i trace the exquisite lines of my grief, run
my fingers over the contours of the rock that is
my gut like the tender potter over his clay
kneading, kneading to soften the lump

and lift my head to find the
world hadn’t ground
to a halt in honor
of my loss.

squeals puncture the playground air
with a drumroll of sneakers that sound carefree but
for the worry of Tag. nothing matters more to the
flustered It than not being It anymore.
the park, a carol of delight
in the moment

it is a holiday.

a daughter is given away,
the sun breaks on the threshold of her hopes,
her horizon wide outside the windows of the church

i walk into an office, took the long way
through hell. after the unsure “i’m sorry”

the girl behind the counter continues on her business.
epiphany: the sky that had fallen on me
had shielded her head. her day intact, she consults
the clock that agrees she ought to pick up her
son from school. she doesn’t see

her beautiful ordinary.

brazen world.

a baby is born in the moment of my
stunned helplessness. such long arms:
the hour holds my emptiness in one hand

the fullness of a mother in the other.

but i bow my head again
my sorrow, a pain that refracts the sun.
why must anyone orbit my heartache?
i free the world to its joys and
mourn with those who mourn.

to every thing there is a season and
a time to every purpose under heaven
my time to weep, someone’s right to laugh.
i loosen the hold on the rock that is
my gut, slippery with tears. my offering
before the opulence of living.

~ for all who have grieved


158 thoughts on “bereft

  1. Dear, I may have encouraged you to write more (and I am so grateful that you have and hope that you will) but such exquisite poetry as this is all yours and proof all of its self that you have a wonderful gift to share. Such a fine and delicate poem…truly, exquisite and visceral. Thank *you*.

  2. I hope you continue to write more poetry, it is a very beautiful gift that you have. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks, my friend. I really appreciate it. The last one I wrote was Strawberries…about 10 yrs ago. I felt so dusty rusty. I was thinking of you this wknd. I plan to be back as soon as I can. *Pat hand* Diana

      • I didn’t mention it the other day because I was too sad to, but July 5th is the anniversary of my Dads death 28 years ago. I had just finished writing and posting a poem which I wrote which was so so hard to write and then I came here and read your poem and I couldn’t believe the synchronicity. The universe always seems to throw up the right thing at the right time, it made so much sense. Thank you.
        Also I feel it is worth reiterating that you have got obvious talent as a poet, I knew that by the end of the first stanza. I have read a lot of poetry and I know that this is a very good poem indeed, I only hope that you continue to write because if this was your first poem in ten years then I look forward to reading your poetry when you are “less rusty”, not that you were rusty at all here.
        Thanks again.

      • Mark. I want to say I’m so sorry but I vowed last year, the anniversary on which I posted the poem, never to utter such a weak condolence again. My sorry cannot touch your grief, old and fresh. I teared up at your words here. I’m glad you wrote of your memory and numbing loss. I got to see. I got to share. I got to know you better. As to the gracious commendation, gee, I almost feel like a charlatan. The gallons of poetry I’m supposed to down if I want to write it I have only sipped in my lifetime. So much to learn. But I’m so grateful for the free praise. I wish I had the time to express what it’s in my heart right now on the privilege of being HERE, to be talking with hearts like yours, giving one another audience to our life. May you go from strength to strength. Diana

    • “I really related to this poem.” I know there is a whole world of grief and shock and disappointment behind this sentence. Thanks for letting me know. Somehow we draw comfort in the fellowship of suffering, don’t we? My heart to yours. Diana

  3. No, because I say I walk into it, having gone thru hell to get there. I always welcome clarification questions, and am never done revising. I rechecked the lines…they are good as they are. Thanks so much for caring to ask.

  4. This is stunningly beautiful. God has truly blessed you with a gift. Speaking from experience, sometimes encouragement is all you need.

    i free the world to its joys
    and mourn with those who mourn.

    That may have just inspired something..thank you and I do hope you continue writing. You never how much of your own pain can bring the beginnings of another’s healing.

    • I am so moved. Thanks for such lovely, loving, specific feedback. I walked in from a very tiring day of errands to a tsunami of affirmation on this post. I share that for the surprise it is…I simply wrote out of my own heartache. And posted on the one-yr-anniversary. But I am glad it speaks and ministers to others. I look fwd to visiting you and taking in your work when I’ve caught my breath. Thank you for all your support. Obliged, Diana

      • You are very welcome. Some of the most heartbreaking events in life bring pain, but also clarity. That at our weakest, we are strengthened by a love deeper than we will ever be able to fully comprehend. I pray you are comforted in this truth, as you continue to heal from this heartache. 🙂

  5. This brings out the lump that so easily overtakes my throat. I must share; My broken heart is seared with anguish yet presses on in joy because of the hope that it holds, because of our sweet Lord Jesus Christ! We know how this all ends, and when we dwell on that it gives us great courage and hope. We suffer and intensely grieve… We pray for understanding, we pray for more faith… we pray God help us! As a result our faith is increased and our love overflows and we have peace that surpasses our understanding. That peace meshed together with our tears. Our growing faith and knowledge of God increases our understanding. Only God knows the deepest places of grief and sorrow. We certainly taste it, bitterly. Our hearts remind me of the ocean, just when you think you have hit the hardest deepest place you are brought to something even deeper and harder. What you think you can’t ever fathom or cope with God places you there and leads, loves, and equips you to do as He wills. Praise God for paving a way for us to live, love, and hope. Praise God for the gift of faith! Praise God He carries us and when we are weak He is strong. With love I share this truth. Praise God!

  6. THIS is absolutely beautiful. Breath-taking. Raw. Real. I have felt, too, the pangs of wanting the world to stop when one is grieving — me or dear ones of mine. Thank you soooooooooo much for coming back to your craft of writing poetry! I write, too! I am being drawn to share more poetry of mine on my blog. We shall see! Simply exquisite. I’m glad you had the courage to write this and share. Beautiful. Love, Lisa

    • Lisa! I’m getting chills. Am entirely grateful for such a gracious response. Thanks for taking the time to be clear and for the affirmation that goes such a long way, writer to writer. I hoped people can relate – no matter the details of their pain: we wonder sometimes that the world parades past and around our stunned pain. But as I said in the Lessons from My 30s, my starter post on the board, I’ve learned not to obligate others into my world. And this decision — reached sans the cynicism of my younger years. I now am just grateful for those who choose to stop and see and hug and cry with me, or even to cheer me as you have. I really appreciated your posts today. I could totally relate to your struggles as a mother (how impatient I can be with my little one!), which you expressed beautifully. I look fwd to the rich store of poetry from your journey. Love (really), Diana

      • Diana,

        YOU inspired me to stay up really late tonight and share very intimate, sultry poem that I wrote in 2012! Thank you, dear heart!!! I hope it inspires others to see what Love can truly be.

        Girl, I am telling you — your words today are BEAUTIFUL. When I can see myself in a poem — when a deeeep “yes, I get it” rises up from within me as I read, when I am moved to have compassion for myself and another — THAT is beautiful writing! I am moved by your courage and how you wrote from the heart — from the deep “knowings” within you that want to be out in the world as healing balm to others.

        About motherhood — yes. I hear you! My two little ones — little gems…and my greatest teachers. I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation for almost two decades. And STILL there are many moments when I get allllll triggered with my kiddos and I react. But I am learning to soften, breathe, allow, forgive myself, and begin again. THIS is my meditation practice, too!

        I look forward to hearing more of your heart whisperings.

        Ok, finally, good night!!!


      • Awww….I so appreciate the elaboration and your time, L. I heard every word and the song beneath. Thanks so much for enabling me, wAnting me, to taste the fruit of my work. I, actually, wrote you the following in my head half an hour ago in the kitchen. =) Simply that, I read of an Irish missionary shero of mine when I was in college, the beautiful Amy Carmichael, who asked herself “Is this true?” when she wrote. She didn’t write to publish….put out mostly letters to supporters while she labored in India rescuing girls from a life of sex slavery. But she wrote prolifically. For some reason, her ques has stuck with me these two decades. And now at the desk, I ask myself…is this true? before clicking Publish. Meaning, I don’t write primarily to sound good, even to move or stir. BEREFT was a video replay of how llfe looked and felt from inside the pain exactly a year ago. I thought I would post this someday….what I just shared with you. You know, I think I will.

        I wrote in older posts at the milepost of 100, then 200 followers, that THIS is the stuff of blogging: this exchange and fellowship that inspire you and me to greater heights and deeper places.

        I REALLY look fwd to that poem of yours!! I’ll get to it in 24 hrs (prolly sooner). I’ve been trying to work on my holistic nutrition blog tonight, half-brained with fatigue, and tmrw am out much of the day in church.

        I am VERY excited for you! I’ve been experiencing the creativity that fuels creativity. I couldn’t believe I was able to write my 2nd-poem-in-a-decade two days ago while sitting with my son over his lunch. (My next post.)

        Yours will be among the first blogs I open tmrw.

        Love, Diana

  7. I love to write, but I don’t know how to write poetry. So thank you! Your poem encapsulated a lot of what I’ve felt. Beautiful.

  8. Such touching words –
    I like what you said about slowing down and craftamanship..
    I am so thankful you do take the time to listen to your heart and to share.
    I think the world could use a little extra right now. Thanks.
    Much love –
    Thanks also for taking the time to visit.

  9. Bereft…such comforting words to my somberness tonight. You are so blessed and speak with truth. Thank you for bringing this to my attention tonight. I have been lost in my despair lately, and I needed this reading. God bless you greatly, dear friend.

    • Doris, I will pray for you. Again I want to say sorry for the despair but I-don’t-need-to. God is more than capable of meeting you there. Thanks so much for the response and support, and clear feedback. Sweet to know my words do sOmething. Diana

  10. It has been almost 8 years since I last lived in that place, yet reading this brings fresh tears. Thank you for sharing. May we all keep moving toward healing.

  11. I’m just getting: “my time to weep, someone’s right to laugh” and the world does not orbit around my grief. Beautiful poem. Thank you for visiting my site.

  12. Thank you for this achingly beautiful work, and for directing me to it, sharing it with me. I appreciate your generous spirit and powerful pen. Peace and blessings to you and yours…..

  13. Thanks for your kind thoughts and for reading my blog. I am still not sure where your grief comes from-or is it many “griefs”. I guess none of us know what to say, like you mentioned, there are no words for that kind of pain. There is no word for a mother who has lost a child, you aren’t a widow, widower, orphan….you are just in your own private hell. hope to read more of your work, beebeesworld

    • You said, “I am still not sure where your grief comes from.”

      “brazen world.

      a baby is born in the moment of my stunned helplessness. such long arms: the hour holds my emptiness in one hand the fullness of the mother in the other.”

      I will leave it at that.

      “hope to read more of your work”

      Well, you said you hoped I would follow when you started following me so I came on board.


      • Sometimes I find it easy to sift through the words and go to the kernel of the theme. To read other peoples stories of pain always helps because you know that you aren’t alone. Pain is pain no matter what causes it.
        Will do, look forward to talking again.

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  15. Grief is indeed a lonely place yet it is universal. It has never failed to amaze me that in great pain and despair lives a raw and tender beauty which, when put into the right words as they come spilling out, tells a story of such breathless sweetness so as to make one catch their breath. This is how I felt reading this poem DIana. Even as a tragedy unfolds before my very eyes. Spellbounding.

    • Sherri, I’d meant to add to my comment over at your place that you were in no way expected to respond to this poem with all the writing you want to keep up yourself. Thank you for the eXquiiSite thoughts. Life does offer us treasure in the rubble and ashes, if we will look. I’m so glad we can share a parallel journey of discovery in words. Love and gratitude, Diana

  16. The poem “sounds” painful. In its rawness it offers soothing comfort. It reminds me of the serene beauty of a trickilng waterfall.

    I’ve written one pet loss poem but it is not polished and I can not call myself a poet. I just wrote that one for my daughter when her cat died back in 1999.

    You are a lady of many talents. Very well done.


    • I always appreciate feedback on how people receive my poetry in their spirit. I’m just glad to hear this one managed to bring some comfort, Yvonne. I imagine your daughter was glad for the poem you wrote her. =)

  17. This is a gorgeous poem.

    The opening stanza reminded me of my massage therapist husband’s healing hands, when he uses them to knead and soften painful knots in my shoulders with loving, warm energy.

    “a baby is born in the moment of my
    stunned helplessness. such long arms:
    the hour holds my emptiness in one hand
    the fullness of the mother in the other.”

    Oh…so poignant.

    It reminds me when I held my sister’s hand when she gave birth to her stillborn son.

    I wrote a long letter to my sister about bearing witness to her experience. She was so drugged up she hadn’t remembered much, but she was glad I recorded my perspective. I saved a copy of it for me, too, because I didn’t want to forget what I’d witnessed.

    Here was the blessing in the tragedy:

    “When you looked at Joseph and said wistfully, “I wish we had a camera”, the nurse said right away she could get one for you. I could have hugged that nurse for that. Seldom have I heard hospital staff being so empathetic.

    Then when I looked more closely at Joseph, that’s when I noticed his hand, the most amazing, perhaps even holy, thing about him was that his left hand was in the perfect shape of the sign language sign for “I love you”. Pinky and index finger straight up, middle and ring finger bent down to the palm. Thumb at a 45 degree angle to the palm, the hand was near his face in the perfect place to be to show someone looking at him the “I love you” sign. I don’t think anybody noticed it but me. In amazement, certain it was a sign from God, I told you to look at his hand, I said he’s trying to tell you he loves you. And you did see it. You then asked, “what are we going to tell Max?”. I said, “you’re going to tell him he was born into the arms of Jesus”, and the tears fell from your eyes.”

    Thank you so much for sharing this touching poem.

    Blessings to you…

    Let your light shine on!


      • I hesitated sharing, because it seemed to me that it would strike a deep chord within you. But at the same time, I have been blessed to be present in such a moment. I have been present for others in their bereavement, and just before passing into the next realm.

        I wish I could hold your space a little, right now. I know the tender spots never really go away. Sharing stories is a way to become connected, but can touch on our wounds.

        There is a beautiful book out there called Unattended Sorrow: Recovering from Loss and Revivifying the Heart by Stephen Levine. There’s a review here:

        I actually published my letter to my sister on my blog, with a warning about it, knowing that such sharing can bring about fresh pain. But I shared because I know there have been women on message boards who wanted to know what they were in for. I shared parts of my story for other mothers wanted to know what to expect when they birthed their angels too. I shared on my blog, too, because I read it from time to time and want to remember.

        Sometime in the future, when my children are older, I want to volunteer in a hospice setting. Palliative care for the terminally ill speaks to my soul. I’ve had some practice already – my grandparents, my dear friend, a few not so close acquaintances that became closer through their terminal illness. Sometimes, when I just look at people and invite them to embrace, something happens and they feel safe enough to let the tears spill out. I was surprised when one time it was my stoical, arrogant uncle who I didn’t like so much once upon a time when my grandmother died (his mother). It totally changed the view I had of him. It means a lot to me to be there for people in such small, but deeply meaningful ways.

        DIana, thank you for letting me share with you.

        I’d embrace you, if I could. I’ve been a bit weepy myself all day, as I’d been lost in a few memories of my own.

        Peace, and blessings to you, my friend.


      • Casey, I’m okay, though I stayed teary for a bit after my last comment. It was a reaction of deep empathy and pain for your sister as much as it was a trigger. I do accept the embrace, though. Gratefully and gladly. =) Sounds like you’ve found one of your callings. A ministry, though you may not quite call it that, of compassion. It pleases me. The heart you have for those who find themselves helpless in loss and infirmity will go where words cannot.

        We don’t look at and touch one another like that enough.

        A related tangent – on the writing (in line with your comment on the saving spit post). I don’t think that writing instructor would blast the piece you wrote for your sister as he did in class. The understatedness was what helped bring out the excruciating beauty. Though my writing can get descriptive, I’m a minimalist. The temptation for most people in your shoes would’ve been to magnify the sorrow. No one needs to do that. The situation speaks for itself. You just simply and honestly told what you saw.

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  20. Is this from before?
    The weird echo in my mind as o read them,
    And I remember them as a memory.
    The pain here was raw,
    And I saw a darkness I did not wish to enter,
    The shadow on a loss for which I was not prepared.

  21. As one who has grieved, is grieving, thank you for sharing this exquisitely perfect poem…you have captured the feelings so many of us struggle to find words for… magnificently. Thank you 🙂

    • Thanks for letting me know, CC. I’ve been thinking of you. I want to say “I’m sorry” but I vowed never to say that again to one who grieves. How trite. Those words could never touch your pain. My deepest, fullest condolences with affection…


  22. What an exquisite poem. The work with the rock is profound, and the sentiments square with the experiences of so many. You speak what we feel and so provide a balm. Peace to you…

  23. Your poem touched me, deeply, and I see in the comments that you touched many with your words. We are alone in grief, and this is something that made me wonder already early in life: how is it possible that I’m on my way to a funeral, and other people just wait for the bus or carry their shopping bags as if nothing happened? And vice versa, I wait for the bus or carry my shopping bags, and see people on their way to a last farewell, and I sense we are in different worlds, and I’m at that moment blessed from the intense, fresh, shocking grief. I read a lot of this “divide” into your poem, how we get to know both sides, how difficult it is to bridge the gap between the two, how little we know of the grief of others. I can only say thank you.

    • Your eloquent commentary shows you really got it. It was the loneliness of grief I wanted to bring to light. We will all grieve at some point. That sharp divide between those who sorrow and stumble stupefied in their loss, and those who smile at the sun shining on them is an irony that’s almost twisted. It’s quite a point of disbelief. But I think the lesson can be simple. It’s a call for humility that the world doesn’t revolve around us and that people are not obligated to (a most painful lesson when you’re plunged in the dark), and a call for compassion when our steps are lighter than others’. I so appreciate your time and feedback.


  24. I have always equated un-resolved grief to the lead apron thing the dentist puts on you to take exrays. But is it ever resolved? Lovely poetry and thank you.

    • Interesting analogy. Good question on the resolution. I think it’s okay, if not necessary and good, to feel free to cry and feel the grief as fully as you want whenever you want for however you want. But letting it incapacitate, handicap, or stain your living and present relationships is another thing. Wow, can we seize life with all the joys and hope it offers in one hand, and fully taste our grief with the other? I think so.

    • I have noted that grief unresoved, or guilt driven contributes to many cases of rage and self abuse, drinking, drugs, bad choices. Needs to be dealt with more…for those who don’t write it out in poetry.

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