Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Poem: "Silence Is the Answer"

Treasures are found when you least expect it.  Since Josh's passing, I have been on the lookout for an anthology of poems focused on loss, grief and recovery.  On a recent trip to Barnes & Noble, I found The Art of Loss: Poems of Grief & Healing (2010) edited by Kevin Young, a contemporary poet who realized the need for such a book when his father was killed in an accident.

In the introduction he writes about his own experience with grief and of the purpose of the book:
To lose someone close to you is to enter an experience no amount of forethought or hindsight can free you from.  You must live through grief.  You cannot outsmart it, nor think through the fact of someone's being gone, and forever.  You must survive the sorrow.  
To lose someone today is to go into strange realms of "bereavement specialists" and sympathy cards and funeral arrangements - things you suddenly realize have been going on for a good while, without you, in something of a parallel world.  The world of grief can feel like that, a limbo realm that at the least gives you a strong perspective on the everyday world: Why are all these people walking around, oblivious to loss?  Why am I still here while my loved one is not?  Surviving any death can carry its own guilt.  It also brings on a slew of cliches, often offered in lieu of sympathy, that can sometimes cause more anxiety than comfort.  It is hard to know what to say.  The poems here seek to avoid cliche, in order to say what needs to be said. 
I have gathered the poems in this anthology to reveal the many ways poets seek to find words and form to contain loss and to fulfill the reader's need for comfort and companionship in the words of another.  Often, in death, everything else fails.
He has divided the book into six sections which mourners may find themselves in at some point during their grief journey:  Reckoning, Regret, Remembrance, Ritual, Recovery and Redemption.   I plan to slowly read through the poems and share my thoughts on subsequent posts.  This is a good project to start in the New Year - our third, sans Josh.

I will end this post with a quick poem that I penned the night I started reading the book.

Silence is the Answer
by Sue Anderson

I can see him
in my mind's eye
healthy, happy boy!

What happened?
Where did he go?
What have I done?
What didn't I do?

And now I am left 
with an empty room and heart,
trying to understand,
trying to live.

Why him?
Why us?
Why me?

Silence is the answer.

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