Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To Walk With Grief

A friend emailed me the following prayer, and the words are like a song to me:

Celtic Prayer
For All Who Grieve
Do not hurry
as you walk in grief.
It does not help the journey.

Walk slowly,
pausing often.
Do not hurry
as you walk in grief.

Do not be disturbed
by memories that come unbidden.
Swiftly forgive unspoken words.

Be not disturbed
be gentle with the one
who walks in grief.

If it is you
be gentle with yourself.
Swiftly forgive.
Walk slowly,
pausing often.

Take time,
be gentle
as you walk with grief.

I often feel that I am on a journey through sadness, a gray and shadowed land with occasional brilliant flashes of light. Mostly it is hard going, rocky and difficult to see the way. At other times it feels like the tides, coming in waves, sometimes deep and troubling, other times light and clear. And like the tide, always returning. This is not a bad thing; it simply is what it is and I am learning to move with its ebb and flow.

Perhaps I have not taken the words to heart: Walk slowly. Be gentle. Pause often to remember.

I wondered about the origin of the poem and in searching online came upon this sermon by a Jewish rabbi that expanded and enriched the prayer. His description of shiva reminded me of our week waiting for the funeral, and my feeling of wanting to be in a "family only" environment. The thirty days of re-entry make sense too. Perhaps, in my own way, I was doing just these things, allowing myself space for memories.

I think we hurry the process of mourning in our society. We want people to be well quickly, to get over bad things and move on. But in that rush we miss the depth of feeling that comes with taking the time to...well, feel.

Do not hurry as you walk in grief. Words that will guide my journey. I will stop to rest along the way, looking back over the country I've traversed and ahead to the light before me. My strong staff will be my friends and family, and my talisman the memory of my son's twinkling eyes.

The road looks suddenly smoother, the way not so dark.


Nance said...

Be Gentle.

Do no harm.

Take care.

Rowan said...

These are beautiful words and the advice they give is wise, grieving is a long process and can't, nor shoyuld it be, hurried.

Granny Sue said...

That is what I am learning, Rowan. Travel the path and trust my instincts.

Susan at Stony River said...

Lovely, lovely post.
I think we've thrown off a lot of traditions and customs that were wiser than we realised, and now I'm thinking of the mourning customs we used to have. Besides providing time and space to grieve, it also reminded us when to put those things away and return to ordinary days...not too soon, but someday.

That's a wise and beautiful prayer.

Marianne said...

What a truly wonderful poem...I wish that I had had that to go by many years ago...I try not to rush anything at all, but life keeps pushing me around, and all I want to do is sit and reflect. Many people feel that if you show your tears it is a sign of weakness; for me, it is a cleansing of the deep hurt that I feel. I love you Sue...hope your work is leaving you alone to deal with just you.

hope said...

I'm glad you're taking the time to feel...and not putting all those emotions in a box quickly shelved away.

I may not be here every day, but I do think about you and your family. Go at your own we walk quietly beside you.

Holly Hall said...

Wise words indeed. You are in my thoughts.

Brighid said...

Wonderful words to go by. We are all in such a rush, that the wise ways are often put aside. Thank you for sharing this poem. It means a lot. Blessed Be.

Wendy Perrone said...

Take the time to breathe, to remember, to heal. It is true that it's hard to grieve wholesomely in a 24 hour society, but you are in an area (State) that understands the need for grief and the process it must take for a person to be more whole later on. The grieving for a loved one recently lost is a loving and holy (in the Miltonic sense) process and there is honor to the life in the grieving.
Love you.

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