The Shape You Left in Us
The Message of the Early Days

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”—William Shakespeare, Macbeth

It’s been hard to write in this space this week as everything is so politically charged. I have deep convictions when it comes to this sort of thing, but I’m trying to keep this space “on-message”—whatever that means. So..for lack of anything else relevant to say, here are some writings that have come out of my Grief Group this week. I hope that these will resonate with people going through any type of loss themselves. Wikipedia says: “Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and philosophical dimensions.” In  other words, “grief is the price we pay for love.”

We were challenged in our group to make a “found poem” from a collection of highlighted words that caught the eye off a Sunday paper. I finally got around to this assignment earlier today, though its been weeks since it was given. Fortunately I got my hands on the “Books” section of the LA Times. I wasn’t convinced there would be much to this activity, but once I got started, it spoke to me.

Which way would you go—

The future or the past?


Midway through history…

Dazzling, dizzying,

Freshly obsessed with thoughts of the future.

You struggled with three dimensions—

A fourth dimension dawned!


Is the future predetermined?

What of the eternal, the spiritual?

Pure thought can only take us so far.


And then there was today’s prompt, based on a poem by John O’Donohue. (He’s visited these pages before.) This is what I wrote:
Sorrow slithers as a blanket of mist which
layers itself through the village.
Almost visible, caught in car-lights and windows—
Shrouding everything else from view—
until you notice what you almost bumped into.
Be careful, if you must go out in it at all.

It may help to watch from inside the window,
To make hot chocolate and wear pajamas,
Turn on the fires of comfort, make a lovely stew.
Being safe inside, but knowing what’s out there
gives you space to feel cozy.
A new kind of privilege.

Outside in the fog, you might lose your way,
unable to see the future—just a few steps ahead.
Accidents can happen, stay vigilant as you go!
It’s dangerous out there in sorrow.
Oh to be ambushed by grief,
Thrown onto the black tide of loss.

But to go out into the village, I must.
I can’t bear to stay here forever
withering away in my own mind.
My bones need movement…
My lungs, fresh air. After all…
I have miles—MILES!— to go before I sleep.


Now because I don’t have anything to illustrate these with, here is a picture from the beach today. A hot November—as if things couldn’t get more surreal.




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The Shape You Left in Us
The Message of the Early Days