After Loss, Turning To Poetry For Grief And Healing
Grief Is Lonely and Isolating
“Even If we’re apart.
I’ll always be with you.”
– Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne
As we walk through loss, it can feel like we are making a solo journey through the desert with our feet sinking heavily into the sand as the sun burns hot on our shoulders, and every dry breath slowly suffocates us. Poetry has the ability to capture the heaviest emotions as they occur in the moment. Reading about others’ experiences with grief and loss connects us with universal suffering helping to ease feelings of loneliness and isolation.
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Poems Encapsulate Human Vulnerability
“Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.”
– Pablo Neruda, 1904-1973
Poems encapsulate human vulnerability; they are courage in written form. A poem’s ability to explain an emotion can help us get in touch with our own deepest, most painful feelings. An awareness of our pain can be therapeutic since it requires us to process through our suffering rather than try to escape it. When we view pain as a measure of love, it can change our perspective on loss. A wise friend of mine explained the intensity of our pain is a direct reflection of the love we felt for the person we lost. Thus, poems of loss are really love letters.
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Poems Help Strengthen Our Resolve
“A million times I’ve needed you
A million times I’ve cried
If love alone could have saved you
You never would have died.”
– Author Unknown
During the most difficult times in my life, I’ve turned to the written word to ease my pain. Reading other people’s reflections in the form of poetry has the ability to strengthen our resolve and shore up our resilience. It helps provide a spiritual backbone that is necessary if we are going to withstand loss with grace.
When Grief Overwhelms You, Try Reading Poetry
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
– Dylan Thomas, 1914-1953
The Art of Losing – Poems of Grief and Healing edited by Kevin Young, is an anthology dedicated to exploring the emotions of loss. Divided into six sections called Reckoning, Regret, Remembrance, Ritual, Recovery, and Redemption, the book includes both classic and modern day poems. It is recommended for people who are experiencing grief and those who care for them such as therapists, clergy, and individuals who provide palliative care.
Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Poetry can help connect us with our stories, so that they can be released along with our pain.
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