Saturday, 1 October 2011

What Can We Ask Of Others?

A friend on Facebook posted this poem today. Often, people post poems or affirmations and they strike me as too sentimental, too Pollyanna-ish or, in some other way, they simply don't 'speak' to my soul. This one was different though and it had a powerful impact.

I'm guessing, without doing any research, that it was written in response to the death of a loved one. However, I was immediately struck by how it applied to chronic illness and to what I have previously written about grief and acceptance.

I truly wish I had known these words when things were really bad for me. When I couldn't get out of bed for months on end and when I couldn't articulate what I needed from others.

Perhaps those who are still facing those struggles will find a use for this poem and can use it to let others know what they really need. Or, perhaps it will simply be a source of personal comfort for them. Either way, it feels worth sharing.

Please Be Gentle

Please be gentle with me for I am grieving.

The sea I swim in is a lonely one

and the shore seems miles away.

Waves of despair numb my soul

as I struggle through each day.

My heart is heavy with sorrow.

I want to shout and scream

and repeatedly ask “why.”

At time, my grief overwhelms me

and I weep bitterly,

so great is my loss.

Please don’t turn away

Or tell me to move on with my life.

I must embrace my pain

before I can begin to heal.

Companion me through tears

And sit with me in loving silence.

Honor where I am in my journey

Not where you think I should be.

Listen patiently to my story.

I may need to tell it over and over again.

It’s how I begin to grasp the enormity of my loss.

Nurture me through weeks and months ahead.

Forgive me when I seem distant and inconsolable.

A small flame still burns within my heart

And shared memories may trigger

both laughter and tears.

I need your support and understanding.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

I must find my own path.

Please, will you walk beside me?

By Jill B. Englar


  1. Of course it resonates because when you're hit by a chronic illness you are grieving for the loss of a loved one....the 'one' you were..and just like any grief process it goes on and on but surfaces less and less as you learn to adapt.

    You learned relatively quickly. Others take longer. We all move at our own the pace that suit us best

  2. Dear B, I have been living over 17 years with this chronic condition, and this poem resonates for me as if time stood still. Maybe time is relative, or non-existent, and all of this is happening at once, though it feels like endless moments... (One tends to think about these philosophical questions when home for years practicing how to "be" vs. how to "do"...) It is stunning to me how deep these emotions go and yet how easily they can be brought back to the surface. As you know, I do believe the experience has made me a better person - but difficult things often do that. I sure thought the grief was gone, but I guess grief and enlightenment might, quite literally, be strange bedfellows for those of us in this place...

  3. I totally agree with you Barry. It resonated with me on a myriad of levels. Having lost my pug 10 months ago, I felt it from the grieving aspect of that.

    But all the losses that come with ME or any other chronic illness definitely have the same emotional losses and questions.

    Thanks for sharing it. I'm glad I was able to read it.

    I sent your post everywhere! (smile)