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What Grief Is Like: A Poem about How Grief Changes You

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What Grief Is Like: A Poem about How Grief Changes You

Grief hurts. It’s not even the pain of the tragedy itself that I'm talking about, but what comes after -- to hold you, to give you something to hold on to when all else feels lost.

As a society, we tend to label grief as bad, badgering it into being innately wrong when, in fact, it’s proof that we’ve lived and loved. Really lived, really loved: the experience we’re here for.

It’s not easy work, but my work embraces grief as part of LIFE, not just death. It’s a grand piece of your healing, a constant reminder that you can’t pretend away your feelings.

It can feel like you’re living in a shadow, a deep sea of haze, but one that “still lets the light through.”

It’s not just death, but life. Not just darkness, but light. As if the universe itself was a complex being, with emotions and tides and shifting edges.

Grief changes with the seasons yet remains unchanged by the passage of time. Like you’re changed by the things that happen to and around you, yet inside there’s something that stays the same. There’s a you-ness that doesn’t wilt.

While grief lasts a lifetime, thankfully, love lasts just as long… if not longer.

Here’s a poem about what grief is like, then and now, as I know it.

It’s about the wreckage, the being washed away and remade in a new way. If it resonates with you, I’d love for you to tell me.

Grief hurts. It can feel like wreckage, like being washed away and remade in a new way. We can label grief as bad, badgering it into being innately wrong when, in fact, it’s proof that we’ve lived and loved. Really lived, really loved. This poem embraces grief as part of LIFE, not just death, and essential to healing.

What Grief Is Like ~ A Poem

It is the image of undoing,

the internal tide

that returns upon itself to erase

the very shore.

It is a cool stream of sympathy

that leaves you shaking once it’s passed.

Like mist, it haunts you in its waking,

this memory, a nightmare never shaken.

It covers all things, waiting

for your every turn.

It holds all things, like a promise

fulfilled, for it is the constant denial of

never having lived.


Groundless, hopeless, wordless.


The last bit of you gives way.

Every cell of your body, awash

with a grief that now holds you,

a new existence to house your soul.

It carries you through seasons.

It folds and unfolds as the clouds do.

It is earth, sky, air, water, fire.

It is a midnight, solaced,

still letting the light through.


And as you move closer,

as it enclosed you,

you see a new face on this body

of grief. You see

you have not been defeated.

Your surrender was of glory and grace,

a place of new growth, the spirit

of cosmic change.

It was your own crossing over.

It was made part of you and you,

made new.

This is a grief longing to be held.

This, the mood of the universe.

. . .

My print picks of the week:

  1. Wear your scars to show how a phoenix is born from ashes and hope.
  2. I have not heard your voice in years, but my heart has conversations with you every day.
  3. ... in the middle of everything, there's love.

Tell me:

Can you resonate with this poem? Which part really hits home for you?

Tell me in the comments. I read every single one, and I’d love to know what you think. It might be exactly what someone else needs to read, and it might inspire the next thing I make.

~ Jen

P.S. Need something to help carry you (or a friend) through the hardest times? Go visit my shop for handwritten poetry prints, books, and more.

Grief hurts. It can feel like wreckage, like being washed away and remade in a new way. We can label grief as bad, badgering it into being innately wrong when, in fact, it’s proof that we’ve lived and loved. Really lived, really loved. This poem embraces grief as part of LIFE, not just death, and essential to healing.

Comments on this post (2)

  • Jul 02, 2019

    Thank you, Michelle :) That means so much to me. Sat Nam

    — Jennifer Williamson

  • Jul 02, 2019

    While grief lasts a lifetime, thankfully, love lasts just as long… if not longer.

    I love this just as much, if not more than the poem. Thank you, sat nam 🙏🏽

    — Michelle

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