On January 20th, 2021 a precocious 22-year-old African -American woman told a divided and grief-stricken nation “We can grow as we Grieve”.
I like most people was awe-struck by her profound wisdom that far exceeds her youth. My purpose in writing is to examine her poem as she speaks to us about grief and sheds “light” on how we can move forward. The words of the youngest Poet Laureate I believe echo in the heart and mind of a Widower.
She states that “We carry a loss and wade in a sea”. Is that not the feeling each one of us had when we lost our spouses? We were like ships tossed around by a sea of extremely high waves and endless winds. Our pain, our loss and our grief left us rudderless and wondering how we would ever get back on course and move forward.
How do we progress from grief I think is the question she is asking? What path do we need to follow to move forward? Think of another image she evokes in the title of her poem: “The Hill We Climb”.
Each of us I believe she is implying either young or old is at the base of the hill. We feel unprepared to climb that hill. We don’t know what skills we need to climb this hill. Do we have the right clothing and equipment to climb up that Hill? Does the hill look insurmountable?
Yes, at first, but if we look around and see who is standing on the hill with us, we gain a slight sense of relief. Our fellow Widowers are scatted all over the hill.
Some are at the base handing us clothing, supplies and other equipment. Others are several hundred feet ahead; slightly longer in the journey but available to guide, help or lend a hand as we move to a new level. Farther up the hill are the veterans: men who walked the path longer, suffered more scars and share how they made progress and what their new life looks like. They are the messengers of hope. They calmly and gently bring solace and peace to the new brothers.
As we look at the hill the gifted young poet tells us “that despite our hurt, we never lost hope”. Even as “we grew tired, we never stopped trying”. Our past has shaped and formed us. Our wives chose us to be their spouses and helped to mold us into men who built lives based on love and faith. A foundation that would not crack.
The products of our love: our children be they young or adults need us to guide them as they travel a different hill. As they prepare for the future, they are also affected by grief but moving forward in whatever paths they chose to purse in their lives. Our children look to us for guidance in navigating a new path.
We were not prepared as the poet wrote: “for the terrifying experience that shook us to our core”. The death of our spouses put is in a very frightening and overwhelmingly uncomfortable place. Despite this powerful loss we are as the Poet wrote: “somehow finding the power to author a new chapter in our lives”. To quote Fred Colby; “Life will never be the same again”. It is not said as a life sentence but as an opportunity to realize we cannot change our past; we can’t re-write or edit it. Unfortunately, we cannot rewind the clock. The new me or you is what we will encounter with help as we climb the Hill.
We will as Amanda Gorman writes; “Step out of the shades of grief”
We will always carry our memories; the legacy of love that formed our lives and the gifts our spouses gave us so freely and unconditionally.
As the youngest Inaugural poet wrote “If only we are brave enough to see the light; Brave enough to be the light”
Brothers I am eight months into the journey of a Widower. I would not be making progress and moving forward if I did not join the Widowers Support Network.
A fraternity of over 1300 men who are united by the fact that we lost of our beloved spouses and walk the path of a Widower. We are all “Climbing the Hill”.
We have been given the opportunity to “step out of the shade; unafraid and aflame with a desire to see and be the light”. Take the steps