A poem on grief by John O’Donohue


Today I found out that one of my fellow wordpress writers has lost her daughter, my heart is sad for her pain and grief, I could not find my voice to write .

The words below were written by the Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue who also no longer lives on earth and come from his book of blessings called Benedictus. I hope these words comfort you, dear Elizabeth. Much love and blessing Serena

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

John O’Donohue

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5 thoughts on “A poem on grief by John O’Donohue

  1. Thank you Serena,
    I have returned daily to the words of John O’Donohue. One week has passed and the deep abiss that I am falling into appears to have no bottom. The words in my mind are like a whirlwind around me; I am unable to gather them, nor will my fingers send their dark scroll onto the whiteness before me.

    Near me is a beautiful valley, the green velvet is splattered with a rainbow of wildflowers; the creek running through it is always in a rush to leave but it will now take my angel with it as it connects until it reaches the ocean.

    I run the trails every day, I allow my eyes to float through the tree tops, hoping to find that I seek and I return home a broken sparrow with nothing but scattered memories.

    Along the way through these 20 miles of trails I read aloud the wonderful poems of my wordpress friends, it gives me comfort and I hope another peice of my soul will take them upward toward my sweet girl as she loved poetry too.

    Thank you once again,

    Best Regards,
    Elizabeth

  2. exquisite. In silence he heard everything, he had all the right responses to the what ever the situation was.

  3. Beannacht by the same author . . . one of my favorites:

    On the day when
    The weight deadens
    On your shoulders
    And you stumble,
    May the clay dance
    To balance you.

    And when your eyes
    Freeze behind
    The gray window
    And the ghost of loss
    Gets in to you,
    May a flock of colors,
    Indigo, red, green,
    And azure blue,
    Come to awaken in you
    A meadow of delight.

    When the canvas frays
    In the curragh of thought
    And a stain of ocean
    Blackens beneath you,
    May there come across the waters
    A path of yellow moonlight
    To bring you safely home.

    May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
    May the clarity of light be yours,
    May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
    May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

    And so may a slow
    Wind work these words
    Of love around you,
    An invisible cloak
    To mind your life.

  4. I, too,attended a wake yesterday to be there for a longtime friend who sat by her daughter’s bed last week as she died. I appreciate this poem and will pass it on to her.

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