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. Thanks for a beautiful meditation on that list that lengthens with long life.

    Mourning, in its various intensities,
    Inseparable from memory,
    Lasts until the time
    When it comes our turn
    To be mourned.


    1. An interesting observation. I have never thought of mourning as selfish as much as self-focused. Grieving our lost social roles, grieving the futures we had dreamed of, been given reason to expect. Each new loss making us re-experience all the losses before it

      Liked by 1 person

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