FIRST YEAR MILESTONES are often overlooked as a time to honor the painful moments we move through without our loved ones. Planning a small ritual to acknowledge and name the event, first BIRTHDAYS, first HOLIDAYS, maybe with a lit candle by a photo, and a poem read aloud, is enough. Find ceremony templates here.
As we look back over time
We find ourselves wondering
Did we remember to thank you enough
For all you have done for us?
For all the times you were by our sides
To help and support us
To celebrate our successes
To understand our problems
And accept our defeats?
Or for teaching us by your example,
The value of hard work, good judgement,
Courage and integrity?
We wonder if we ever thanked you
For the sacrifices you made.
To let us have the very best?
And for the simple things
Like laughter, smiles and times we shared?
If we have forgotten to show our
Gratitude enough for all the things you did,
We're thanking you now.
And we are hoping you knew all along,
How much you meant to us.
-- Clare Jones
Everything that slows us down and forces patience,
everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.
Gardening is an instrument of grace.
Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit,
who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth,
and without light, nothing flowers.
-- May Sarton
I have to believe
That you still exist
That you still watch me
That you still love me
I have to believe
That life has meaning
That I am useful here
That I make small differences
I have to believe
That I need to stay here
For some time,
That all this teaches me
So that I can meet you again
-- Ann Thorp
Each grief has its unique side.
Choose the one that appeals to you.
Your body needs energy to repair the amputation.
Humor phantom pain.
Your brain cells are soaked with salt;
connections fail unexpectedly and often.
Ask for help.
Read your grief like the daily newspaper:
headlines may have information you need.
Scream. Drop-kick the garbage can across the street.
Don’t feel guilty if you have a good time.
Don’t act as if you haven’t been hit by a Mack Truck.
Do things a little differently
but don’t make a lot of changes.
Revel in contradiction.
Talk to the person who died.
Give her a piece of your mind.
Try to touch someone at least once a day.
Approach grief with determination.
Pretend the finish line doesn’t keep receding.
Lean into the pain.
You can’t outrun it.
-- Deborah A. Miranda
I shall pass this way but once;
any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being;
let me do it now.
Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
-- Etienne de Grellet
Now I am gone, now I am lost to you
Find me again just as you used to do:
In the house – when you go from room to room you’ll find
The bits and pieces that I’ve left behind.
In the street – of course . . . I’ve stopped to window-shop;
You carry on, my love, I’ll catch you up.
At night – as darkness slowly fills the sky:
I’m late; don’t fret; I’ll be there by and by.
At morning – when the sky is still blue-black,
I had to go out early: I’ll be back.
In sunshine – as you peer into the glare –
A shape that seems to be both light and air.
In rain – as you look out and people pass –
One leaves a reflection printed on the glass.
In the garden – when you doze away the hours
I pass with a smile on my face, and my arms full of flowers.
-- Lisa Kitson
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower
high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while.
The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up
out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him.
For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him
that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing:
there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
-- J.R.R. Tolkien
It is easily forgotten, year to
year, exactly where the plot is,
though the place is entirely familiar
a willow tree by a curving roadway
sweeping black asphalt with tender leaves;
damp grass strewn with flower boxes,
canvas chairs, darkskinned old ladies
circling in draped black crepe family stones,
fingers cramped red at the knuckles, discolored
nails, fresh soil for new plants, old rosaries;
such fingers kneading the damp earth gently down
on new roots, black humus caught in grey hair
brushed back, and the single waterfaucet,
birdlike upon its grey pipe stem,
a stream opening at its foot.
We know the stories that are told,
by starts and stops, by bent men at strange joy
regarding the precise enactments of their own
gesturing. And among the women there will be
a naming of families, a counting off, an ordering.
The morning may be brilliant; the season
is one of brilliances sunlight through
the fountained willow behind us, its splayed
shadow spreading westward, our shadows westward,
irregular across damp grass, the close-set stones.
It may be that since our walk there is faltering,
moving in careful steps around snow-on-the-mountain,
bluebells and zebragrass toward that place
between the willow and the waterfaucet, the way
is lost, that we have no practiced step there,
and walking, our own sway and balance, fails us.
-- Michael Anania
While I was fearing it, it came,
But came with less of fear,
Because that fearing it so long
Had almost made it dear.
There is a fitting a dismay,
A fitting a despair.
'Tis harder knowing it is due,
Than knowing it is here.
The trying on the utmost,
The morning it is new,
Is terribler than wearing it
A whole existence through.
-- Emily Dickinson
We trust that beyond absence there is a presence.
That beyond the pain there can be healing.
That beyond the brokenness there can be wholeness.
That beyond the anger there may be peace.
That beyond the hurting there may be forgiveness.
That beyond the silence there may be the word.
That beyond the word there may be understanding.
That through understanding there is love.
The rays of light filtered through
The sentinels of trees this morning.
I sat in the garden and contemplated.
The serenity and beauty
Of my feelings and surroundings
Completely captivated me.
I thought of you.
I discovered you tucked away
In the shadows of the trees.
Then, rediscovered you
In the smiles of the flowers
As the sun penetrated their petals
In the rhythm of the leaves
Falling in the garden
In the freedom of the birds
As they fly searching as you do.
I’m very happy to have found you,
Now you will never leave me
For I will always find you in the beauty of life.
-- Walter Rinder
I shall live beyond death, and I shall sing in your ears
Even after the vast sea-wave carries me back
To the vast sea-depth.
I shall sit at your board though without a body,
And I shall go with you to your fields, a spirit invisible.
I shall come to you at your fireside, a guest unseen.
Death changes nothing but the masks that cover our faces.
The woodsman shall be still a woodsman,
The ploughman, a ploughman,
And he who sang his song to the wind shall sing it also to
the moving spheres.
-- Kahlil Gibran, from The Garden of The Prophet
Those who are worn out and crushed by this mourning,
let your hearts consider this: This is the path that has existed from the time
of creation and will exist forever.
Many have drunk from it and many will yet drink.
As was the first meal, so shall be the last.
May the master of comfort comfort you.
Blessed are those who comfort the mourners.
-- Jewish blessing