A Poignant Grief Poem
With opening comments by grief counselor Marty Tousley, author of the First Year of Grief
This beautifully crafted poem ~ a stunning and vivid description of raw grief ~ was written by award-winning author Ellen Bass, who teaches poetry and creative writing in Santa Cruz, California. In a recent interview on NPR with Voices In the Family‘s Dan Gottlieb, Ellen said the poem “came from a time of great despair and personal suffering” in her life. Still, it strikes a universal chord, and in the end sends a message of hope that resonates with anyone who has experienced overwhelming loss.
The Thing Is | Ellen Bass
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again