Strength in what remains…

Two weeks ago, some good friends of mine were blindsided by tragedy: they lost one of their sons in an automobile accident.  He was nine years old.  Ever since I heard the news, I’ve been trying to think of moments in art–a passage of music, some words of poetry–that speak in some small way, however inadequately, to how I feel when reflecting on their unimaginable loss.  Today, unable to sleep at around 3 AM, they finally came to me: lines from the 10th stanza of William Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
               Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
                      We will grieve not, rather find
                      Strength in what remains behind;
                      In the primal sympathy
                      Which having been must ever be;
                      In the soothing thoughts that spring
                      Out of human suffering;
                      In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
Photo by Simon Butterworth
Photo by Simon Butterworth


  • What a beautiful poem. The picture is also quite spectacular. I have always found the images of sunbeams streaking through clouds to be a reflection of a divine presence.


  • I meet with a colleague regularly, once per month. Although we are peers in age, he is younger in the profession and it is a gift for me to help him sift through the human tangle that winds through therapeutic journey. It’s a professional relationship that tries to keep in sight the transforming light of our shared humanity.

    Yesterday he talked of a woman who clearly articulated why she came for counselling. ‘Grief,’ she said. Her 3 1/2 year old son had recently died of aggressive leukaemia; she was bereft.

    As he told me the story I could feel my tears inside, clenching ribs, tightening the throat. I could see my colleague was also touched. ‘Our tears are important,’ I said. We wept a little, quietly, for the pain and the loss. We raged a little, quietly, at the acquaintance who reminded the mother that she is young enough to have another child. We sighed a little, loudly, at a world of constant and irreversible loss.

    When he was leaving at the end of our time, I said to him, ‘If it seems right, tell her we wept.’
    It’s not much but sometimes tears are all we have to share.


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