Relentless Renewal

Springtime comes

And my baby will never be born.

Springtime comes

And the bush wren will never exist in the world again.

When my dreams have withered and can no longer breathe

When hope has become a wound, an insult.

Spring comes, relentlessly.

Uncaring and impossible.

It will never stop.

The soul that once lived in the song of that bird

The light I would have seen in the eyes of my child.

I am searching in the petals of this flower, the call of this bird.

Those who are not anywhere can perhaps be everywhere.

New things insist on becoming.


This impossible green light.

The veins of this new leaf glow in the sun.

My reluctant heart breathes it in.

Glories in it.

It will never stop.

If there is not hope in that,

there is not hope in anything.

The solace to be found in music

I’m sure that each one of you has, like me, a few go-to pieces of music which bring comfort when times are tough. I’d like to share a few pieces which bring me great comfort, in different ways.

Firstly, a beautiful song which a friend introduced me to a few years ago when I was in the depth of my grief. It never fails to make the tears flow, because it speaks so perfectly of the loss of dreams and the possibility of finding new dreams. And the singing is so pure and beautiful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

Another Train, by the Poozies. Written by Pete Morton.

The second piece is one I was lucky enough to learn in a choir I joined during the depths of my grief. The practice of learning, internalising, and then performing a piece of music really takes it to a much deeper level within you, until it becomes part of you. The sheer beauty of this music moves me every time I hear it. It brings great comfort.

Os Justi – Bruckner, Sacred Motets

Moving Forwards

A post for World Childless Week

During the deepest years of my grieving, I felt frozen. Time was ticking on, inevitably, but I was just frozen, stuck in despair and desperation. Lost.

I’d lost any sense of who I was, any purpose, and any hope. It felt like that was how it would always be.

But, having done a lot of grieving and faced some very desolate times, I now feel like something is finally changing for me.

I have realised that some of the coping mechanisms that I turned to in my grief have accidentally become important parts of the new life that I am living now.

One of the main things that I have by my side now is creativity. During my darkest moments I felt least understood by others, least heard and least seen; I knew that I was crying out for a way to express my pain, and I realised that I needed to try art as a means of expression. I was very scared of this, having always ‘known’ from my earliest years that I had no creative ability. But I was very motivated to try and learn how to express my own pain. I was so lucky: I managed to find a wonderfully gentle and supportive drawing teacher, who nurtured my learning, soothed my fears, and bolstered my very shaky confidence – and somehow managed to turn me into an ‘artist’! Nobody has been more surprised by this than me! But it gives me such comfort to know, now, that I have this to turn to when I need to express something. And it is more than that – for the first time in years I feel a sense of excitement and achievement in my own abilities. Who knows where this new path might lead me? It will be exciting to find out where this takes me.

Something else that I depended on in my grief was nature. I’ve always felt a sense of deep connection with the natural world, and I’m often deeply moved by the beauty that is all around us, just waiting to be noticed. What I hadn’t expected to find, though, was how interconnected the natural world was with my grief. It turns out that great comfort can be found while grieving with nature. Trees, grass, water, the sky, and animals can soak up endless quantities of tears, can listen to my story, absorb my rage, bear witness to my despair – and always provide solidity, reliability, and strength in return. And an important learning for me, in observing the continuous cycle of death, decay, renewal, rebirth of nature: whenever something dies, something else always, always comes to life.

This has unexpectedly fostered in me a sense of spirituality in nature, the holiness that lies within anything wild, and so my grief journey has become a journey of spiritual exploration, almost by accident. I certainly never intended that to happen, but that’s what it has become. I find myself, now, taking fresh steps along this path. I am delighted that I am walking, now, not just with grief but with curiosity, a sense of joy, and a kind of grateful excitement about whatever discoveries lie ahead in my future.

There have been many other gifts that I’ve found along the way, which I carry with my now, such as the pleasure to be found in silence, in stillness, in solitude. The joy of wild swimming or stargazing. The comfort of deep, vulnerable connection with someone who can allow themself to also be vulnerable with me. Singing and dancing (both of which scared me in my ‘before’ life). I am more open now to adventure now, to pleasure, to joy, to grief. I am more alive than I was before. I am actually much more ‘me’ than I was before – this is something that I feel very grateful to have discovered.

I do not think that I would necessarily have made any of these self-discoveries if I had been busy raising a family these past ten years. I would have other joys, other gifts in my life, no doubt, but I’m not sure that I would have these. So, I am choosing to be grateful, as I step towards whatever exciting things lie ahead.

Solace in Grief

One of the ways in which I have found solace in my own grief is through poetry. Here are a few of the poems that have given me the most comfort as I have moved through my own grief.

Photo by Daniel Mirlea on Unsplash

Adrift, by Mark Nepo

Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.

This is how the heart makes a duet of wonder and grief.

The light spraying through the lace of the fern

is as delicate as the fibers of memory

forming their web around the knot in my throat.

The breeze makes the birds move from branch to branch,

as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost in the next room,

in the next song, in the laugh of the next stranger.

In the very center, under it all,

What we have that no one can take away

and all that we’ve lost

face each other.

It is there that I’m adrift,

Feeling punctured by a holiness that exists inside everything.

I am so sad and everything is beautiful.

Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash

The Unbroken, by Rashani Reo

There is a brokenness

Out of which comes the unbroken,

A shatteredness

Out of which blooms the unshatterable.

There is a sorrow

Beyond all grief, which leads to joy.

And a fragility

Out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space, too vast for words,

Through which we pass with each loss.

Out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound

Whose serrated edges cut the heart

As we break open to the place inside

Which is unbreakable and whole,

While learning to sing.

Photo by Stanislava Stanchy on Unsplash

Let This Darkness be a Bell Tower by Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)

Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.

Let this darkness be a bell tower

and you the bell.

As you ring, what batters you becomes your strength.

Move back and forth into the change.

What is it like, such intensity of pain?

If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,

be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,

the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,

Say to silent earth, “I flow.”

To the rushing water, speak, “I am.”

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash