Your Grief is not Fashionable

A Poem by Paul Chubbuck

Have you noticed how talk fades
if we dare to share our deepest grief?

Those who don’t turn away say,
“she’s in a better place now,”
“it’s for the best,”
“there’s other fish in the sea,”
“this too shall pass,”
which means they have no salve for the wound which ails us.

So we learn to bear alone the grief unbearable
which demands we freeze behind our eyes the tears
for the lover gone with their scent from our arms;
for the unborn children who will never laugh;
for the deeds we’ve left undone from fear;
for the genuine we hid beneath the merely pleasing.

How my breath tightens and an ache fills my chest.

Who here knows of what I speak?
Who hides such regrets, secret and deep?

Then why must we pretend all is well,
smiling fashionably, suffering silently,
propping up each others’ doubts,
or our own?

All is not well.

What if the pretense were to end?
What if we wept together till strength waned?
What if we beheld each other’s grief
and spoke no more of “story” in tones maligning,
as if we feared it as contagious as the plague?

What if your doubt saw my darkness,
and my regret befriended your despair?
What if we heard every story,
felt the ache each carries neath their sometimes rigid smile
and released our hardened faces into grief?

Would we then fall towards ceaseless sorrow as we’d feared?

Or perhaps twas never words, nor cries of grief
which drew misfortune to us,
but instead, the very squelching of those cries;
the rending, heart from mind,
which made a plea for help seem like a whine
and held the pressure of a magma in our bellies.

Is there a chance grief shared,
instead of doubling mischance,
may instead unbind each other’s wings
and let us fly together to a higher perch?

Then your tears, mixed with mine, may soften barren Earth enough to sprout new hope
and melt away grief’s armor into grace.

Do you have private questions about the body-mind connection or about recovering from trauma, loss, or abuse? Click here to leave me a private message.

Paul Chubbuck is a practicing psychotherapist in Fort Collins, CO, using Somatic Experiencing® to help people release trauma, abuse, and loss. He may be reached at 970-493-2958 or through his website at

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    • In the current version of the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual, the DSM-V, apparently we humans are now only allowed to grieve for two weeks. After that, if we are still sad, or observed to be so, those in power or seen as authority figures (often those employed in the medical field) might determine us “abnormal.” This could lead to further consequences, such as a diagnosis of a disease called “depression.” The disease model is a problem, since the disease begs to be fixed or eradicated, rather than run its course.

      Two weeks? Now what? The time limit is over. Grief, which otherwise would be shared lovingly within one’s family or community, is now a disease to be sent away, limited to a specialist in an office, or worse, put on drugs or even incarcerated in a mental hospital.

      • Truly absurd and abusive. Thanks for your comment.