Resources for Loss

“Death Is Nothing At All” by Henry Scott Holland, contributed by Bobby Degeratu (2022)

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Prior to taking this course, I probably would have scoffed at this poem for trivializing death and not taking it seriously enough. Reading it now, I feel an immense sense of positivity and optimism, much like the slow transition that C.S. Lewis underwent while writing A Grief Observed. There is something beautiful about reframing loss as not taking away the lived experience, as those memories and precious moments can never be taken away. This poem evokes this idea of carrying on the departed’s legacy and not forgetting them–making meaning out of loss, not reducing it to closure, as we have so graciously covered in the course. It demonstrates a reaction to loss that is not necessarily intuitive or likely to be the first impulse for every person, and certainly it would take time to develop this positive outlook. But for me, this poem maps the next phase of my understanding of loss: one dominated by hope, continuity, and the strength to keep moving forward.

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