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D is for Death and Dying

I was given a choice in writing about something to do with either the letter “C” or “D” this week, and I chose D for Death and Dying, because it is something that has been coming up quite a bit recently for people of my generation. We are of an age where we are losing our parents and other older relatives and friends. Death is not something we handle well in Western culture, although I think perhaps we are getting better at it in some regards.
My friends and I are of an age where our parents and older relatives are dying. It is a rite of passage no one really looks forward to – the death of a parent. Although I often would like to write poetry when I am in a happier mood, this does not always line up just right for me. My “art” for this week includes two poems I wrote – one after my father died, and the other not long after that, and about my friends going through something similar. If you have suffered a loss recently, I am with you. We all share this inevitability.
How to Survive the Loss of a Love
Grieve for grief must come
Do not fear your own river of tears.
To hold it back is to create a dam of bitterness.
Find joy in small moments of comfort:
            a song, a sign, a moment stolen alone.
Steal many moments alone if you can,
but do not reject the comfort of the living.
Do not forget to breathe and
do not clutch too tightly
So as not to block the airways.
Step into an open field and wonder
at the vastness of the sky
and the vastness of the earth,
the earth who holds us all so closely,
we do not even know she is there.
Give thanks for what was,
What is,
and what is yet to be.

There is always another bend in the road.


Our Fathers and Our Mothers
Marietta’s father lies, curled like a child
And in an instant I am brought back to the moment in which my father
lay curled, like a child, within his blankets.

We are all of us, losing our mothers and our fathers.
We are middle aged orphans, trying to navigate unknown but not unforeseen pathways.
The hospice nurse, the kindly chaplain, the social worker
These are our guides on this journey.

My friends and I hold hands and pray at the beds of the dying.
Not quite psychopomps, we are just children learning to say farewell.
We weep for one another’s losses and remember our own.

There is not a great deal that needs to be said to one another.
We are here together at this moment in the road that is our lives.
The journey now becomes about who will we be now?
The children have gone (or never arrived) and we have only one another.

As those who have gone before us know
We work with that time which we have left
In comfort, in grief, and in joy.

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