Considering the grief of others

the grief of others
is one small step
on the path to

Considering the grief of others.png

can be elusive,
even when freely offered.
is a matter for the soul.

Joy is never
an alternative,
until recognized
as a state of being
with hidden aspects.

Only with understanding
and regard for
the inner turmoil
of another
is true empathy possible.

This quartet of poems is my first attempt at writing gogyohka, as my response to Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation #45 Gogyohka.
Gogyohka (pronounced go-gee-yoh-kuh) is *5-line poetry, similar to tanka but with no fixed syllable count and no conventions regarding content. Here is a link discussing gogyohka.

*Image size when I first posted this forced “understanding” in the last gogyohka/stanza into an extra line. I’ve corrected that.

Image source:

31 thoughts on “Considering the grief of others

  1. Sometimes while we were talking, especially at dinner, my mother would ask me to hold her hand for a minute or two. She was so lonely. Nearly everyone she knew was gone. The one thing she asked was that I wait to go until after she left. I am happy her wish was granted.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I like the tone here – not pushy, just a nudge toward considering the other w/o expecting instant “results” from whatever you’ve offered.
    I have a hunch that considering the grief of others also prepares us for our own inevitable grief(s).

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  3. A well-timed subject, Ken.
    When my big brother died of polio back in the 50s I understood that my parents were grieving but true empathy was beyond my experience. (I was five.) Only when I became a mom could I truly understand the depth of their grief. Yet still….it was only after losing one of my own sons that I could completely feel what they had felt. It seems the ability to imagine loss is the first step in empathizing. Experience seems to be the true teacher.

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    • Thank you, Betty.
      Experience – yes, indeed, of the kind no one hopes to experience. I have felt empathy for friends who have lost children, but I also was aware that I did not know the true anguish they were experiencing. Even so, I imagine it takes true strength to survive such an event.
      And there – “event” seems so inadequate, when it involves one life woven through another. It’s not something I want to know, firsthand.
      I’m sorry for digressing. You’re here, and for that I admire your strength.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your title is a Post all on its own, and hey this is the third post I’m reading in a row..about coping with loss, but yours talks of another’s, and I find that so rare; as if it were your own. If all the world would stop to think that way, how much healing there’d be. Im beginning to think, the healing of a wound is an event all its own, a Space in the next level. And a huge part of it is stopping to look out for one another this way. Just wow.

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  5. The last stanza…that inner turmoil of true. Even empathy has limits, for each person’s turmoil, though maybe the same or similar circumstances have occurred, is their own. We are so uniquely designed, yet with the same basic needs. It is those needs with which we empathize. Sympathy extends her heart, empathy, her soul, and still there is void none can fill.
    I have never heard of this poem form. Is it 5 line or 5 stanza? I should like to try it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, one can never know all that is in the mind of another, so empathy does have its limitations.
      The form of the poetry is 5 lines. This is my first attempt, and once I started writing I realizedIi had more than one stanza to say. Each of the stanzas could stand alone as a gogyohka, but I chose to keep them together to maintain a narrative.
      The link above, at the end of the post has an excellent discussion of the form.

      Liked by 1 person

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