Writing poetry for grief and healing is as old as art itself! What every writer, artist, and spiritual guide has always found out is that every path that leads to growth and joy is paved with struggle and grief. And that is why they included this first-hand knowledge in their messages to humanity in art and inspiration.
As we live in duality, highs are always predicated by experiencing the lows, and to know true joy, we have had to experience sorrow. Contrast is the key to awareness, after all, and if you are looking to heal in order to transcend suffering, know that the best of the best who have walked the earth became who they were because of their suffering – not despite it.
Given my penchant for calligraphy, I illustrated the following 5 poems a handful of years ago as a part of my own healing process. I hope they provide you with as much healing energy as they provided me during those long hours of creation – pouring love and appreciation for poetry on healing and transcendence and devoting myself to the artistic craft.
And always remember, in the words of the magnificent mystic Rumi, “the Wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
Still Here by Langston Hughes
Water Lily by Rainer Maria Rilke
I Have Learned So Much by Hafiz
All Things Are Current Found by Henry David Thoreau
O Me! O Life! By Walt Whitman
The Power of Words to Heal
Many healing modalities – especially art therapy – recommend poetry for grief and healing. One of the reasons poetry is so nourishing to human emotions is precisely because it is emotional in nature. It relates to our need to heal from the depths of our being and mirrors a sense of being seen by another. Poetry can also share transformative moments or revelations. It can inspire us and call us to look into the depths of issues that have been weighing heavily on our shoulders.
Most of all, it can relate to us so profoundly, that it can feel as though we are exchanging moments of vulnerability with another. This recognition of the universality of our plight gives us hope that yes, we are not suffering in vain and that yes, like all the other brave souls before us, we will live to tell our stories as a badge of honor to inspire others who will be nourished by our own words.
Reading and writing poetry is speaking the language of the soul in almost a meditative tone that listens closely to what’s hidden within. It is a profound experience of acknowledging someone else’s or one’s own humanity, making the experience of interacting with poetry truly healing and transformative!
In his published paper, Finding the Words to Say It: The Healing Power of Poetry, Robert Carroll describes the healing power of words as such:
Our voices are saturated with who we are, embodied in the rhythms, tonal variations, associations, images and other somato-sensory metaphors in addition to the content meaning of the words. Our voices are embodiments of ourselves, whether written or spoken. It is in times of extremity that we long to find words or hear another human voice letting us know we are not alone.
And creating poetry is in itself a cathartic experience! In fact, expressive writing has been studied in psychology as a means to better regulate emotional responses and better deal with negative emotions. In the research article, The Writing Cure, the researchers conclude that:
…expressive writing can facilitate adjustment to stressors through emotion regulation mechanisms. Research in psychiatry, as well as clinical, health, and social psychology, supports the proposition that emotion dysregulation-either excessive or inadequate control over emotional experience, physiology, and behavior-has inimical effects on mental and physical health. Findings presented in this chapter suggest that expressive writing influences attention and habituation to stressful stimuli and to negative emotions and that it may influence restructuring of cognitions related to stressors and stress responses.
Undoubtedly, reading and writing poetry is a truly healing process, as it helps validate our feelings and pain, makes us feel seen, helps us regulate our emotions, and encourages us to transcend our current suffering.
If you were looking for poetry for grief and healing, I hope you found some wise words in these poems and my words that encourage you to read and write more poetry as a part of your healing process. Don’t worry about having the right technique or making poetry fit any standard, simply write from your feelings and heart and let the words carry you where they may.
The point is to express the feelings that you feel in a safe space so that you don’t hold them in. Holding in emotions without processing them is very harmful to health, and repressed emotions are known to instigate health conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
So, read on and write daily! Let your feelings and emotions take you where you need to go to feel better, more empowered, and strong.
And if you need any help with strengthening your physical, emotional, and mental bodies with foods and lifestyle, here are a few of my articles you’ll find helpful: