Resources for Loss

An Excerpt from "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann, contributed by Nana McBrown (2023)

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden
misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark
imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and
the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or
not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as
it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive
Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in
the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With
all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a
beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

An edited version of this poem has hung in the hallway of my childhood home for as
long as I can remember; however, I have never fully read the poem until this
moment. About a decade ago, as my family embarked on the journey of permanent
immigration to the United States, my father stayed behind to pack up the last of our
house in Ghana. The move was a loss of culture and a loss of home for our entire
family. My father, anticipating the challenges of our new beginning, sent us a framed
version of this poem that he had edited with his own advice—an attempt at instilling
enthusiasm for our new life. The original plan was for him to reunite with my
sisters, my mother, and me a few months post-migration. However, life threw
surprises, and before we knew it, his cancer returned and he was gone. This poem
became a constant reminder of the last bit of wisdom he gave us, a reminder that “it
is still a beautiful world.”

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