It could be said that a thousand poets, a thousand balladeers, and some of the greatest literary writers concur:
Love and grief are an inescapable and bittersweet pair.Sarton's poem, titled for the day of alms giving and prayer on behalf of the dead, describes how losing a loved one will be a lifelong experience. We will "Remember and forget, forget, remember."
But rather than feel condemned to sorrow and longing, Sarton, like many other writers, describes the gift of memories and the softening of their edges, over time. A regret or lingering resentment becomes like the faint shadow from an old stain, and one may "feel new-cherished, new-forgiven."
Therefore, in grief, be patient with yourself and others. Accept the mystery and the gift of this inescapable twining. Perhaps you will agree:
"'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
Alfred Lord Tennyson
All Souls - May Sarton
Did someone say that there would be an end,
An end, Oh, an end, to love and mourning?
Such voices speak when sleep and waking blend,
The cold bleak voices of the early morning
When all the birds are dumb in dark November—
Remember and forget, forget, remember.
After the false night, warm true voices, wake!
Voice of the dead that touches the cold living,
Through the pale sunlight once more gravely speak.
Tell me again, while the last leaves are falling:
“Dear child, what has been once so interwoven
Cannot be raveled, nor the gift ungiven.”
Now the dead move through all of us still glowing,
Mother and child, lover and lover mated,
Are wound and bound together and enflowing.
What has been plaited cannot be unplaited—
Only the strands grow richer with each loss
And memory makes kings and queens of us.
Dark into light, light into darkness, spin.
When all the birds have flown to some real haven,
We who find shelter in the warmth within,
Listen, and feel new-cherished, new-forgiven,
As the lost human voices speak through us and blend
Our complex love, our mourning without end.
Care for yourself, care for each other. Thank you for caring!