Way of Living

The pages of infinite books of love are pasted 
on walls without windows or doors.  Care 
packages assemble themselves on counters 
as loaves of bread align like matchsticks on tables.  
Seeing others get out to tell stories opens up 
ways for prayer to return to where it belongs.
Many say, no, and refuse to get used to wearing
gloves, glasses and masks to guard against
the wishful thinking that surrounds the land where 
people confirm suicide as a valid way of living.

Grief Described…

from “The Scream” by Edvard Munch

…or the most difficult thread to follow…

(For those who encounter this Blog and/or this post for the first time… My daughter, Sydney Marie Brotheridge, committed suicide and died on June 9, 2018.)

Warning: Grammar Ahead!

(How many times have I said or have heard the following said: “Grammar kills me!” or “If I have to conjugate one more verb I’m going to kill myself!” Needless to say, I have a deeper and more profound understanding of the significance of Grammar’s Death-Dealing Ways when placed alongside Life’s Death-Dealing Ways.)

So, in the immortal words of my high school freshman Language Arts teacher, Mr. Chip Shields: “Grammar is important. Proper grammar could save your life.” (I have no idea if Mr. Shields said those EXACT words back in 1979 but they capture the gist of what I took away from those tedious Grammar units in Language Arts.)

Two dictionary definitions: Grief as a noun and Grieve as a verb in two forms…

Grief, noun, Intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death

“I am overcome with Grief because of Sydney Marie’s death.”

Grieve, verb, [intransitive] to feel very sad, especially because someone has died

“I am still grieving the death of my daughter, Sydney Marie.”

Grieve, verb, [transitive] to make you feel very sad

“Sydney Marie’s death grieves me that I could do nothing to help her.”

I love how the Oxford Dictionary winnows incredibly complex thoughts, processes, states of being and human emotions down to a few simple words. (An aside: It strikes me that the Dictionary Method is the exact opposite of the Poetic Method. In other words, the Poetic Method takes a few simple words to create in the reader’s mind complex thoughts, processes, states of being and human emotions. I can’t help but feel that the difference is similar to a preference between: “Who’s on First?” by Abbott and Costello or “Chapter V: Advice From A Caterpillar” from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll?)

Google “grief” and you can click pages and pages and pages of “Next,” which leads me to think that Oxford’s dictionary definition cannot fulfill what a person wants when s/he seeks to live with grief. (Another aside: I think a fairly strong case can be made that Grief is more complex than Love when it comes to lived human experience. OR, and this is a novel thought for me, perhaps Grief, not Hate, is the opposite of Love. I am going to have to explore that thread a bit more…later.)

…Back to my Grief over Sydney Marie’s death which grieves me when I am grieving.

I have not found solace or solution for MY Grief in the countless books about Grief. The number of websites, let alone books, that number Grief in one way or another numbs my mind…and my heart. For example: “6 Grief Books That Actually Helped,” “9 Best Books for Dealing With Grief and Loss,” “32 Books About Death and Grief,” “11 Books to Help You Confront Your Grief” (How insane is the idea “confront your Grief”?), “Journeying Through Grief” (As if Grief is a location or an adventure), and my favorite, “I’m Dying Up Here: Books on How to Grieve and How to Die.”

Instead, give me a poem. Give me a poem.

Here are two books of poetry that currently carry me along my almost impossible and certainly insane “Journey through the Adventure-Land of Grief”:

The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief & Healing edited by Kevin Young

Holocaust Poetry compiled and introduced by Hilda Schiff

AND, more than any other, THE ONE POEM that captures the nature of MY GRIEF (One thing I have learned about Grief is that Grief is VERY personal and VERY different for each individual) is the following:

TAKE MY GRIEF… by Charla Norman
Do you want my grief,
Take it please,
Hold it next to your heart,
Feel it burn and tear you apart,
Please I beg of you,
Ease my mind,
Give me sleep for just one night,
Get the flashbacks,
The heart stopping pangs,
The helplessness from losing my way,
Can you feel my grief,
Hold it close,
It will bring you to your knees,
Your soul will yell, it will scream,
Can you hear it bellow while it takes your peace,
Your body aches, your mind stands still,
You live in the past, where things were real,
Help me friend,
I ask of you,
Take this grief,
For a day or two,
Just long enough, so I can clear my head,
So I can pretend my child’s not dead.