Funeral Blues(Song IX, from Two Songs for Hedli Anderson)Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.- W. H. Auden (1907-1973)Listen to John Hannah read Auden's poem in the film "Four Weddings and a Funeral."
Loss overpowers you, and the world as you have known it has ended. Annoyingly, the sun rises the next morning.
A sister is laid off after 25 years when retirement was just on the horizon; but the moon still waxes and wanes, the tides move in, and out.
Your high school best friend's husband is imprisoned for embezzling senior citizens out of their retirement savings, just when your friend's two younger daughters are in high school and the eldest begins college - yet the maples bud red after the long winter.
Another friend's entire family - his wife, children and parents - are killed in a single car crash. That night the Big Dipper shines in exactly the same formation, full to the brim with midnight blue.
When it feels like the world has stopped, what consolation is there? Truth is, your heart isn't open to comfort.
But then it comes suddenly in spite of yourself. Something ridiculous makes you laugh. A flower turns winter to spring. A piece of Art opens a vent in the fist of your heart. A color, or two colors juxtaposed, breathe life into you. Musical notes take you by surprise the way they are strung together, and their melody and rhythm defy time and space. They dance when you couldn't. A loved one's words of praise after a long silence soften the harshness around you. Or a stranger's words speak your mind and heart so precisely you find comfort that someone, sometime, has felt your anguish and was able to speak it for you to find one day.
I say to you and to myself: Receive it. The constancy of some constant thing. It is there, just as real as all the hardship. Don't deny either. Let them co-exist and mingle - then, like yin and yang, like death and life, let them create a new reality.