Meditations in Grief

poem as an invitation

It’s hard & it hurts & it feels

like time should collapse upon itself.

It’s hard / it’s hard / it’s hard.

This missing of someone. This

Desire for a hug. For another dance.

Stay with me. Return to me.

Let us meet again. Say hello. Please.

I never know how to hold the pain when it comes flooding in.

I’m stuck with simple words stumbling over one another on their way to the page. It’s hard shows up frequently. Because grief, more like surviving grief, feels too giant to handle alone. I wonder if it’ll ever get easier. Maybe that’s not the point. Maybe such a goal is useless. Who knows? All I really know is that poetry helps. My own lines included. I hope you can stay. Especially if you’re also climbing what feels like an insurmountable ache. Even if it isn’t the most important thing on your to-do list today, I hope you can sit with me in this space. If only for a little bit.

this is not a poem, but maybe it should be

Did you know that cemeteries have ratings? I didn’t.

I only found out a few weeks ago. An accidental surprise if you will. One second I was verifying the operating hours of my Papi’s cemetery, and the next I was scrolling through reviews of the place. Wild when you think about it. A side effect of capitalism? Probably.

I’m thinking now of Kevin Young’s poem, “Grief

“In the night I brush

my teeth with a razor”

How it feels like there’s a razor cutting up my teeth. It’s in my gums. Blood’s everywhere. Real messy. Thinking of how poems can comfort you, help you work through a feeling, and show that you’re not alone in your pain. How useful that all is, but also, how they can help you name a thing you don’t yet have words for. A thing like grief. I probably won’t ever meet Kevin Young, but I’m thankful for this poem. Thankful for what it says and all that it gestures towards.

Grief isn’t new to me. It isn’t new as a concept at all. It’s old. Like an ancient myth (some would say a curse). And yet, even with all that time, when I saw that 4.3-star rating along with all those reviews, I turned my phone off.

I hate surprises.

I can’t tell you what I did that night or what I thought or if I spoke to anyone, but I can imagine it felt a lot like taking a razor to my teeth. I took a screenshot of the rating and some of the reviews the next day. I have them still. I keep them to show them to someone the next time they bring up the five stages of grief. Where do cemetery ratings fall? Under which category can you neatly box them into? The stages fall short for me. They don’t help me wade through the ache, but poems do. Sharing words has helped me far more than any superficial mention of the five stages ever could.

Poems, I’m finding, are like friends.

Really good friends. Friends who drive to your house to drop off coffee when you tell them you’re tired; who buy stamps to mail you letters because they know you favor handwritten notes; who make playlists for you to listen to when you miss them; who send you photos of all the pretty things they encounter. Friends who call you up to say I love you. They friend you back to life.

When I told a few of my friends about the rating, they said, that doesn’t make sense. One hearted the message and replied with her own red heart emoji. The other called me to check in. Why are you looking at ratings of your dad’s cemetery?