When Loss is over a hundred
years old: Poems from 1893
Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in my particular grief. There's this feeling that no one can understand unless they, too, have experienced stillbirth with circumstances similar to my experience. There's this feeling that no one on this planet can truly understand my grief process and my consequent drastically altered way of life.
When my moods get so terribly down that all my writings are drivel and it becomes difficult to get out of bed, well, then I read. And sometimes I'm very surprised to find writings like this:
It overwhelms me to think of that. 1893. Grief is a beast that is unconquerable, a land that has no map, and yet it was almost 110 years ago that this man wrote of a grief I totally understand today. He goes on in the poem to explain that he would like to be of some service to the bereaved who are wailing over their dead child, but he is not able to help for he is overwhelmed with his own sadness at not being able to have any children at all. Yet he asks, "May I not weep with you?" and I imagine that he must have. Afterall, this poem is here today, weeping in my lap.
Riley's "Bereaved" poem was published as part of a collection
called "Poems Here At Home,"
Well, he may have felt unable to comfort the bereaved parent because he couldn't even have children, but he certainly knew grief considering the loss of his wife as written here. And I wonder if even a hundred years ago, people were feeling sorry for themselves, comparing grief as if one is better or worse, more or less worthy of comfort and attention. It reminds me that loss is loss is loss. Grief is Grief is Grief.
Sometimes when I get caught up in my particular grief, I just have to get outside myself, read a little, reach back a hundred years to Riley, or just reach over to my own husband to see that we are all capable of knowing grief and giving comfort. We all have the ability to be "Clueful" rather than "Clueless" when it comes to compassion for ourselves and others. But there are days when I have to make the effort to reach out to prevent getting caught up...
Here at Home by James Whitcomb Riley