A Poem For the Grievers Out There

January 10, 2010 at 7:53 pm 18 comments

A fellow grieving mother sent me this poem the other day. Her son is buried very near to my Felicity. I visit him each time I go.

I know I haven’t written much about how I’m doing, grief-wise, in awhile. But it’s there, always, and some of it too deep, too painful to share here. Maybe I’ll get there someday.

In the meantime, you can read something that just recently made me cry tears of longing and joy and pain, all at the same time.

from The Seaside and the Fireside

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There is no flock, however watched and tended,
But one dead lamb is there!
There is no fireside, howsoe’er defended,
But has one vacant chair!

The air is full of farewells to the dying,
And mournings for the dead;
The heart of Rachel, for her children crying,
Will not be comforted!

Let us be patient!  These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
But oftentimes celestial benedictions
Assume this dark disguise.

We see but dimly through the mists and vapors;
Amid these earthly damps
What seem to us but sad, funereal tapers
May be heaven’s distant lamps.

There is no Death!  What seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portal we call Death.

She is not dead,–the child of our affection,–
But gone unto that school
Where she no longer needs our poor protection,
And Christ himself doth rule.

In that great cloister’s stillness and seclusion,
By guardian angels led,
Safe from temptation, safe from sin’s pollution,
She lives, whom we call dead.

Day after day we think what she is doing
In those bright realms of air;
Year after year, her tender steps pursuing,
Behold her grown more fair.

Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken
The bond which nature gives,
Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken,
May reach her where she lives.

Not as a child shall we again behold her;
For when with raptures wild
In our embraces we again enfold her,
She will not be a child;

But a fair maiden, in her Father’s mansion,
Clothed with celestial grace;
And beautiful with all the soul’s expansion
Shall we behold her face.

And though at times impetuous with emotion
And anguish long suppressed,
The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean,
That cannot be at rest,–

We will be patient, and assuage the feeling
We may not wholly stay;
By silence sanctifying, not concealing,
The grief that must have way.

Entry filed under: Felicity, Grief.

HELP! HELP! I think I’m stuck back in 2009… Want to participate with me in a grief study?

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Teresa  |  January 10, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Your heart will know her, and she will know you- what a joyful place heaven will be. I like the second to last stanza last. Thank you.

  • 2. Marla Taviano  |  January 10, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    So beautiful. Praying for your hurting heart. Love you!

  • 3. Jenny  |  January 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    That really is a beautiful poem. Made me go find out more about HWL and what his life was like. I’m guessing he wrote it after his own first daughter died at the age of 1. So sad… his words are beautiful and I’m glad you have them.

  • 4. nmwally  |  January 10, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    What a beautiful poem…thank you for sharing it.
    A couple of weeks ago a man at our church shared his testimony. He spoke strongly of so many difficulties he’s faced: the tragic loss of both of his parents in a car accident…losing his brother to leukemia…his own diagnosis of pancreatic cancer… The ONLY time he broke down, however, was when he talked about his son who was stillborn 20 years ago. That really struck me. It made me think of you and others I know who have faced what you have — how the grief must last unlike anything else.
    Bless you. What a wonderful promise that she is alive!!!

  • 5. Erika  |  January 10, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    beautiful. thank you for sharing…my heart is hurting tonight and this is lifting me up…



  • 6. Ruthie  |  January 11, 2010 at 12:49 am

    only someone who has lost can understand this. Thanks for sharing it.

  • 7. Cara Herzberg  |  January 11, 2010 at 2:35 am

    what grief. what hope.

  • 8. karla  |  January 11, 2010 at 8:58 am

    That was achingly beautiful. She is never far from any of our hearts and minds. We love her as we love you.

  • 9. Kendall  |  January 11, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Thank you Molly. It is as I imagine it… but so much better written. The hope of holding her someday… there are no words to describe how grateful I would be to Jesus.

  • 10. kathy  |  January 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Painfully beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Grief is a long journey. In prayer for you as you continue to travel it.

  • […] HT: Molly Piper […]

  • 12. Lisa notes...  |  January 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    My prayers are with you, too. Even though we grieve with hope, we still grieve. My little daughter would have been 16 last November had she lived. I still miss her.

  • 13. ebe  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    How heartbreakingly beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing.

    I’m so thankful we grieve with hope, and yes do we grieve.

  • 14. terry  |  January 11, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    All of us who have lost a child know these words- familiar to our hearts, whether we have uttered them or not. I am further down the road from you…. .. and the grief is not so fresh. And yet, similar to the man spoken of above– it can at times seem so vivid. Now though…. only gratitude for a faithful , loving God.

    Interesting, though — isn’t it- how we imagine our not-grown up children who have gone before us? “Fair maiden”– not a child? No “children “in Heaven???
    I have often dreamed of our little one running to us- ( though she was only a baby when she left) as a young child…
    But we will be known as we are known- and the best part is that whatever God ordains, it will be “more than we could ever ask or think”. We live in the shadowlands. Praise God!

  • 15. Steph  |  January 11, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    I am approaching the first anniversary of the stillbirth of my first baby, a precious little boy, on 23 January 2009.
    My second, beautiful son has just been born (on 5 January 2010) at 29 weeks plus 6 days because the same complications that killed my first baby had started to rear their ugly heads and so the decision was made to deliver by emergency ceasarean. He is a miracle baby (fearfully and wonderfully made – despite weighing just under 3lbs) and is progressing beautifully in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. He is a week old today. My husband and I are praising God for his protection and are believing Psalm 91 for our darling boy.
    Despite the amazing joy of this new birth I have cried many tears for my firstborn in this last week and this beautiful poem has set me off again. Our God is good and I know that one day I will behold my son’s face as a perfect, heavenly man I often dream of that day.
    Life is beautiful and it is a rich tapestry of joy and grief. I love the last line of this poem. Despite overwhelming joy, there is a grief that must have way.
    Thank you. I live in New Zealand (the ends of the earth to some!). I always read your blog and am always blessed by it.

  • 16. Debby  |  January 12, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I’m glad there was a thick washcloth on my desk when I read this. Tears, hugs and much love to you, Molly.

  • 17. Chris  |  January 12, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Beautiful…I’m grateful for gifts of words that speak across the miles and even through the centuries…

  • 18. Kate  |  January 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Wow, I really did not expect to read that and consequently burst into tears. But now that I have, I wonder if it’s even possible to get through it without crying! Very, very beautiful.


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