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Using Poetry to Cope with Grief

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There may be many things in existence that are designed to occupy our mind, much of which was unavailable many years ago, but one thing that has remained constant when it comes to helping collect our thoughts and organise our emotions, is poetry.

Whether reading or writing poetry, people have used it as a mechanism to cope with grief for many centuries.

Poetry allows a writer to explore their emotions and release their thoughts by use of word, while a reader can connect with the written piece and find familiarity, hope, positivity, or comfort.

Writing poetry during times of grief can help one process the tangled thoughts that race around the mind and deal with the difficult times that are faced throughout the journey of life.

Reading poetry during times of grief can remind you that you’re not alone in facing the loss of someone you love dearly, and that it’s perfectly normal to feel sadness and want to seek some form of positive light.

Large book of poetry about grief placed on a white table

Dealing with bereavement is a very personal process as we each work through this difficult time in our own way and timeframe.

Nevertheless, it is generally agreed that bottling up our emotions for a prolonged period of time tends to keep our lives gripped by grief and sadness for longer.

If there is no outlet or mechanism that can help someone to process their emotions, the grief can manifest into issues that are more physical, such as insomnia, panic attacks, nausea, lethargy and depression, among others.

Worse still, according to research by Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester, bottling our emotions can even increase our risk of premature death, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Some people choose poetry as an outlet early in the grief process because they are aware of its benefits, while others come across poetry while curiously searching for something that may ease the burden of grief, or when trying to understand exactly what it is their feeling.

How Can Writing Poems Help with Grief?

Grief is a very complex and difficult thing to deal with. Many of us may struggle to understand how we feel as our emotions tend to switch quite dramatically during times of grief but writing down how we feel in specific moments can help us better understand things that are resting heavy on our mind.

There is a reason so many people keep a journal – yes, it can act as a way to fondly recall memories when reading it back in the future, but it also allows people to explore and navigate through their own current emotions, ultimately finding a way to successfully process them over time.

If journal-keeping is too much of a commitment, writing poetry as and when you feel like it can serve as an alternative creative outlet.

There are no rules to abide when writing poetry. It is truly subjective, so your poems may be long, short, and with or without rhyming – it is all your call and on your terms.

You don’t even have to share your poetry if you don’t feel comfortable doing so as it can be something you may want to keep for yourself.

For those that do, you could consider sharing them with family members and close friends, or looking into the many poetry clubs and competitions that exist, either locally or globally online.

Old woman sat at a table writing a poem about grief following death of a loved one

Where Can You Find Out More About Poetry?

The art of writing poetry isn’t something that comes naturally to many people.

As with most things in life, you’re likely to improve with practice, but this doesn’t have to be about successfully launching a career in published poetry writing!

It’s about finding a release for your thoughts and working your mind in a positive way to help you deal with the sadness, confusion, anger, and concoction of other emotions you have running through your head during bereavement.

If writing poetry really isn’t for you, then reading poems about grief can have just as much of a therapeutic effect.

You can choose to read poems that relate to how you feel on that given day, or poems that relate to where you believe you are in your personal journey through the grieving process.

The poetry you read can be mournful or uplifting – you get to choose, and you can change your mind on the tone of the poems from day-to-day to suit your changing emotions.

Young lady reading poetry about grief next to a lake following the death of a loved one

Poems about grief can give you a valuable opportunity to reflect on your lost loved one and slowly create some form of mental organisation from what you may believe to be your own muddled headspace.

Literary societies, such as The Poetry Foundation, allows users to search their website for poems that relate to a specific topic or keyword. Poems are even broken down into subcategories, so subcategories under grief and sorrow may include poems about the loss of a parent, the loss of a child, a grieving friend, regret and depression etc.

Which Famous Poets Have Written About Bereavement?

As grief and loss is something that everyone experiences across the world at various stages of their life, many talented poets have written pieces themed on the subject of bereavement.

A few of these famous poets and their grief-related poems are linked below for you to check out:

Edgar Allan PoeAnnabel Lee

William ShakespeareSonnet 71: No Longer Mourn For Me When I Am Dead

Henry Van DykeGone From My Sight

Alfred TennysonIn Memoriam A. H. H.

A poem about grief being written with a fountain pen

Poems about bereavement aren’t always full of sorrow and sadness.

Some written pieces, such as Hope is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson, take a brighter approach with a bird being used as a metaphor for hope. The short poem portrays hope following the loss of a loved one as being a useful tool that can be relied upon during difficult times.

Another example of grief-related poetry that takes a more uplifting approach is a popular poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye titled Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep. The poem is written in the voice of the departed, and reminds those reading that there is no need to mourn too deeply as the presence of those who we have lost still surrounds us in many other forms, such as the sun, rain, wind, snow, birds, and flowers.

Here at Ursells we offer a wide range of memorials to help you honour and remember your lost loved one as you see fit. We serve all areas across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with our compassionate team to find out more about how our memorial stonemasonry expertise can help by calling 01989 562 530, e-mailing info@ursells.co.uk or by completing our online contact form.

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