…I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
[Mary Frye, 1932]
A beautiful poem, which unfortunately I’ve had occasion to copy out into cards of sympathy twice in as many weeks. Death’s one of nature’s certainties, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a shock to us when it occurs. Whether we knew the deceased or not, death still strikes a chord with most of us, reminding us of our own mortality.
That’s the rub, isn’t it? Death is always hardest on those who are left behind. However tragic or painful a person’s demise, at the end of the day death is a natural end to their suffering. What of those who die young? You may well ask that question, but I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that death comes when it’s your time – whether you feel it is, or not.
So what of the mourners, the bereaved, who are left behind to pick up the pieces? Everyone deals with grief in their own way; sometimes they accept what has happened and move on quickly, but for others grief can be an all-consuming emotion that overwhelms them.
That’s why, really, I’ve started putting this poem into the cards I send in sympathy. To remind people, if they need reminding, that people only really die if you let them – if you continue to think of them with love, then their love can be found all around you. Let them move on in peace, because as long as you have your memories of them, they’ll always be with you.