everyday inspiration

“Before You Heal, You Have to Mourn”

I’ve previously written about grief, and I’ve previously written about my newfound love of NPR. Here, the two collide.

It’s been about 8 months since my dad has passed away. This week there was something in the air. I was overly emotional about everything. I thought I might explode with tears and emotion at any second. My grief came barreling back in to my life, shocking me so much it nearly knocked me off my feet.

But then Friday, a few things happened. Sometimes you hear or see or read things that just grab you, speak to your soul – one of which lately has been Carry On, Warrior that I’ve blogged about multiple times, but Friday it was a segment on NPR.

The segment was called, “A Poet on Losing His Son: ‘Before You Heal, You Have to Mourn.'” You can listen to the full 7-minute segment here (or read the transcript). Below I share some of my favorite parts of the interview, words I can relate to so well.

I don’t like the whole language of healing, which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America, everyone begins talking about healing. But before you heal, you have to mourn. And I found that poetry doesn’t shield you from grief, but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it, seemed like something I could do. And it gave me something to do with my grief.

There is no right way to grieve, and you have to let people grieve in the way that they can. One of the things that happens to everyone who is grief-stricken, who has lost someone, is there comes a time when everyone else just wants you to get over it, but of course you don’t get over it. You get stronger; you try and live on; you endure; you change; but you don’t get over it. You carry it with you.

Excerpt from Gabriel – Edward Hirsch’s book

I did not know the work of mourning
Is like carrying a bag of cement
Up a mountain at night

The mountaintop is not in sight
Because there is no mountaintop
Poor Sisyphus grief

I did not know I would struggle
Through a ragged underbrush
Without an upward path

Because there is no path
There is only a blunt rock
With a river to fall into

And Time with its medieval chambers
Time with its jagged edges
And blunt instruments

I did not know the work of mourning
Is a labor in the dark
We carry inside ourselves

I’ve never been big into poetry, but I thought this was so beautiful and raw and emotional. You might think this would make me feel more grief-stricken, but it’s more so comforting. It’s always encouraging to hear others who seem to understand exactly what you’re feeling and can put it into words better than you can. I’m not alone in my emotion.

Friday continued with a few other encouraging things – a perfectly-timed devotional, an eye-opening talk with a friend and some absolutely wonderful news at the end of the day that made me cry tears of joy. After a painful week, God knew exactly what I needed to continue the healing process. He is so good and so faithful and so loving.

So, happy weekend friends. I still feel very reflective this rainy, Saturday morning, but I also feel just a little stronger.

Carry on, warrior
xo xo

One response

  1. Fred Nelson

    OOOOOhhhhhh! MMMyyyyyy! I just read the words of someone who has spiritually matured well beyond her years!! What a gift to know her!

    September 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

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