Grief Poem

Poems are like children. We create them and they feel very personal to us, but then they travel outward, interact with others, and take on a life of their own. My brother died in 1997 at the age of 38. I wrote a poem about my own grieving process and sent it to a few friends who had also suffered losses. They sent it around and, to my surprise, it started to travel around the Internet a little. I have received some very touching emails from people telling me the poem gave them some peace after the loss of a loved one. There is no greater feeling than that - knowing that some little words I wrote in my hour of darkness helped someone else find some comfort in theirs. I hope it helps you, too.

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I am glad there are others in this world who have the talent of being able to put emotions into words. Thank you for sharing your talent. I was grabbed at the expression of sudden horror. I …

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© Mark Rickerby visit Mark Rickerby's site

Published: Aug 2008

How We Survive

If we are fortunate,
we are given a warning.

If not,
there is only the sudden horror,
the wrench of being torn apart;
of being reminded
that nothing is permanent,
not even the ones we love,
the ones our lives revolve around.

Life is a fragile affair.
We are all dancing
on the edge of a precipice,
a dizzying cliff so high
we can't see the bottom.

One by one,
we lose those we love most
into the dark ravine.

So we must cherish them
without reservation.
Now.
Today.
This minute.
We will lose them
or they will lose us
someday.
This is certain.
There is no time for bickering.
And their loss
will leave a great pit in our hearts;
a pit we struggle to avoid
during the day
and fall into at night.

Some,
unable to accept this loss,
unable to determine
the worth of life without them,
jump into that black pit
spiritually or physically,
hoping to find them there.

And some survive
the shock,
the denial,
the horror,
the bargaining,
the barren, empty aching,
the unanswered prayers,
the sleepless nights
when their breath is crushed
under the weight of silence
and all that it means.

Somehow, some survive all that and,
like a flower opening after a storm,
they slowly begin to remember
the one they lost
in a different way...

The laughter,
the irrepressible spirit,
the generous heart,
the way their smile made them feel,
the encouragement they gave
even as their own dreams were dying.

And in time, they fill the pit
with other memories
the only memories that really matter.

We will still cry.
We will always cry.
But with loving reflection
more than hopeless longing.

And that is how we survive.
That is how the story should end.
That is how they would want it to be.

Mark is a writer and singer living in Southern California. His latest project is a CD of 15 original songs celebrating children and parenting. Lyrics, melodies and vocals are by Mark Rickerby. Musical arrangements and performance are by Grammy-nominated composer, Rick Balentine. The release date is 2/1/11. You can pre-order a copy at markrickerbymusic.com

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Has this poem touched you? Share Your Story
  • by Jean, New Mexico
  • 3/24/2014

I am glad there are others in this world who have the talent of being able to put emotions into words. Thank you for sharing your talent. I was grabbed at the expression of sudden horror. I hadn't been able to find the words to express my feelings when I received the call my brother had passed. May God bless you. Jeanie

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  • by New York, Donna
  • Jul 2012

A few people have died over the course of a couple of weeks and many over the past five years. I want to say I'm blessed that those close to me are still alive. But this poem made me realize how lucky I am. May God continue to bless me and others!

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  • by Jared
  • Apr 2012

This represents exactly how I feel. 3 weeks ago, my girlfriend of 3 years, took her own life, her dad broke us up about 8 months ago, and I have yet to find something that explains how I feel, and this has, thank you for the hope given.

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  • by United Kingdom
  • Jan 2012

You gave me hope that this deep pain and sadness after my mom's unexpected death will eventually pass. For now...it only hurts so much!

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  • by Carol
  • Jan 2012

I lost my nephew aged 32 and great nephew aged 2 in a horrific car crash 3 years ago and it was the most painful loss our family had ever had. This poem has uplifted me and I am saving it to draw strength from on those still very painful days! Thank you

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  • by Alabama
  • Dec 2011

I lost 2 brothers years apart. My closest brother only 17 was and still is the hardest to accept, even have my grandsons named after my brothers, maybe I cannot accept because I never got to see them. I was 16 when my brother died and now 49 and still miss him everyday and still feel the pain and wish he was still here.

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  • by Morgan, Ohio
  • May 2011

This Poem helped me, My mom && dad one night were fighting because dad had to work a late shift at the hospital and mom was cheating, he walked in. Shot my mom, the guy she was cheating on with him, and himself, I was up in my room, I was stunned. I couldn't move. my eyes filled with tears when I heard the bodies fall to the ground.. I walked down the stairs, and saw. Called 911 and laid over my moms body.

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  • by Javana Jackson
  • Mar 2011

this poem really touched me. I think that I've been holding back to be strong for my sister, but this poem helped me realize I have to let it out finally and let it become reality. my sisters daughter committed suicide and it devastated so many. and since it's happened I don't think I ever really accepted or believed it really happened. But now I know I need to just remember all of the great things she did and how she made everyone feel so happy and make everyone laugh all of the time. she's so special.

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  • by 4everloving
  • Mar 2011

I loved your poem. it touched me so much because it reminded me when my family talks about my grandpa, who died before I was born. You are talented. Keep it up.

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  • by Ashley
  • Mar 2011

I lost my best friend a year ago today...he wasn't just my friend he was my brother. he was in a very terrible accident on his way home from work at 5 in the morning and he was rushed to the hospital where he was revived for a few minutes but just crashed again...he was pronounced dead less than an hour after the crash. I would do anything to be able to see my brother again. I haven't been able to see anything to make me feel better about this but your poem touched me and made me cry. I am 17 years old and maybe I can finally start to move on...no one knows the pain until they experience it themselves and you have...thank you so much.

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  • by Leann, Howe, Okllahoma
  • Mar 2011

I love the poem. I lost my grandma and grandpa about 9 to 8 years ago and I still see all the pain I went through then and am still going through but I still cry at night for them. Now I can look back and see all the fun and happiness we shared. so thank you. keep up the good work. your poem helped

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  • by Elaine Louch
  • Mar 2011

Very few poems touch me the way this one has. You have managed to put into words the grieving process I went through when I lost my parents...most of all you have shown that there is a light at the end of the darkness.
Thank-you

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  • by Debi, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Mar 2011

This poem most certainly touched me. Although I am not out of the pits of despair, I hold hope that I will remember all the memories I hold dear to my heart. My son, 25 years old, appeared healthy, passed away suddenly on Dec. 7th, 2010. He was a good kid, had a good head on his shoulders. No drugs, no alcohol, no tobacco. Had a bad boy image with a good boy life. How does that happen. Sudden Cardiac Death... Here in the US they don't screen the heart in spite of required physicals for sports and jobs! My heart is broken like pieces shattered on the floor. Beautiful poem.

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  • by R Siota
  • Jun 2010

I lost my dad recently and your poem has touched my heart, it's beautiful.

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  • by Margret, South-Western UK
  • Nov 2009

This touched me a few days ago, when I remembered the death of my father two years ago.
We are four children and we took the death of Papa four different ways and my mother took it different again.
Our black hole was made less black by the fact that we could come together.
But thank you for sharing these feelings!

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  • by catherine tracey
  • Oct 2009

One of my very close friends Anita died in a head on collision and your poem really helped me and my friends,
Thank You

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  • by carmen
  • Jan 2009

beautiful poem my sister lost her oldest son on 12/21/2008 and as I read this poem it reminded me of her and made me cry

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  • by George
  • Nov 2008

I had to do a memorial tribute to men who had died in my church during the past year. I read this poem, and knew that this would be a perfect piece to read during the service. Mark, after I read the poem I'm going to publicly acknowledge both you and this wonderful website

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  • by Ariana
  • Nov 2008

that really touched me I loved that poem it made me cry you r a very talented person cherish it!

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  • by Louise
  • Nov 2008

I lost my daughter in 1995 and this is exactly what I went through. It's almost as if you were there with me. Only someone who has experienced this darkness thoroughly could have written such a poem. Thank you for describing so vividly how you found your way to wholeness again so that others might as well. Bless you, Mark.

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