Friday, December 19, 2014

Poetry Friday: Grief

I can't stop thinking about those parents in Pakistan who are burying their children this week.  And of the parents from Newtown, whose terrible anniversary rolled around last week.  And of parents around the world who are grieving the loss of a child, including some whom I know.  Kay Warren, whose son committed suicide last year, published an article this month about how the cards and letters so many people send this time of year, with photos of their perfect families, cause extra pain. 

Shakespeare, who himself lost an eleven year old son, writes about loss in the play King John.  This speech comes from Constance:

Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?
Fare you well: had you such a loss as I,
I could give better comfort than you do.
I will not keep this form upon my head,
When there is such disorder in my wit.
O Lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son!
My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!
My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure!

I read a news story in which one of the women in Peshawar spoke of her son getting up and getting ready to go to school to take his exams - and then not coming home.  She mentioned that her husband had already died.  And now her "widow-comfort," taken too. 

It is no comfort that this pain crosses boundaries of time, nation, religion - but how is it that we never learn, and that losses that we human beings could prevent continue to happen?  They happen, and then all we can do is try to give "better comfort."

Buffy, who is hosting this week's roundup, is focusing on light in darkness.  I'm afraid I've added more to the darkness than to the light with this week's contribution, but go and read what other people have shared, and I'm sure you will find something more festive!


Buffy Silverman said...

Many years ago when we lost a child I found myself reading one novel after another in which a child died. Reading of loss was an important part of that journey--so I would say that you are not adding to darkness, but connecting with others. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and these lines from King John.

jama said...

The tragedies you mention are unspeakable, yet we need not only to speak of them but to question and discuss and mourn and try to grasp how human beings can be capable of such atrocities. Sharing your feelings and connecting with others are both important, as Buffy said.

Liz Steinglass said...

I have been thinking so much of these parents also. I cannot even begin to imagine. These words from King John give a little sense.

Tabatha said...

Kay Warren's article was thought-provoking for me. I'll keep thinking about that.
Are you familiar with "When David Heard" by Eric Whitacre? I heard it in person and it was intense.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I feel like I can barely look upon it all--but I can read your words and Shakespeare's, and remember to be constant in love and empathy. Thanks for bringing me to these vines of darkness...

Jennifer Ward said...

Those lines...oh, those lines.

Thank you so much for sharing Shakespeare today. These were the words that I needed at the time I needed them. Poetry has the power to touch us deeply, to put words to the incomprehensible, the unbelievable, to connect us when we most need connection.

Becky Shillington said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Ruth, and also for the link to Kay Warren's post. Acknowledging grief in the midst of this busy season is necessary and important.

Mary Lee said...

Yes, this is more darkness, but it reminds us why we need light more than ever...