I was really touched by the latest email on grief, the one with Eric Clapton and his son Connor who died aged four years old. How hard that must have been and no doubt still is. You asked for people to respond with poems, suggestions so here goes.
In recent years I’ve taken to writing poems so when my Mom passed away last year I wrote and read “Fearless Bright and Brave” at her funeral along with her eulogy. The last funeral I’d attended was for a friend who had committed suicide, her funeral though left me with a feeling that the person I’d known in life had not been
Sylvia as a child
accurately reflected in the service and that an opportunity to share my friends beauty and strength in her fight against depression had sadly been omitted and in some way some part of this brilliant woman’s life was denied and swept under a carpet whether due to social stigma and shame or just a misguided sense of duty, I don’t know. Instead they painted a portrait using only white and left out all the shadows, and so what they painted was a formless rendering with no depth, no character, just a sort of whitewash.
This in mind, I really wanted to make sure that even though I expected a low turnout for my mother’s funeral, that my mother’s life and her personality were conveyed in all its glory, both dark and light. My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 11 years old. She battled with it for the rest of her life, a good forty years. During that time she attempted suicide a couple of times, the last attempt just over two years ago. I can’t begin to tell you the hardships, especially with no father around. Anyway, to cut along story short, as the only child it came to me and I wrote this poem as part of my eulogy to my mother.
For me separating my mother, Sylvia, from her illness made no sense. It was such a huge part of her life. She really hated the drugs and so often wouldn’t take them. And so as we know family and friends drop away, social circles become very small or non-existant and life becomes caught in cyclical hospitalisation. But, it wasn’t all doom and gloom she was a stylish and very intelligent woman and she had a brilliant sense of humour. So it was for me important to remind folk that the best parts of Sylvia had endured to the end and inspite of her illness these parts of her personality though at times fragmented they were never vanquished, infact quite the opposite. In her latter years she took up painting and made a good go of it. Its important to remind folk of these things.
Well anyways, I hope you can make use of this, here follows the poem I wrote.
Fearless Bright and Brave
Fearless Bright and Brave
White gold breast plate
Death the great
The finest weave from
A soul birthed newly from
A bright being
A soul flying home
Song of youth
Playing at your heels