A Suitable Period of Mourning

I do not have a closet

full of mourning clothes

I have never

inked the names of my dead

on my tender forearms in black

in solemn homage

The list too long

My arms too short

to box with god


I am a motherless child

who grieved

too long

for the comfort of others

Left me wondering if grief

is considered contagious

a virus?

What is the suitable period of mourning

for loss of my identity

as daughter?

as granddaughter?


We do not mention pregnancy losses

As if they don’t count

don’t matter

as though the hopes

the dreams

we embraced for those little balls of cells

were weightless

mere dandelion fluff

in the breeze

We are left

standing alone

in contemplation

of our empty arms


Is a man who never held his breathing child still

a father?

A widowed woman still a wife?

A boy who has lost his twin still a brother?

Who are we when those we love are lost

and all that remains are their empty shapes on our soul

like Peter Pan’s shadow?


© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved


  1. Your poetry really resonates with me, and I’m not a person who likes most poetry. I mean that as a compliment, but I’m not sure what it sounds like for someone who doesn’t like poetry to say he likes yours. Actually, I do like poetry. I just also hate it. I’m very particular. But I’m also not well versed (so to speak) in it. I’m not an expert. Your poetry resonates with me in that it reminds me of poems I’ve written (see, I don’t hate it), and liked. There’s a common theme I’m familiar with, whether we are still something that we have ever been, or even thought of being, and whether when we lose a grandmother, for instance, we are actually mourning for a past, a youth, that has been long gone. What really changes? Is time an illusion? You know, all of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad that it spoke to you. Loss is by its very nature very existential– it causes us to contemplate our own identity, rethink our past, contemplate our own mortality. It is so much more loaded than simply missing someone we love.


  2. This is heartbreaking, yet at the same time respectfully commemorative and empathetic. The sense of loss permeates the whole piece, the underlying question “Who am I now they’ve gone?” is constant. We change but our memories of those we’ve lost is captured and suspended in time just like Peter Pan. This is so genuine. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad that this resonated so strongly. I was mulling over the events in Manchester, a deeply moving piece by my dear friend S Francis (https://sailorpoet.com/2017/05/24/album-of-the-week-nick-cave-and-the-bad-seeds-skeleton-tree-and-a-response-poem-when-the-bough-breaks/) and my own experience of loss and this is how it crystallized. It is one of the few pieces that I almost completely rewrote before posting but the first draft distanced me too much from the topic

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved what you wrote, it was very touching. I’m trying to start a service that helps people grieve through social media. I would love to talk about it with you more. Is there a good way to contact you?


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