high school, Spiritual Superlatives combines emotional support with some light humor.
Each year we vote on silly sayings,
Our claim to yearbook fame.
This year there is only one nominee
For every single category.
In your absence we will think of you:
As the Most Popular kid in school,
Because you will be on everyone's minds
As the Most Likely to Succeed,
Because you've touched all our hearts.
As the Most likely to Get Out of Here,
Because you've reached the final destination.
As the Most Spirited,
Because you rest in the spirit world.
When you were here, you had:
The Best Eyes
The Best Smile
The Best Personality
Without you, we will be:
The Most Likely to Miss a Friend
The Biggest Criers
The Most Likely to Feel Sadness
As the school year passes,
We will find some comfort in your memory
Because thoughts of our time together
Are the Best Memories anyone could have.
Adults can use the nostalgic references in School Spirit to help cope with loss by focusing on fond memories.
Inquiring minds once filled these seats,
With a thirst for knowledge,
An attitude of excitement,
And a desire for answers.
Smiling faces once filled these halls,
With a thirst for friendship,
An attitude of confidence
And a desire to enjoy the moment.
Energetic bodies once filled these fields,
With a thirst for competition,
An attitude of confidence,
And a desire to enjoy the moment.
Today, these seats and halls and fields
Are filled with mourning hearts,
An attitude of disbelief,
And a desire for your presence.
Tomorrow this school will be filled with pride.
Pride in having known your:
Thirst for knowledge, competition, and friendship,
Attitude of excitement, teamwork, and confidence,
And we'll be left with a desire
To enjoy the moments you were here.
These seats and halls and fields
Will always be filled with school pride;
A pride infused with the spirit of you.
Where to Share
Death of a classmate poems can be used in a variety of instances.
- Yearbook dedication or memorial page
- Memorial plaque
- Class reunion memorial display
- Funeral reading
- On memorial apparel or gifts, such as candles and t-shirts
- As a handout to help students deal with grief
Where to Find Poems
Poems specific to the death of a classmate can be difficult to find. However, there are some great options out there for young children and adults.
- An Empty Chair by Jill Eisnaugle is popular for adults and is written to be used at a class reunion, but can be appropriate for other occasions.
- Goodbye Poem by Donna Coleman is meant for the end of a school year, but could be used for very young children as a means to cope with the death of a classmate because it incorporates pictures with familiar ways of saying "goodbye."
The relationship each person has with a classmate will be varied, so general poems about death are appropriate to use in the case of a classmate's death because they account for these relationship variances.
Writing or reading poetry about the feelings associated with death can be helpful in the grieving process. Children and adults may have to deal with the death of a classmate and occasion-specific poems can help everyone cope.