Ah, Grief…

I shared the poem below several years ago when my angle on grief was different. But I think of the metaphor often these days, because the grief I know is a thing in itself, a changeable being that has to be reckoned with.

Last week I saw its resemblance to an illness of the body, which in fact it is in part. A malaise or pain that comes and goes, and when it goes you forget that the underlying problem still exists. Then you get ambushed. Here the metaphor of the poem doesn’t sync with my own; maybe if I become more hospitable to my grief it will become the sort of companion the poet is hoping for, not a thing waiting in ambush, but a faithful-friend kind of creature that can even “warn off intruders.”

I think this is christ good shepherd lghappening. I see that not only am I on the path to acceptance, of the loss of my husband and of my new life, but that one stage of the journey is the acceptance of the grief process itself, and of its demands. A canine in the corner aptly describes something I would not naturally welcome.

Yesterday was rich and full of encouragement — several times because of my pangs of grief — including this meaningful note from Mrs. Bread after Little Goldfinch revived and flew away: “We all need quiet to regain our senses.” She knew I was having that healing kind of day. My dog (see poem) seemed to rest relatively content in his corner. As I wrote in the original posting:

May all our hurts bring us to Him, and may we experience the comfort St. Paul writes about in II Corinthians:

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

TALKING TO GRIEF

Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.

I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.

You think I don’t know you’ve been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your name,
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
to consider
my house as your own
and me your person
and yourself
my own dog.

~ Denise Levertov

 

6 thoughts on “Ah, Grief…

  1. That’s an incredible poem. I find encouragement in your words. Healing days for me often involve a lot of quiet, a bath and alone time. Today was such a day! Whew, I needed it badly. God bless you. Thank you again for posting this. I keep thinking that I would love to have your posts on loss and grief all bundled up for me to use when I am in this space that we all come to in life.

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  2. These days, I no longer experience grief. I remember it, but for the most part it is a strangely bloodless remembrance: once, I felt grief. Now, I do not.

    But Levertov’s poem made grief real again, and left me breathless. It isn’t grief over this, or that, but simply the sharp, knife-edge of pain that comes, and then goes. It’s good to remember it, for it surely will come again.

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  3. Oh this is a beautiful poem. It is really encouraging too. I must remember this because I do think it would be a comfort to read this at times of grief.
    Blessings to you. xx

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