For times of grief and sorrow, we offer this curated collection of poems as a soulful companion for tending your heart. Each of these poems can help us embrace and make meaning from paradox, inviting us to lean into the great fullness of our emotions with gentleness, compassion, and a sense of belonging.

The poets in this collection help us to understand such things as how the grief we carry can feel like swallowing the density of a neutron star, and the ways that not knowing what others have swallowed inspires tenderness; the complexity of choosing to love life even when it feels out of reach; the moments of hope that coexist directly alongside moments of heartache; the moments of beauty that live within moments of sadness; and how we might meet the idea of impermanence with thanks.

We invite you to carve out some sacred moments to sit with these poems, allowing them to speak to your heart of perspective and possibility. We hope you might find yourself returning to them again and again.

greyscale photo of a woman in a white dress underwater with her back arched towards the surface with rays of sunlight shining down

Watching My Friend Pretend Her Heart Isn’t Breaking
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star
would weigh six billion tons. Six billion tons
equals the collective weight of every animal
on earth. Including the insects. Times three.
Read the full poem

assortment of grey and brown leaves with water droplets on them

The Thing Is
by Ellen Bass
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands…
Read the full poem

robin perched on the branches of a bare tree with no leaves

One Candle Now, Then Seven More
by Brad Aaron Modlin
I grew up in a family that did not tell
the story. I am listening to it now:

Even the morning you see a robin
flattened on the street, you hear…
Read the full poem

Close up of frosted grass and oak leaves

Thank You
by Ross Gay
If you find yourself half naked
and barefoot in the frosty grass, hearing,
again, the earth’s great, sonorous moan that says
you are the air of the now and gone, that says…
Read the full poem

by Mark Nepo
Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.
This is how the heart makes a duet of
wonder and grief. The light spraying
through the lace of the fern is as delicate…
Read the full poem

A late sun casts a pink light over the ocean.

by John O’Donohue
On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble…
Read the full poem

Field of multi-colored wildflowers

by Maya Stein
How to meet the grey turn of the forecast, the stutter of any new uncertainty.
How to tell aloud the thing that broke inside. How to name pain, describe its bones,
its cries in the dark. How to bear the way we bear the hurt. How to stop sitting so still
in the bearing. How to admit how hard it is. How to carry the grudges, the wounds…
Read the full poem

White waterlilies in a pond from above

I Ask My Mother to Sing
by Li-Young Lee
She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.
Read the full poem

Silhouette of man with arms outstretched praising the setting sun (or dawn)

by Angelo Geter
Today I will praise.
I will praise the sun
For showering its light
On this darkened vessel…
Read the full poem

water rushing downward in a blur over rocks covered in fallen leaves

Flood Rain’s Faithful Sister
by Terri Crosby
Rains come, pounding rooftops,
saturating every inch of soil
down to the deep.

Water creeps under floorboards…
Read the full poem

A small, illuminated log cabin in a clearing blanketed in snow and surrounded by snowcapped trees underneath a navy blue starry sky

On Safety
by Nadine Penide
When the storms of life
come bearing down
threatening to
lash you senseless…
Read the full poem

Trail of Tears: Our Removal
by Linda Hogan
With lines unseen the land was broken.
When surveyors came, we knew
what the prophet had said was true,
this land with unseen lines would be taken.
Read the full poem

dew drops sparkling on blades of grass in the morning sun

Instructions for the Journey
by Pat Schneider
The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don’t grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished…
Read the full poem

close up of cream and tan woven thread

A Love Story
by Jeanie Greensfelder
Gather your selves:
critical and kind,
scared and brave,
thoughtless and hurt.
Read the full poem

a wooden sign with the word welcome nestled in flowering foliage

The Guest House
by Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes…
Read the full poem

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Collections Poetry