Losing you was the start
of the shedding of my skin
nothing is the same.
Author and poet D L Heather shares with us an excerpt from her latest works. Metamorphosis – A Collection of Haiku Poetry on Love, Grief & Healing – is a raw and moving account of the loss of her father.
What I learned about grief is that there is no destination. Steps and guides are fine but, grief doesn’t follow any structure. It’s about the healing that unfolds through your journey.
Metamorphosis is a journey, but like grief, it isn’t linear. It’s all over the place — a rollercoaster of thoughts, feelings and emotions told in haiku.
The sudden, unexpected, traumatic death of a loved one is something like having a limb torn off. Shocking. As if the air has been sucked from your lungs and you can’t manage another breath.
Pain makes an appearance, but it’s so raw and intense that it cannot be borne in full yet. Numbness, shock and disbelief choreograph a protective pattern that only allows pain to play a cameo role in the immediate aftermath of a near mortal blow.
The death leaves a gaping wound with grief flowing out, covering you and splashing onto all those around you. Some back away in fear, or distaste, as your grief spurts out, just as your blood would from a physical wound.
It feels deadly. You’re not sure you will survive. At times you hope you won’t. You wish you would disappear from life, like your loved one has, and that you would reappear wherever they are now. It doesn’t work like that. This deep, intense, raw pain feels fatal, but it’s not.
You keep breathing. One ragged, sobbing breath after another.
You try to find some comfort, wrapping yourself in a blanket or some piece of clothing that smells like them. You sip a glass of wine. Or perhaps something stronger, although that doesn’t really help. It just blurs the pain a little, until the substance wears off and you’re left with heartbreak and a hangover.
Battered by waves of grief washing powerfully over you
You stare, distracted, not seeing what’s in front of you. Instead, your mind is running through a turbulent gauntlet of regrets, shattered dreams and the sharp edges of memories that tear at your broken heart.
You try to reach out, to talk to others about how you feel, but most don’t understand. “It’s time to move on.” “He wouldn’t want you to be so miserable.”
So, you struggle, feeling alone. Battered by waves of grief washing powerfully over you, and you try to adjust to life without your loved one.
Breathe. Just keep breathing. When the pain is so intense, there is nothing you can do. Just breathe until you are ready for the next thing.
The wound will heal, though the scars remain. You will never be the same as you were before. Your broken heart will ache when memories blow over you just as a physical wound aches on a damp, cool day. In time, and with compassionate attention to the healing process, your grief will shift and you will learn how to carry it.
Be gentle with yourself. Don’t rush — you can’t hurry grief. Move through this process in your own way. In your own time, and know there is no wrong way to grieve.
Your grief is a reflection of your love.
A howling thunder
fall of the mighty redwood
— my father’s death.
Day bleeds into night
it all starts and ends the same
— rise says the moon.
She sees faces, young, old
happy, sad; screaming their stories
lives basted in tears.
Metamorphosis – Extended Edition by D L Heather is available to buy now.