Poetry For Grief - In The Silence Of Friends

Posted at 17:39pm on 25th November 2008

Not everyone experiences the five stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance; and even if they do, they may find that they occur in a different order. But frequently, at just the point when we most need them, our friends seem to melt away. They have supported us in the early days with admirable concern. But now we wonder, have they tired of the misery that surrounds us, and engulfs all who draw near? Or have they calculated the time for grieving and decided that it has now reached its full measure?


It is at this time that a spiritual emptiness may creep in; a feeling of desolation. And it is for just such a time that poetry for grieving comes into its own. What better to assuage our sense of loss than in the mystical beauty of a well crafted poem? Carved from the heart of the poet, it floods the arid desert plains of our soul, with the sweet promise of relief.


This need to know we are not alone, that others have trod this path before us – and still do – is beautifully portrayed in the following poem, written by Jane Warland and posted in 1996 on the Google alt.support.grief group for the comfort and support of all who read it. As the poet says it all, I’ll say no more. I leave you in the hope that you will know that you are not alone; that others do care, and still others pray. In the hope that you will experience their love. And their persistence.

You Can't Win With Me


by Jane Warland 1996

If you say to me,"How are you doing?"
with such sympathy and meaning in your voice
I reply,"I'm fine," and brush you off,
because to talk about my loss with you
is just too painful.
If you see me
and don't mention
the loss that is consuming my thoughts,
I think you don't care enough,
or are too scared to mention it
for fear that you might upset me.
You can't win with me.
If you say,"I'm sorry your baby died,"
it is hard for me to reply to that.
What do you expect me to say?
I want to say,"I'm sorry too!"
or "It's Awful!"
I want to scream,"It's not fair!!"
But I won't
because I don't want to upset myself today,
not in front of you.
So I reply, "Thank you."
That thanks means so much more than that.
It means thanks for caring,
thanks for trying to help,
thanks for realizing that I'm still in pain.
If you don't know what to say to me
that's okay
because I don't know what to say
to you either.
If you see me smile or laugh
don't assume I must have
forgotten my baby for the moment,
I haven't,
I can't,
I never will.
Tell me that I look good today.
I will know what you mean.
I'm getting good at picking up
unspoken cues from you.
If you see me and think I look upset or sad,
you are probably right.
Today might be an anniversary day for me,
or some event might have triggered
a wave of grief in me.
If you don't say anything
I'll think you don't care about me,
but if you do say something,
it might make me feel worse.
You could try asking if I want to talk,
but don't be surprised if I say no.
You can't win with me.
Don't give up on me,
please don't give up.
I need your attempts however feeble,
however trite you might feel they are.
I need your thoughts.
I need your prayers.
I need your love.
I need your persistence.
I need all that
but most of all
I need to be treated normally,
like it used to be
before all of this happened.
But I know it's impossible.
That carefree, naive person
is gone forever,
and I am mourning that loss too.
So you can't win with me.

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