During the process of grieving, others often grow weary of your sadness and tears. They want you to stop grieving, "get over it" and get on with life. They no longer want to listen to you talk about your loss and pain. It's just not that easy. Grieving is an individual journey and has no "correct" time schedule. Some days will feel better than others. Being a member of a group is helpful because you are with others who truly understand what you are going through. Together you learn to be patient with the grief process, the sadness and the tears.
Writing can also be such an important part of your healing. Whether you write poetry, memories and stories, write letters to your deceased spouse or keep a journal, the process gives you a private place to express your feelings, to grieve and to heal. It doesn't have to be perfect and it never needs to be shared. It helps to have a place to bring your grief outside of you so that the feelings can be expressed and eventually released.
The following creative pieces have generously been contributed by individuals who have gone through the H.O.P.E. program. Their courage in expressing their feelings and thoughts with you is indeed honored, respected and appreciated. May their journey through writing bring you some comfort, some insight and some encouragement to find your way on your difficult journey. You are not alone. You will get through. - Dr. Jo Christner
Now it's year three.
You finally you get it.
Life becomes better
If you simply let it.
Things are still different
And always will be,
But you're no longer saying,
Why me? Why me?
And with all your new friends,
Things to do on weekends.
You've reached year four.
You're accomplishing more.
And you've laughed
And you've learned
Not to be so concerned
When the phone
Doesn't ring quite as much.
You can go it alone,
But you must stay in touch.
The day arrived as a liberating foce and
new avenues of expression opened for us as
if my magic
A fertile period of self contained
journeys and prophetic dreaing, it
brought a calm to our inner spirits
In this house of enlightenment personal
renewal is guananteed, magnanimous and
volatile, an invigorating rush surges thru
this house and new beginnings take hold
This new understanding is forged in a
pre-existing bond of past and present, while
penchant for the original and innovative
remains, and once again rises to the surface
This house, full of hope, ruler of our emotions
affords each of us a personal and panoramic
view of life
We entered this journey filled with
introspection rich in its design and crafted
solely by its owner
Now as we move on in this house of endearment
filled with the riches of acceptance, and hope, we
leave behind the vision and dreams we each embrace
one to the other
By Helene Kaminsky
22 Months of Mourning
Member of the Bereavement Group
EVERY DAY I THROW AWAY SOMETHING
Every day I throw away something
that belonged to you, the house
grows bigger, it inflates like the inside of a balloon,
grows hollow without you.
Where will it end, this expansion, and where will I rest within it,
and where will I lay my shoes?
By Florence Weinberger
From her book "Carnal Fragrance"
I'm alone. I see no crowd of people with strange faces and strange clothing.
Nobody is hurrying to someplace, anyplace with strangling agendas in their hands.
Agendas of need, agendas of promise, agendas of demand - this day, this time, this deed!
I have no agenda.
I have no plan.
There is no rescue in staying alone.
There is no rescue in a crowd.
There is no rescue in an agenda.
There is no street to walk, no hill to climb.
The future is flat.
The sun has set but there is light, from nowhere, from everywhere.
There is no night sky, so stars to guide me, and reassure me of a tomorrow.
The trees stand upright, leafless and branches straight out, pointing in all directions, any direction.
Some branches lie on the ground, broken by the simple weight of the birds.
There are birds, some here, some there, swinging in wide, pointless circles.
As I watch, one leaves, another leaves, the circle gets wider and I see it no more.
I look for my footprints.
Have I been here, have I been there? I have been everywhere and now, I am here, nowhere.
I need a circle. I need to find a place to start, a place to end, a statement that there is a center.
I need a beginning to search for the end.
I have a question, who will answer me?
Now, I speak aloud and there is no echo. I yell, I shout and the air is scarcely ruffled.
I whisper silently, and my ears ache with the sounds of prayer spinning in my head.
I feel a presence, a need greater than my own.
Have I found an end or a beginning?
Am I now a circle; is there a direction I can find?
I look up and there, where there was no horizon, I see a darkness rise as if a hand was slowly making the light change to softness with a promise of stars, of a moon, of peace for me in a place.
Slowly, I look down and I see, faintly, the beginning of a footprint. Mine.
And then another and another and then, a cirlce grows and I am the circle and I find a beginning and an end.
I no longer hear the silent prayers in my head and there, on that tree, I see a bird sitting on a branch and the branch doesn't break.
By Marvin Arnold Landow
All rights reserved
Slivers of daylight creep silently through the edge of the curtain announcing a new day.
Another, another, another day is here, day is here, day is here.
Like echoes they stumble over each other in a slow, steady rhythm.
No chance to savor today.
Unopened newspapers lie in testament.
I am left with only yesterdays that nudge me to remember.
By Florence Kolber
THE RETURN IN CUSTOMER SERVICE
Excuse me, may I make an exchange?
This life that has been chosen for me just doesn't fit.
The old one was O.K.
It just disappeared one day.
I'm not sure that an alteration would help.
What was wrong with the one I had?
Someone went and changed the styles when I wasn't paying attention.
Nothing fits anymore.
Pardon me while I go out and look for a new one.
Just tell me where to begin.
By Florence Kolber
I BEGAN WITH FRAYED SWEATERS
I began with frayed sweaters, then the stained shirts,
dated jackets--it seemed easy,
as if I had grabbed the right thread
for the quick unraveling.
The second stage,
when each garment got weighed
before it was folded and packed to be given away,
should have foretold
the final phase. What was it
about the finer fabrics, the camel hair jacket,
the tweed, the raw silk, the slim leather boots
hardly worn, that made it so hard to discard them?
Plenty and deprivation lay side by side.
He held fast to everything, wore some clothes
threadbare, saved the favorites
by scant use, leaving them less bent to his shape.
I could give up at last what most reminded me
of him, but couldn’t bear to lose
the good suits he never wore. Yet they fit
no one I knew, no friend, no family member,
as if they waited only his return
and if he came back, they’d urge him
to put them on, enjoy the wanton pleasure
of their feel against his skin,
teach him what he could not learn before.
By Florence Weinberger
Ah, the Islands! Balmy breezes are wafting over my suntanned body. I lie on a chaise lounge. In my hand there is a cocktail that I lift toward my lips. I sip slowly letting the cool juices sensuously permeate my being. I take in the spectacular cliffs and waterfalls set against the backdrop of breathtaking tropical mountains and panoramic ocean views. I conjure up this idyllic scene while I sit at my desk at work. I am drowning in a sea of paperwork. A vacation in Hawaii with my wife will provide the respite, the needed fun and relaxation. I will return refreshed and ready to dive into whatever waves that are seeking to engulf me. That was what I thought back then and so it came to pass that a week under the Maui sun was the life preserver that did the trick. But that was many years ago.
My life situation has since changed. I am now a retired widower, a Columbus at sea in a world gone flat looking for new routes with which to make life meaningful again. I want the islands to which I travel to nourish me intellectually, creatively and emotionally. The journey, thus far, has been eased by the love of devoted family and friends. But it has not been fully satisfying.
In the wake of my wife's death, I joined with a group of other broken individuals in similar circumstances. Together we searched the terrain of an island heretofore unknown to any of us. At the beginning of our trip we were travelers without the resources to cope with the stretches of arid wasteland that our lives had become. Little by little, though, buoyed by the commonality of our experience and navigated by professional guides we were able to overcome much of the rough landscape and emerge, if not completely whole, with the ability to journey elsewhere.
I think of each new encounter as an island. I sometimes believe that I am holding on precariously to a life raft which is being tossed about in tumultuous waters and only dry land will save me. Yet I am afraid of what I will find once I reach shore. Most often, however, I calmly drift from one destination to another stepping out onto the warm sands eager though tentative as I begin each new adventure. The result has been the discovery that in meeting new people I am not the only stranger in a strange land.
The islands I have drifted to are a monthly writing group with a group of women who have nurtured this one lone male and have often served as a support group as we talk about our families and our lives. I have also joined a weekly memoir writing group and have voyaged into my past tapping memories that have long been submerged. The weekly short story discussion class I attend has opened up a new genre of literature which I avoided in the past. I enjoy the give and take as we agree or differ in our views as to the inherent meaning of each work we discuss. The same goes for the book discussion group I look forward to each month. And then there is the play-reading group I go to each week. Here I am able to stretch those acting muscles I have always secretly (or maybe not so secretly) wanted to use. Islands!
The islands as metaphor seem to me perfect for my present life. They are disconnected stretches of land where I hunger to take root and flower. But each of them is only a new foothold I am clinging to. When it comes down to it these separated parcels of land do not afford me the cohesion I am seeking. The people I have met have been the most satisfying part of these trips I have taken. By sharing our backgrounds, emotions and ideas I have been able to mitigate some of the sense of loss I feel. I know that there is a vast world out there that I still need to explore. But the waters are deep and I often find excuses not to wade too far from the shore. Perhaps with time and experience I won't feel so fearful. Hopefully there will come a point when my feet will find solid ground wherever life takes me and the islands will again become places primarily for rest and relaxation.
By Mel Stowsky
or just a moment
the answers do not come easily
the questions continue and contine.
there is a world out there
But do you want it?
Time will tell.
Maybe then you'll know
if it is
or just a moment.
People, not love, die
They march through the brain
like so many little soldiers
some bring smiles
Learn to tie them up in the
caves and tunnels of your mind
Put them away like love letters of yore
held together with ribbons.
Bring them out on special occasions
to taste and savor for those
precious moments - and then
let them sleep.
Learn to make new memories
and gather pretty ribbons to hold them together.
BAND OF STRANGERS
We were a band of strangers
lost and all alone
through tragedy we've made
we're friends who have a home
We gather together now
as friends from long ago
we share each other's
lives and hearts
who would have wished it so?
We never knew when we first met
that we would feel so close
to ones, from other walks of life
until the need arose
Through sharing all our grief and pain
we grew a bond of love
no one outside could comprehend
only our God above
They say " they know how we must feel"
but truth be known, they can't
only our band of strangers
are privy to this Elephant
That weighs so heavy on our chests
we can barely breathe
we have to share it in our group
and then we get relief
To all the bands of mourners
who have learned to love in group
we are no longer all alone
we are a happy troup.
By Ruthe Berkus