When Grief Knocks

When grief knocks on the door, we may fear that if we open the door, it will create discord, disorder, and constriction. There may be a back and forth between wanting/needing to let others in, and, closing down and wanting to be alone. We may feel that no one really understands what we’re experiencing and talking about it doesn’t seem to help. This vacillation is to be expected. This poem, by John O’Donohue, has been comforting to some.

For the Senses
John O’Donohue

May the touch of your skin
Register the beauty
Of the otherness
That surrounds you.

May your listening be attuned
To the deeper silence
Where sound is honed
To bring distance home.

May the fragrance
Of a breathing meadow
Refresh your heart
And remind you you are
A child of the earth.

And when you partake
Of food and drink,
May your taste quicken
To the gift and sweetness
That flows from the earth.

May your inner eye
See through the surfaces
And glean the real presence
Of everything that meets you.

May your soul beautify
The desire of your eyes
That you might glimpse
The infinity that hides
In the simple sights
That seem worn
To your usual eyes.


Published by Neilo@griefandpoetry

I am an interfaith chaplain who specializes in helping individuals navigate the often unstable and disorienting waters of grief and loss. My clients are often experiencing overwhelming heartache: on the tailwinds of divorce, the death of someone dear, or, from some other life-altering struggle. Others have been carrying loss and trauma for many years, and they suddenly experience an acute form of anxiety or anguish that pushes them to seek more effective strategies to cope.

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