101 Ways to Cope with Losing Elderly Parents # 15 ~ Grief

'The Good Old Sea'
‘The Good Old Sea’

There tends to be a sense of  sense of loss and grief   throughout the whole process from when one’s elderly parents first show signs of frailty to way beyond when they die.

Grief isn’t, by any means, a feeling that somehow starts at the moment of death and follows some sort of highway that leads to a town called All Done.

Grief varies in its intensity and takes many, many different forms but I think it’s fair to say that the place it is probably felt most is in the heart.

I really like this short poem by Australian poet, Michael Leunig,  which relates to degrees of  heartache and ways to cope with it:

When the Heart

When the heart
is cut or cracked or broken
Do not clutch it
Let the wound lie open
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt
And let it sting
Let a stray dog lick it
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell
And let it ring
(Michael Leunig)

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

18 thoughts on “101 Ways to Cope with Losing Elderly Parents # 15 ~ Grief”

  1. I can clearly recall feelings of anticipating or foreshadowing grief as I helped my parents through their final months of life. I agree that grief does not wait for death. The poem is quite beautiful and offers deep insight into our main task – to turn into the midst of our grief and open ourselves to the experience of being wounded and vulnerable so that we can find a way back into the world. Even now, some three years later, I am still learning from those wounds – and perhaps I always will. Perhaps some wounds become trusted mentors for the rest of our life.

    1. Thanks for such a thought-provoking response, Brian. I’m glad you found the poem insightful and that it resonated with you.
      I suspect you may be right that the wounds become trusted mentors for the rest of our lives. I hope you are!

    1. Hi Sheryl, I totally agree about the age issue and losing parents. My focus has been on elderly parents mainly because it is a subject that has been a bit of a Cinderella, mainly because it is deemed natural that older people die.

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful poem. I was brought up to never show my emotions. Well, that didn’t work very well after I lost my Dad. As soon as I was able to let it out and grieve, I felt much better.


    1. Many thanks for writing, Nancy, and for sharing what may well be extremely useful words from which others can learn. Really sorry you had to learn the hard way about what was best for you after. the death of your father. Jx

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