Sometimes Only Telling Will Do

Why must we idle among euphemisms?
My husband and son
Didn’t pass
They died
I didn’t carelessly
Lose them
They died
From the moment of birth
Is inevitable
I have a chronic illness
Slowly stealing my independence
Eventually it will kill me
We’re all going to die

Choosing words that obfuscate
Pretty words to alliterate
Will in no way obliterate
The reality of death
It hurts like hell
To be the last one standing
In my precious family of three
It would hurt a little less
If I could freely confess
They are dead – I ache – can’t you see

It will never go away
I will miss them every day
Yet when I speak of it some say
“Cheer up it’ll be okay”
And then they stay away…
It feels like a punishment to me
For speaking of my leafless family tree
All I want is to speak my truth
These words are not meant as abuse
They are my sincere heartfelt plea
They are dead – I ache – please sit with me

Won’t you sit with me in my sorrow
As you happily sit with me in joy
I’m not always sad and miserable
Sometimes I want to speak about my boy
Share again the story
Of the day he took his life
“We’ll talk again tomorrow”
My final words a jagged knife
How my fear and heartache grew
With each unanswered call
The pounding on his door
The words that made me fall
Knowing I couldn’t save my son
The deepest cut of all
It’s fifteen years since my boy’s death
I will be forever bereft

Ten years later my husband collapsed
Died his head resting on my breast
Life and death had worn him out
His heart ceased pumping in his chest
He gently squeezed my hand
As he took his final breath
I didn’t lose him I was holding him
He died – I was witness to his death
A loving gentle caring man
He’d shared more than half my life
I’ll never tick the ‘widow box’
Because I will forever be his wife
Death will never define me
And yes it sometimes causes strife
He’d be proud and amused
By this determination of mine
He’d also understand and agree
Passed and lost can never define
The reality and finality
Of living life with grief
Death is a forever thing
It’s life that’s far too brief

My rhythm and rhyme are all over the place
This poem mirrors life
And death does not fit any mould
No perfect syntax can describe
Why I’m not one for passed and lost
For me it’s dead and died

Tricia 8/2014

About triciabertram

I have written all my life. Writing helps me to make sense of a world I often don’t understand. Poetry is my supreme solace, closely followed by literature and music. When my son ended his life in 1999 I embarked on the most difficult journey of my life, my grief journey. To survive in this unknown, harsh landscape I had to write. It was for me, the only way I could even begin to move forward. Then in 2009 my darling husband died suddenly and so my journey continues. I write about other issues but because of my life experience, grief and death are continuing themes in my writing life. In our culture I believe there is a fear of death, an inability to accept the inevitability of our mortality, and this creates enormous difficulties for the bereaved and those around them. I have begun this blog in the hope I will create a small ripple in the pond of fear that is currently drowning the reality of death and grief. I will continue to skim the stones of my truth, watch them bounce, and see how many ripples I can make.

Posted on August 20, 2014, in Poems. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This reminded me of “in the film Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Mr. Magorium attempts to explain his death to Molly Mahoney by using the words “He dies” from Act Five of William Shakespeare’s King Lear.

    Mr. Magorium: [to Molly, about dying] When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is “He dies.” It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with “He dies.” And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it’s only natural to be sad, but not because of the words “He dies.” but because of the life we saw prior to the words.”

  2. Well said. I understand the need to talk of your son, his life and his death, to remember the sound of his voice and to keep his memory alive for others. You need to be able to repeat the same story, to feel the grief, sometimes, that is the only thing you feel. Thank you for expressing this emotion so well in your verse.

  3. Frankly, you get to make the rules. I so firmly believe that. You, with the “leafless family tree” can pick the words and add the definitions. That others in your life can’t let that be the truth is beyond my understanding. I wish I could sit with you and just listen, Tricia. I have never found it an unbearable burden to sit with someone in emotional pain. It’s hard, but not as hard as it is for the one who is grieving. Thank you for sharing your life in your “rhythm and rhyme” and perhaps you will feel how touched I am to be listening. I am concerned for your physical condition, too, my friend. I hope you continue to have excellent Carers. ox Debra

  4. Words can have powerful emotional connotations. In love sounds better than obbessed with. But they mean the samw thing. Take care my friend. Good wishes from Ireland.

  5. Oh Tricia, I understand your need for these words so much. I actually hadn’t come across the word “passed” really until I came onto fb. I thought it was an Americanism but Ive since seen it lots and I hate it. I think maybe people are treading on eggshells when they say passed and loss, for fear of upset, but I am with you all the way. Love you to bits and I would sit and hold your hand all day if you needed me to. ❤️ Xxx

  6. Wonderful words Tricia, so good of you to put them down and share this way. You are educating me about dealing with death at a time that I need it, forever thankful. I will sit with you also, in sorrowful silence, or to talk about it. xx

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