Grief Poem

Comfort After Loss Of A Loved One

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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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...

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How We Survive

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Published: August 2008

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.

more by Mark Rickerby

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Has this poem touched you? Share your story!
  • Ava L. Fedoruk by Ava L. Fedoruk
  • 3 weeks ago

My great-uncle was recently diagnosed with cancer and will be sent to hospice this week. He is expected to die this month. His tumor was in his lungs but spread to his brain, and therefore he hallucinates. Whenever we tell him that he has cancer, he always forgets and we have to tell him again. It is more heartbreaking each time. My poor great-aunt cried when her sister had to go home. She said "Please, stay with me! I can't do this on my own," and started weeping. I don't know what I should do.

  • Shani by Shani
  • 3 months ago

I lost my Mom years back. She left us thinking about her kids (myself and my brother). I had to call her every other time to pray for me when I wanted her blessings. Now I just need to think of her when I am at despair. It was an unexpected demise, but that did make me stronger, for I always have a thought that she is around me. Your poem did speak the reality.

  • Karen by Karen
  • 10 months ago

Eight years ago I lost my fiancée suddenly at 48 years old. Today, I opened some old computer files and found your poem I saved 3 years ago. This poem is so real and vivid it brought me right back to the feelings I had in my early days of grief. I felt those feelings again today. The tears came, and I was sobbing as I read your poem. Thank you for putting in writing how I've felt and how, even though it's 8 years later, I sometimes still feel.

  • Patti Goff by Patti Goff
  • 1 year ago

This poem brought home a whole lifetime of loss for me. Some of those deaths were expected and some surely were a horror to deal with. They were significant losses in my life. Raising three children after their father committed suicide was hard. I was trying to deal with their grief and trying to give myself time to grieve my husband. I also lost my grandma and my cousin (who was my best friend). I then had to help my aunt and uncle take care of her two boys who miraculously survived many broken bones. Then I lost my dad and aunt who were my support system when my mother would lie about me and turn my children away from me and then pretend I was crazy. I'm glad I have been in counseling learning how to stand up for myself because the last three months I have buried most of my childhood friends. The last person I lost was my brother-in-law.

  • Jean by Jean, New Mexico
  • 5 years ago

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

  • New York by New York, Donna
  • 6 years ago

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!

  • Jared by Jared
  • 7 years ago

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.

  • United Kingdom by United Kingdom
  • 7 years ago

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!

  • Carol by Carol
  • 7 years ago

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

  • Alabama by Alabama
  • 7 years ago

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.

  • Morgan by Morgan, Ohio
  • 8 years ago

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.

  • Javana Jackson by Javana Jackson
  • 8 years ago

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.

  • 4everloving by 4everloving
  • 8 years ago

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.

  • Ashley by Ashley
  • 8 years ago

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.

  • Leann by Leann, Howe Oklahoma
  • 8 years ago

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

  • Elaine Louch by Elaine Louch
  • 8 years ago

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

  • Debi by Debi, Madison
  • 8 years ago

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.

  • R Siota by R Siota
  • 9 years ago

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

  • Margret by Margret, South-Western UK
  • 9 years ago

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!

  • catherine tracey by catherine tracey
  • 9 years ago

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

  • carmen by carmen
  • 10 years ago

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

  • George by George
  • 10 years ago

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

  • Ariana by Ariana
  • 10 years ago

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

  • Louise by Louise
  • 10 years ago

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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