Is there beauty in grief?

Today, I’ve been ruminating over ideas of beauty and grief. The squeeze of light between darker forms.

I spend a lot of time outdoors, growing things (or helping). As a family we have an allotment, and while I’m no gardener, I often go there to find solace, quiet, like most people. But since living with grief, I’ve found myself spending more and more time there, wondering about the obscure joy we experience as a result of extreme, emotional pain, and whether this is part of our healing, part of our grief – or simply the unfortunate, but natural meaning, or ‘form’, of ‘beauty’.

I’m working on two pieces that explore this duality – the existence of ugly trauma, and some kind of beautiful aesthetic and/or felt experience. I’m working on two poems at present. Both, examine influence over the physical senses, rooted in earthly experience, as well as the internal workings of someone’s fractured, complex mind, and this intriguing idea that a fulfilling, or enlightening, or enriching experience, can’t exist without another more terrible thing. But is this the balance we need? Is this balance, ‘beauty’?

Extract 1


and now I’m reminded of the time you found two
black bees locked together in a barrel of collected rain,
you lifted them out with your big, gentle hands,
your lovely hands,
and the little black bees
held on to one other, holding on to you
as the sun uncurled her light from the clouds
and you blew and blew on their little backs,
making them dry

and perhaps it wasn’t just the act of saving them
that was beautiful,
but the act of saving them
with the sadness of finding them
in their sad, sorry desperation for life
their kneeling souls, bound together;
and perhaps the new chance of life you gave
was the beauty?
or perhaps it didn’t belong to that,
perhaps it was made in the moments
before you reached down into the dark pool
their dying forms conjoined in the water
under your enormous grace,
with the sun showing her golden face
over their circling deaths,
their thin little hearts

and the obscurity of this,
the duality of this
perhaps, perhaps this
belongs to beauty.