The AVBOB Poetry Competition | Memorial Poems Can Be a Healing Salve for Both Writer & Audience

How Memorial Poems Can Be a Healing Salve for Both Writer and Audience

Mere words could never undo the death of someone held dear. There is no going back in time, rectifying moments passed, or calling anyone back from the grave. This is precisely why grief often ushers in a fog of heavy silence – despite all the deafening gestures of sympathy. Loss is just louder. This immobilisation of soul and body is sometimes due to shock, or such deep sorrow that one may give up trying to communicate things to the world and themselves.

Silence also breeds isolation, the feeling that nobody else in the world understands just how great the weight of despair is. In such times, it helps to realise that we are not solitary in grief, nor can we claim a monopoly on suffering. Here, we see that memorial poems are more than shiny words – they bridge the divide between our grief and the grief of others.

Why Connection in Grief is So Important

The hackneyed adage that no man is an island has some truth to it – human beings are social creatures by design, and we are optimised for relationships. We see this in the way we match the emotions of others unconsciously, mirror their behaviour, and feel the strong need to belong. Traumatic events, such as the passing of a loved one might leave one feeling isolated for a time, and this is understandable as people must work through grief in ways that help them. It is always comforting, however, to learn that others might be feeling the same way.

It is reassuring when one becomes aware that loss is hard for most people, and that while it is normal and universal, it is also quite a strange concept with which to grapple. Connection during loss can come in many forms – telling someone you are thinking of them, offering a meal, or sitting in silence with them. Memorial poems, especially, are brave, lit beacons that draw kindred souls in pain and unify them in their grief.

What Are Memorial Poems?

Art reflects what has been, what is, and what could be. It is the passionate, desperate, humorous, or even ugly dance between reality and imagination. Poetry is a powerful form of art because it plays with words in a way society rarely does – honestly. The best poems are authentic and offer a unique look into the human psyche, with all its shortcomings, anguish, and genuine desires. This emboldens us to express ourselves more honestly too, and this is always meaningful in the grieving process.

Memorial poems are not just truthful. They are possessed by the past and are often read aloud at memorials or gatherings of loved ones in mourning. They can be a part of a tribute or prayer. They can be used in a eulogy or given out as keepsakes at a funeral. They are a bright flare sent up during the dark night of the soul. And while they might not always bring endless comfort or hope, they do let us know our heartbreak is shared.

There Is No Pressure to “Move On”

Writing or reading memorial poems for a loved one who has passed on will probably not offer complete healing or closure. Grief is far too legitimate and sacred to be shrugged off so easily. Poetry can, however, begin the process of healing. It can help us to express our goodbyes, cementing beautiful memories in our minds, and inviting others to remember the good times with us.

Going forward, one might even be told it is time to “get over” the loss, or that it is best to leave the past in the past. It is important to remember, though, that suppressed emotions often spill out in unhealthy ways. Cathartic expression in the form of memorial poetry writing (as often as one needs it) helps us to explore our loss, regrets, gratitude, and mortality salience. In a way, it is a viable grounding technique that promotes self-soothing and the ability to manage our overwhelming emotions.

If you understand what it is to lose someone close, then our community of talented local poets may inspire you on your journey to healing. With thousands of poems (in all 11 official languages) on topics, such as love or death, you will find suitable memorial poems to inspirit your own writing process.