5 Poems That Have Helped Me Heal After Loss

Today is National Poetry Day! I always love when this day rolls around each year because my journey with poetry has been an interesting one. 

I initially hated poetry. We had a few different poetry units when I was in K12 and I hated it because I couldn't identify with any of the "famous" poets that were apart of the curriculum. I dreaded writing poems because I didn't agree with or understand any of the "rules" that I was told about what a poem is/isn't. I remember we had to memorize poems to share and I would only say Robert Frost's Fire and Ice. Even if another student chose it as their poem to share, I'd refuse to pick anything else because that was the only "famous" poem that I understood.

As I got older I started discovering different kinds of poets and that's when I fell in love with poetry. 

Grieving is hard but I've found that poetry is a friend I never knew I needed. Poetry pops right in with exactly the right words at exactly the right time. Poetry doesn't need you to explain what you're feeling because it just gets you. 

I truly believe that poems find you when you need them the most. Here are some of my favorites about grief, love, hope and healing. 

"grieve. so that you can be free to feel something else." 

I came across this poem by Nayyirah Waheed a couple of years ago and it struck me right away. Letting myself feel my feelings as they are, when they are, has always been really difficult for me. I tend to think "I don't have the time for this" and while not feeling is a temporary fix, it's ultimately an unhealthy coping mechanism that has made things worse. Because of that I've made a promise to myself that I will let myself feel whatever feelings I have and that I won't save them for later in the back of my brain. It's been a learning process - and a really difficult one at that - but I'm growing and healing because of it. 

"how freeing it is,
to put our ache into words,
to put our words into lanterns,
(to light another's path) with the
pain that we've carried."

This is a poem by Anne Sparow and I came across it very recently on Instagram. I initially really struggled with finding healthy ways to cope with losing Onyx and it wasn't until I started writing that I began to feel a sense of relief. Literally, my shoulders are no longer aching as much and I feel like I can (mostly) breathe again. Writing has been a great outlet so this poem really resonates with me.

"healing comes in waves
and maybe today
the wave hits the rocks

and that's okay
that's okay, darling

you are still healing
you are still healing." 

I first came across Ijeoma Umebinyuo's poetry when I was in college and have loved her work every since. This poem is one of my favorites because sometimes I really struggle with explaining how I am feeling but water analogies seem to describe my emotions perfectly. I often say that the pain is constant but it comes in waves. Sometimes I'm drowning and sometimes I'm floating. Either way, I'm in the water just trying to survive. 

"Do not stand at my grave and weep 
I am not there. I do not sleep. 

I am a thousand winds that blow. 

I am the diamond glints on snow. 

I am the sunlight on ripened grain. 
I am the gentle autumn rain. 
When you awaken in the morning's hush 
I am the swift uplifting rush 
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry; 
I am not there. I did not die."

For many years the author of this poem was just "anonymous" but it was later confirmed to be by Mary Elizabeth Frye. When I initially read this poem I thought it was really sad but when I came across it again recently I felt a different meaning from it. Onyx may no longer be in my belly or in my arms, but he definitely still has a presence in this world. I associate him with nature a lot because his astrology sign is connected to the earth element and so is the onyx stone that he is named after. 

"and here you are living
despite it all"

People often hate on Rupi Kaur because her poems seem very simple and therefore are assumed to "not really be poetry" but I love her work, especially this poem. If you search the poem on Google you can find the beautiful drawing that goes along with it of a woman hugging herself. 

Have poems helped you on your healing journey? If so, please share some of your favorites with me, I'd love to hear them. 

Be gentle with yourself today and always,