Putting Loss Into Words

Words have been my refuge in these strange days, as hard as they have been to come by.

The loss of a dear friend shook my world about a week ago. Although it was not entirely unexpected, foreknowledge often means we defer ‘one day’ to the point where it becomes ‘never’. Answerphone messages may not have the power to change world, but they can change an individual’s life in a moment. In some ways, I am thankful that I missed the call, because I know I would not have been able to receive the news with a peaceful attitude.

Even so, I wrote these words an hour after my gut feeling was confirmed.

I undertook my own ice bucket challenge
The moment I heard the news
No bucket, no ice
Cold water down the back nonetheless

A searing soul scream
Born of knowing
That the world in which I woke this morning
Will never be quite the same again

Once graced with his presence
It now smacks of his absence
Abruptly, though expected for longer
Than any would care to admit

We mark his moments in our lives
Our triumphs that he cheered
His triumphs that we cheered
We now mourn his absence

Even as we cheer his freedom.

I strongly feel that the importance of writing as a tool to cope with crisis cannot be understated. Perhaps I have been a writer for too long or become biased, but the written word brings perspective more quickly. Peace is found in understanding and acceptance, both of which may be hastened by the act of writing our feelings out.

As ever, music has offered comfort – both others’ and my own. I have spent the majority of today recording a song in my friend’s memory, which I hope to share soon.

Recent events have been harrowing and challenging, but I am reminded of a passage from one of my favourite books. In Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom reconnects with his former university tutor after the latter’s diagnosis of motor neurone disease. They continue where they left off after Albom’s graduation and broken promise to keep in touch. Each Tuesday, for fourteen weeks, they meet to discuss various aspects of life.

The last sentence Morrie is able to get out before Mitch? ‘Death ends a life, not a relationship.’

So it is with all of us. As days pass, I find that the feelings soften, to the point where I can ‘remember what he was to me, which was more than the way he died’ – misquoting my own poem.

The act of writing in the midst of great loss has quelled my fear of a future without my friend, and given me somewhere to go with these feelings. My craft assures me that survival is possible, as long as I cling to the pen, cling to the idea of the light at the end of the tunnel.

In hopes that my next post will be more positive, I will write as soon as I can.

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