It was during college and the later during medical school that I discovered the power of words to help people through the grieving and healing process following a loss.
Words that I have written as poems during difficult moments when I was dealing with the losses of friends and patients have touched people in ways that I never would have imagined possible.
Since it's inception, the Journey of Hearts website has included the healing effects of poetry to aid in helping visitors to this site through the grieving process.
Many of my poems featured on the site have been reprinted as memorials in newspapers, yearbooks for those who have died, or spoken at funerals or memorial services. Most recently my poem, In Memory of You was included as an example of a contemporary bereavement poem in the new eBook, Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep.
You can read the poem in it's entirety below:
In Memory of You
I find an old photograph
and see your smile.
As I feel your presence anew,
I am filled with warmth
and my heart remembers love.
I read an old card
sent many years ago
during a time of turmoil and confusion.
The soothing words written then
still caress my spirit
and bring me peace.
I remember who you used to be
the laughter we shared
and wonder what you have become.
Where are you now,
Where did you go,
When the body is left behind
and the spirit is released to fly?
Perhaps you are the morning bird
singing joyfully at sunrise,
or the butterfly that dances
so carelessly on the breeze
or the rainbow of colors
that brightens a stormy sky
or the fingers of afternoon mist
delicately reaching over the mountains
or the final few rays of the setting sun
lighting up the skies
edging the clouds with a magical glow.
I miss your being
but I feel your presence,
In whatever form you choose to take,
however you now choose to be.
Your spirit has become for me
a guardian angel on high
guiding, advising, and watching over me.
I remember you.
You are with me
and I am not afraid.
© 1996 Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS. All rights reserved.
About the Poem
"In Memory of You" was written on a sunny winter day, penned in response to news of the death of a dear family friend from bone cancer. Her death combined with several other recent significant losses--a childhood friend to the complications of multiple sclerosis at the age of 34, a 22 year old to the long-term effects of anorexia nervosa and a vibrant patient to lung cancer at the age of 38--were the inspiration for the poem.
The deaths of these 4 young women were my primary motivators, but there were many others over the years--patients that I had lost during my days as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) or while in medical school and residency training.
"In Memory of You" has been used in many different ways since it was written and shared with hundreds of people since being posted to the Journey of Hearts site in 1998. The poems was featured as one of the healing poems on a collection of poetry assembled on the Journey of Heart site following the September 11th 2001 tragedy. In 2003 the poem was one of several of my poems included in the ABC's of Grief: A Handbook for Survivors. "In Memory of You" was even included as a Poem on the Day on the Poet Seer Site in 2004. In 2006, "In Memory of You" was shared as a resource with the About.com community during my tenure as the Death, Dying and Bereavement guide.
Over the years "In Memory of You" has also been used in with sympathy cards, as a Christmas card inserts, read at funerals and memorials and found it's way onto many Internet memorial sites, often listed as anonymous.
Photo Source: Reading Card. Modified Microsoft Image.