Capturing Shadows: Poetic Encounters Along the Path of Grief and Loss
Long before contemporary approaches to helping people face death, loss, and other life transitions, poetry was used by many cultures to assist the grieving process. Today, it remains an important healing art. Capturing Shadows is an original collection of poems about actively engaging one’s grieving and loss with a purpose. The poems were written by therapists, counselors, educators, and others who understand and have experienced the struggle of leaning into one’s pain. The introduction along with activities at the end of the book provide a guide for readers to assist them in using poems from Capturing Shadows as well as their own poems to facilitate their grieving process. Whether wanting assistance with one’s own grief and loss, a deeper understanding of the grief and loss, or a resource to help others in their journey, Capturing Shadows is a wonderful resource for all touched by death, loss, and other difficult life transitions.
There are many current cultural myths regarding the process of grieving as well as the nature of loss. These include notions that change and loss can be avoided, grieving is something one should “get over,” and that suffering has no purpose. Capturing Shadows: Poetic Encounters Along the Path of Grief and Loss shatter these and other misguided beliefs regarding dying and grieving in a creative and personally powerful way. By going beyond the usual intellectual attempts to alter our more accepted ways of seeing the world, poetic expression has the power to transform not just our usual way of knowing, but our very way of being-in-the-world. I encourage those who are open to being deeply affected and transformed regarding their present awareness of grief and loss to engage these encounters with an open and receptive heart. You will experience changing in a wiser and deeper way.
Ron Valle, PhD
Author of Opening to Dying and Grieving: A Sacred Journey
Capturing Shadows is an exquisite testimony to the healing power of poetry expressed in the raw experience of sharp grief and penetrating loss. Readers must prepare to have their defenses disarmed as tears take them again and again through the pain of these poets to transformational love and awe. This book will be cherished by all who have grieved and by all who accompany others as they heal from deep sorrow.
Sue Cooper, PhD
In his book Love and Will, Rollo May observed that artists do not provide us solutions but give us contributions that help us to remain resolute in our searching process. C.S. Lewis, the eminent theologian, shared that we read to know that we’re not alone. This marvelous book offers us poetic expressions of grief and loss that can help dissolve our sense of alienation in the searching process that is part of all losses and transitions. I urge you to dive into the poetry within and discover for yourself the wisdom of the proverb that shared grief is half the grief while shared joy is twice the joy.
Mark Yang, PsyD
Director of the International Institute of Existential Humanistic Psychology; Adjunct Faculty & Director of Existential-Humanistic Programs in Asia, Saybrook University
This beautifully crafted book seeks to do nothing less than revolutionize our attitude toward an ancient means of dealing positively with the mystery of loss: poetry. It not only encourages us to put our own loss-related painful feelings and plaintive cries into writing but also to bond with others in their attempts to do so. Moving examples of everyday people’s poems are followed by restorative activities we can perform, alone or with others, once our poems are brought to life. This calm, professional examination of the use of poetry as a means of healing enables teachers, mental health professionals, and spiritual guides—as well as those who seek their help—to transform death into life and pain into peace. This provocative book allows all who read it to learn in the non-threatening and freeing atmosphere that truly good teachers create.
Judith A. Schaeffer, PhD, OSF
Capturing Shadows is a collection of poems that I highly recommend to everyone, especially those of us who have survived tragedies or are looking to find the light out of the darkness for a better life. The words you will read of sadness, respect, hope, and love are truly moving and make you appreciate the time you have on this earth and with those whom you love. As a survivor of the 9/11 attacks, I identify with many of the poems and it is refreshing and comforting to read feelings that I have felt and had to deal with in the words of others. They are words that give me hope, love, and reflection of life, and that in itself makes Capturing Shadows. priceless.
In voices as variegated as the losses they describe, these poets write from the heart of grief for an audience of one–and through these published pages, to many. What emerges from their sometimes homespun, sometimes elegant verse is a rich quilt that captures the nuances of mourning in all of its lived complexity, offering a generous resource for the bereaved to explore–and using the toolbox of techniques provided by Hoffman and Moats–to express their personal trauma and transformation in poetry of their own. Bridging literary and therapeutic intents, the resulting anthology exemplifies what might appropriately be termed the “healing arts.”
Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD
Editor of Grief and the Expressive Arts: Practices for Creating Meaning