Poetry Friday: Lamenting May

Welcome to Poetry Friday! I am honored (and a little nervous!) to be hosting our gathering this week. In the time I have spent sharing my poems and reading the incredible poetry by everyone who gathers here, I have made many new friends who have inspired me in my writing. My post today has a more somber mood, and I thank you in advance for letting me share my story with you.

I have always looked forward to the month of May with a great deal of anticipation. While the first official day of spring came in March, it really isn’t until May that we begin to see and feel the evidence of spring. The grass finally turns green, an array of fragrant blossoms adorn the trees, and warmer days beckon short sleeves, capris, and sandals.

As I approach May now, my spirit lacks the same enthusiasm. My mother’s birthday is May 1st, with Mother’s Day following not long after. Her death in 2016 was the beginning of my downcast attitude for the month of May. Last year I tried to approach May Day (May 1st) with a celebratory heart, sharing a May Day basket and spreading joy of the spring season with others in my mom’s memory. This helped some, but the ache from her loss remained.

As this May approached, I could feel the familiar sense of sorrow begin to return. This year though, it was a much deeper ache with a greater sense of sadness. On May 25 of last year, my older brother succumbed to an unexpected cardiac arrest while riding his bike in Glacier National Park. The utter devastation from this loss took our family on a journey we were completely unprepared for. Despite our sorrow through the experience, we experienced God’s abundant comfort and grace, believing that he has a greater plan despite our sorrow.

I have found a great deal of comfort in music, specifically worship music. My poem today is a golden shovel. To write a golden shovel poem, the writer chooses a line from another poem, and places each word from that line (in order) as the ending word in each of the lines in a new poem. This reimagining becomes a new poem with new meaning.  Nikki Grimes made the form popular with her book One Last Word.

The line I’ve taken is from a song that has been especially meaningful to me in my journey through grief –  “Is He Worthy?” written by Andrew Peterson and performed by him along with Chris Tomlin. You can listen to the song in its entirety here if you like.

There are unexpected experiences that do
not announce to you
their arrival. I don’t know
when they are coming or that
they will pull all
I am anchored to right out from the
stable ground I am standing on. The dark
overtakes, leaving me believing I won’t
find my way back. Grief feels like it will never stop.
I can’t imagine ever rediscovering the
joy I once felt. Yet You remain, revealing a beacon of light
that gently comforts and continually reminds me that from
the greatest place of loss and the darkest of days, getting
to the other side means walking through
a journey where we
must lean into healing that only You can do.

Mom with brother Don, 2015.

I hope you will join me and the rest of my Poetry Friday friends by sharing a poem or simply reading the poetry from others through the link-up button below. I look forward to hearing from all of you!

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55 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Lamenting May

  1. Dani, I am so sorry for your loss. Your poem conveys the grief and solace so many of us experience. April is like this for me since it is the month when my mother died a couple of years ago. On the anniversary of her death family get together to eat peanut buster parfaits, my mom’s favourite treat. June 1st would have been her 86th birthday. That’s another hard one. I hope, in time, you find a way to joyfully celebrate both of these important people in you life.

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    • What a beautiful tradition you share to remember your mom. My mom loved those DQ treats too! I think these kinds of fun get togethers to remember our loved ones are a wonderful way to find joy amidst the sorrow.

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  2. Linda Mitchell says:

    Oh, my goodness. I like to say that I’m thankful I only had to go through losing one mother. It’s a grief that I haven’t yet really put into words. But then, to lose a brother too. That sounds like a tidal wave. I’m so glad that music is a solace to you. A very dear friend of mine is a music therapist and her loving gift of music during my mother’s passing gave us so much peace. I pray that you will close out May with at least one joyous new memory to build on….not to cover or forget your loss…but to build on for a continued journey. Thank you so much for hosting this week…especially this month. I have solved a mystery of an old photo that led to a pantoum….over on A Word Edgewise.

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    • Thank you for your heartfelt words, Linda. And I actually will close out May on a high note..a little bittersweet though—our last of four daughters graduates from high school May 31! Life goes on despite the unexpected losses, and I know that while I’ll be missing my mom and brother’s presence for the celebrating, I know they are with us in our hearts. Joyous memories to build on…I love that!

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  3. So sorry for the loss of your mother and brother. Your golden shovel is beautifully written, acutely conveys your grief and is a wonderful testament of faith. April is the same way for me, as I lost both my parents in April (my Dad 4 weeks ago). Thank you for hosting this week.

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    • I too share my sympathies for your recent loss. Grief is a deeply personal journey that we all must walk through. Writing this post and sharing my story is one way I continue to process the loss. Hang on as you continue to remember your parents …I hope that you will find joy in the memories despite the pain.

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  4. Thank you for hosting, Dani, and for sharing your beautiful golden shovel poem. Certain anniversaries are tough, no matter how many years have passed. Wishing you peace as you remember your mom and brother.

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  5. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes says:

    That’s a lot to be sad about in one month, Dani. My heart is reaching out to you as you take the time you need to process all the difficult emotions. I’m glad you have music and poetry to help with the healing. You’ve written a beautiful poem—heartfelt and hopeful.

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    • Thank you Michelle. In a few lines I really tried to convey the journey of grief I’ve been through. Writing is a very helpful way to process it all. I’m so appreciative of everyone’s kindness.

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  6. Dani, loss is painful and yours is a heavy burden but walking through the journey leaning on faith is what helps us get through the moments (as you aptly share in your faith-filled golden shovel.) May your happy memories remain in your heart so that healing can continue.
    I have been out to dinner and the theater with friends so I hope to have my PF offering by tomorrow.

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  7. Rebecca Herzog says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. To lose a loved one is always hard, but to have both anniversaries so close together would be so difficult. Your golden shovel is beautiful. I hope that you are able to find small moments of joy to celebrate both your mother and brother as the month ends. Thank you for hosting the roundup.

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  8. Dani, thank you for sharing your story with us and that beautiful golden shovel. Anniversaries of loss can be so difficult. My mother’s father was buried on her birthday…such rough timing.
    Congrats to your daughter on her graduation. Our youngest is also graduating from high school this spring. And thanks for hosting.

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    • Thank you, Tabatha. We never get to pick the timing of loss. Our third daughter’s graduation fell last year admidst my brother’s death. Navigating the loss while celebrating her was not easy.

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  9. maryleehahn says:

    May will always resonate for you with full measures of both bitter and sweet. You will forever be reminded of your losses even as the world comes to spring fullness. You will live the metaphor of life and loss…but keep making beautiful art/writing from your feelings. Your poem rings so true for all of us who have lost/will lose loved ones. Thank you for sharing both your poem and your story. I hope the love we pour your way will help your heart heal!

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    • Oh Marylee, the love I am feeling from the PF family has sustained me in what could have been a very difficult weekend. Thank you for your words – they comfort and encourage me so much.

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  10. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, Dani – I can’t imagine how difficult it is, but it’s good to know you have your faith to help hold you. God is there, even if we wonder if He’s watching sometimes. Chris Tomlin has a great voice, too, and has some powerful songs…and your golden shovel personalizes his lyrics and adds a new depth. Thanks for hosting!

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  11. Lamenting–what an old-fashioned, beautiful word. Our racy get-it-done culture has all but done away with grieving and lamenting, with the time it takes to live through loss. I’m hurting with you, Dani, and supporting your right, your need, to sorrow through May for as long as it takes. We honor our lost loved ones by dwelling on them for a while, even a long while.

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    • Thank you Heidi! Grief is a deeply personal, isn’t it? There is no right way or wrong way, but you’re right about our rush rush culture that doesn’t always honor the time one needs to take to process loss. Your words ring true!

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  12. Dani, what a beautiful post. I lost my mom in 2016, as well. I grieve, but knowing what a full and relatively long life she had helps. The idea of losing one of my sisters feels unbearable. And a friend just lost her college-age daughter recently in a horrible accident. So loss and grief has been occupying my mind a lot lately. Thank you for your heartfelt golden shovel poem, and hugs to you. You are almost through May. Sometimes just getting through is a victory.

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  13. Sending love and light, Dani – thank you for sharing your post and poem. (And thank you for rounding up today!) Prayers for comfort and healing for you and your family, especially here in May. (We will be gathering with my husband’s family this weekend to have a small service with his mother’s ashes; she died in February.) We have to savor each day, don’t we?

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  14. I’ve posted a poem titled FACING IT by Yusef Komunyakaa in honor of all of our veterans who have served during wartime–including my father who served in the army during WWII. I’ll be thinking of him this weekend.

    Thanks for doing the roundup this week!

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  15. This is a beautiful tribute to your loved ones, Dani. I am truly sorry for your loss. Music can be uplifting and bring joy to our hearts. Thank you for sharing your poem and your heart with us.

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  16. haitiruth says:

    Oh Dani, I’m so sorry! The song where you got your quote for your (wonderful) golden shovel poem has been enormously important to me lately, too. Sending prayers for you. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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  17. Dani, your golden shovel is so poignant. I’m so sorry for your losses. I pray that as the Mays come and go, your sadness and grief will lessen. The picture you shared is beautiful. May the memories of your Mom and brother bring you comfort.Thank you for hosting this week.

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  18. Dani, thanks for sharing your golden shovel poem. I love that poetic form. And your poem is so moving. I’m sorry for the loss of your Mom and brother. But thank you for sharing your experiences. And thanks for hosting, too. (I enjoyed the song, too)

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  19. Dani, I’m so sorry for your losses. “Grief feels like it will never stop” is so true, and yet, we find our way back to daily life. Friendship, faith, art, and music make this journey easier, as your beautiful poem shows. Thank you for sharing it, and thank you for hosting.

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