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Healing Through Grief: A Poetic Journey to Remembering and Moving Forward


After last night's course on grief, I had dreams that culminated in this poem I wrote this morning.

The Bench


I've come to love this bench at the end of the wooden pier. I visited it a thousand times. I've come here year after year.


I know it in the deepest parts, of my mind. I can see it now, and no matter how far away from it, I can access it somehow.


Nor time, nor space, nor anything Can keep me from this chair. I know that I can visit it at any point and from anywhere.


And then one day as I sat there, something began to shift. The wind picked up, the surf grew large, and that pier began to drift.


I tried to hold on to my bench, but the waves came crashing in, and in a moment, the pier shattered, and I began to spin.


I looked for my bench to rescue it. I begged and hoped for the best. I cried, I yelled, I couldn’t believe, what happened in that unrest


And as I went to catch my breath, a wave cashed over me. Again and again, they pushed me down, I was drowning in the sea.


The world I knew was gone. In a moment, it disappeared, and what was left before me was everything I had feared.


My bench was gone, the pier was too, they wouldn’t ever return. That thing that I had grown to love; My heart began to yearn.


And the waves kept crashing over me, I had to get to shore. With sadness, and anger, and all the things, I didn’t want to face it. No more!


But I held on, and faced what was, I took a tiny breath. Acknowledging that this had happened, I felt the living death.


But I kept swimming, One small lap, a single stroke at a time, and from the waves, I met the shore, and I began to climb.


I looked out where my bench once was, It would never be there again. It was gone, forever, never to return, my heart was filled with pain.


Years have passed since that event, and I’ll never forget the bench, and though the memories still come to me, and cause my heart to wrench, I step forward and learn and grow anew, and the pain begins to quench.


So it is with grief…


When what once was, is not, we faced the pain and loss, and what we loved was separated by a chasm, we could not cross.


We didn’t move on. We didn’t forget, we moved forward and paid homage to that thing we loved and lost. We stepped, and learned, and grew.

At times we faced it boldly, and at other times, withdrew, and with every ounce of courage we have, We stepped into the new.


You heal from grief by grieving You acknowledge what is not You feel every ounce of feeling And You honor all that you’ve fought.


And so, I will always remember my dear bench on the wooden pier. Though it is gone, the memories last And I’ll carry them year to year


I’ll continue moving forward. I’ll feel what I need to feel. I'll face it, notice, and remember that It’s through grief that we truly heal.


Nicholas Townsend Smith © 2023

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