Lover's Key, Florida

Lover's Key, Florida

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On Poetry and Grief

Shortly after Gwen's death a friend sent me an article entitled "To overcome grief after a loss, try to love" written by Fr. Ron Rolheiser. In the article the question is raised concerning what we can say in the face of a deep loss and the attendant inconsolable grief. (I think I've gotten past the inconsolable loss phase, but there are still the moments when waves of grief overwhelm me.) The author of the article posed the question to renowned psychologist,Antoine Vergote, his answer was cautious, words to this effect: "When someone is grieving a deep loss, there is a period of time when psychology finds itself rather helpless. The pain of a death. . . .can trigger a paralysis that is not easy to reach into and dissolve. Psychology admits to limits here. Sometimes I think the poets and novelists are of more use in this than is pyschology. But, even there, they can offers some insight but I am not sure anyone can dc muchto take away the pain. There are some things in life befrore which we simply stand helpless." A psychologist whom I have been seeing put this more simply when he said, "When the grief has you on your knees, there's only one thing to do and that is to find a way to stand up."

Sometimes words come to me, and I write them down in the form of a poem. I have found that happening much more frequently since the death of my perfect partner. I intend to share some of these poems in this blog, but today I offer a poem sent to me by a friend, Fr. Dennis Dillon.


Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief

turning down to its black water
to the place that we cannot breathe

will never know
the source from which we drink
the secret water cold and clear

nor find in the darkness
the small gold coins
thrown by those who wished for something else

~ David Whyte ~

I have tasted a little of the secret water and have found a few small gold coins, but much remains to be discovered in my well of grief.


Andy said...

You are amazing big brother. Keep it up.

Susie Hemingway said...

Lovely blog here. I am a poet from England and I have just lost my husband (November) from Multiple Myeloma and I also nursed him for a long time. I chronicled his journey in the form of poems over at and I am still writing 'poem of love' on which seem to help me a lot. I wish you well with your recovery. Keep up the good writing and all best wishes.