Naming Grief

How do you talk about a sunset, without sounding like every conversation about sunsets?
At the market, the checker she says, The sunset is beautiful—I love that I can watch it from this window.
I say, Oh yes, the colors are stunning. Those pinks, those yellows.
Then, when I get home, my mother-in-law, she says, Did you see the sunset?
I say, Oh yes, the colors are incredible. So bright.
Words replaced but constant in their meaning.
How do you talk about a sunset? How do you talk about anything, really?
About grief.
About a caged bird who sings of freedom—
Clipped wings that do not dip into a sunset or a sky.
Everyone asks how we are, but everyone is doing terribly—
How do you talk about grief?
Lovely and lonely and lyrical,
Grief rolls me about inside her mouth like a small pebble
Teaching me to be quiet and to be still—
I live in the shared space of my imagination, inventing new words for feeling sad.
The world has changed, and it is temporary but it does not feel that way—
And we say, Do you remember what it was like to freely leave the home?
It feels so long ago, but it was only just last week.
Collective.
How do you talk about grief when grief belongs to everybody in a single moment?
Uncertain of the future, how do you talk about a grief you do not know is even there?
There is work in feeling sadness—
You must name the grief, and then you must allow it to proceed inside you. In ordered fashion, through tears or anger, denials and mistrusts.
This morning, I sit outside and feed the single bird that answers to my call. The rest of them, baiting me from the branches of the trees above my head. How they glide out into the wind and leave me sitting in my fear, naming the sky as their own.
How do you talk about a caged bird, or share something that feels uniquely yours?
We say, When do you think this all will end?
No one has an answer, and so we talk about that too.
Lovely and lonely and lyrical,
Grief rolls us about inside her mouth like a small pebble
Teaching us to be quiet and to be still.
There are no new ways to describe sunsets,
But there are still sunsets—and every one of them is new.

20 thoughts on “Naming Grief

  1. Pingback: Naming Grief – HemmingPlay

  2. I grieve for the loss of my best friend, now gone these past two years. I grieve for my native land still trapped in divisive racist politics. I grieve for Brazil, my former adopted homeland, whose democratic government has fallen prey to corrupt oligarchs. I grieve for my adopted homeland of the United States for we have chosen to elect a leader who cares only about enriching myself and the oligarchs who support him. I grieve for the peoples of Planet Earth as we hurtle blindly towards our own self-extinction.

    Indeed, how do we name grief when we are all consumed by it, in its myriad shapes, forms, and colors–knowingly or unknowingly?

    Hold onto the sunset and the sunrise. They remain a constant reminder that we are not in control and were never in control of the universal forces that govern our lives.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Shayleene,
    So beautifully said.
    When my father died, late November, I vowed I would be real about grief. What has surprised me is that I now know I could be nothing else, but real, when it comes to grief, for it is as though it has overtaken my very being. When the tears came, there was no holding them back. When memories brought joy, I had to share them. When exhaustion hit, I slept. When sadness, anger, shock, nostalgia appeared I had to live in them, for pretending was no longer an option.
    It is as though an anchor is not just lifted, but eliminated, and one can only ride the waves as they come.
    May you feel supported by those around you, may you feel the peace that surpasses human understanding, may you receive rest as you learn to live with grief.
    Carole

    Liked by 1 person

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