The House Guest | Moving on, in time, from grief



Grief is a strange acquaintance, someone all of us will meet some time, and need to spend time with. It’s a relationship often held in private, but I’ve wanted to talk here a little about it in public, if just to let some air in and perhaps resource others, especially when the time comes to gently encourage him to move on.

This can leave one feeling guilty in new ways, but it’s an important moment – not to forget, no, never, but to stand and reclaim one’s house, thank him properly, and ask him to go. There will be other meetings, and times when he visits again. But he’ll know he can’t stay for now, not until the next time.

Actually, we talk a fair amount still. The bastard keeps coming by. But less and less, leaving room for more joyful remembrance…though shit, I still miss you Mr Hughes.


The House Guest

Death came knocking,
surrounded the house
filled every room
and brought too,
arms around, always close
another house-guest
to help
who stood by, wailing, saying
‘cry,’ and ‘weep long.’

Weeks later
and the box is gone
in the ground now,
the house more empty,
the reaper’s robes
swept off to another,
but the other has stayed
hanging around,
sitting in each chair
still wanting feeding
always hungry
still wanting to talk about it
each moment
every glance
holding up old photos
recounting sad memories,
saying ‘cry,’ and ‘weep long.’

He stayed still,
not leaving the house
wanting it left
‘You have to go,’ I said
this is not your place
and showed him the door
guilt tightening round my neck
as he moved to embrace me
a different emptiness
in the hollow I knew
even he would leave
oddly missing the intense times
of tear-floods
when he’d sat faithfully, saying
‘cry,’ and ‘weep long.’

He went, yet
still, he approaches in the street
taps me on the shoulder
at inopportune times asking
if I remember,
remembering for me
how I said I’d never forget.
‘How can I?’ I say, ‘But… not like this,’
and we talk a moment,
before I say I must move on.
‘Not too soon,’ he says,
urging that it is meet to
‘cry and weep long.’

Lately things
are better between us, though
we nod in acknowledgement
we talk far less.
I see him still,
cannot but recognise him
walking to tap the shoulders
of those I know,
even those I don’t
who stoop a little
in the street under
the weight of varied tears,
my whispered prayer
for each of them all
to cry and weep long
then tell him,
in good time
‘be gone from my house
be gone.’

(c) KB 2012



4 responses to “The House Guest | Moving on, in time, from grief”

  1. Acetate Monkey

    Thank you so much for this Kester.

    A very good friend and colleague of mine is due to be buried next week.
    I’m not where the author’s voice is at the end of the poem, but I know it will come.
    Very timely.
    Thank you.

  2. Kester,

    Sorry, not a comment, but i wasnt sure how to get hold of you. I used to work with nick at Spin and I think we met briefly on a couple of occassions. Nic and I stayed in intermittent contact over the last few years and more recently when I happened to email him on the day he found out he was dying.

    I met Susie a few times and wanted to send a card and have been trying to track down her address. i dont suppose you have it to pass on? I understand if not. I know there are other friends in the “design world” who would like it too.

    I’ve signed the petition about Nic and Susie’s insurance claim.

    Great poem by the way.

    Martin Saunders

  3. Hey mate.

    I’ve never met you, but just got off the phone to Friends Life and have signed petition, which is how I found your blog 🙂

    I lost someone very close to me a year ago from Cancer and what you’ve written here really touched me, and resonated. Grief like this is very much like a visitor. I’ve found it hard to stop him from stealing the silver to be honest! Loosing someone that helped make you who you are (in my case I’m speaking here, not sure about you) is really bloody hard. Your whole world-view gets knocked. Hard. Knocks your trust in life.

    But yeah, the visits become less, and generally less intense, and the faith is still there… just a little bruised and hiding (in the attic, next to the champagne glasses ;).

    Take care.